CHI Nederland

12 maart 2002

Karin Thomassen de Sosa, ABN AMRO, FET UID
Harro Vons, Baan Development
(translation by Geert de Haan)

(1) Usability in practice of software-development

by: Peter Hinssen & Harro Vons, Baan Development

The times are changing, also concerning software-development. Usability used to be the closing entry and sometimes not even something that deserved any attention. Nowadays there is a general insight that end-user matters should be taken into consideration. This has certainly be stimulated by the strong development on web-applications, in which graphical design and usability are essential parts. Also for different software products, usability is increasingly becoming a means to distinguish oneself from competitors, certainly now that products are becoming more and more similar in terms of functionality. In this presentation we will show how Baan deals with usability in the practice of software development.

In order to integrate usability in the regular software-development process, Baan's usability-design-method is of crucial importance. This method can be characterised as object-oriented and it consists of the following steps:

  • task-analysis and task-design
  • conceptual usability-design
  • prototyping and graphical design
  • usability walkthrough
  • usability-test
  • Apart from applying the usability-design method, also other usability-activities are being carried out, such as, for example, usability audits and providing style guides over the intranet.

The experiences with integrating usability in the software-development are predominantly positive, given the increasing application of usability-activities and the actual implementation of usability-improvements in Baan-product. Nevertheless, there still remain some problems to be solved. Partially, due to the nature of the organisation that is concerned with software development and its strong with its strong emphasis on technology and functionality. As such, the main conclusion should be that also a change of mentality is required.

(2) Usability at ABN AMRO

by: Karin Thomassen de Sosa

Karin discussed the role of the concept of usability within the organisation of ABN AMRO as well as the contents of the work of the FET UID team (Full Expertise Team User Interaction Design). In addition, special attention was paid to stimulating the concept of usability within a bank, as a primarily customer-oriented organisation. The slides of Karin Thomassen de Sosa's lecture(2.3MB!) are available.

(3) Forum, discussing different approaches to usability in practice

During the forum the principal differences between the usability-promoting approaches at Baan Development and ABN AMRO were compared in close co-operation with the audience with the aim to provide practitioners from interdisciplinary research and development projects with useful tips, hints and directions on how to deal with usability-promoting activities within their own organisations.

About Harro Vons

Harro Vons is Senior Usability Consultant at Baan Development. He studied Elektrotechnique at Twente University. During his studies he specialised in Human-Computer Interaction and worked, among others, on Groupware Task Analysis and videoconferencing technology. After his graduation in 1996 he remained at Twente University and continued to work in the area of Human-Machine Interaction.

Starting in 1997, Harro is employed at Baan, where he applies the availabl knowledge about usability to software development. He has been involved in starting-up the usability activities at Baan Development, among others, by developing and applying usability design methods. A central theme in his work is the tension between technology, commerce and usability. In doing so, the biggest challenge is to put the focus on the user within an originally technological organisation.

About Karin Thomassen de Sosa

Karin Thomassen de Sosa is currently employed at the ABN AMRO bank as a user interaction designer within the FET UID team (Full Expertise Team User Interaction Design) along with three other colleagues. She is the co-ordinator of the team.

The main aim of the team is to ensure that the products which are developed within the bank, most of which are web browser-based, are usable and, in addition, that they fulfil the requirements imposed on them from both within as well as from outside the bank, especially, where it concerns the "look" of the products. The team was established in 1998. Karin joined ABN AMRO in August 2000 and became a member of the team. Since March 2001. she is also the co-ordinator of the team, which involves that she is responsible for the acquisition of orders and for 'promoting' the work of the team within the bank.

Before ABN AMRO, Karin worked at Cap Gemini as a so-called GUI consultant, as it was called in those days, after which she worked as PhD student at Delft University.