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Human-centred Software Engineering for a sustainable Information Society. Abiodun A. Ogunyemi Information Society Technologies Institute of Informatics Tallinn University. Agenda. Topical issues on the information society The role of software engineering Integration of HCI and SE.

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human centred software engineering for a sustainable information society

Human-centred Software Engineering for a sustainable Information Society

Abiodun A. Ogunyemi

Information Society Technologies

Institute of Informatics

Tallinn University

  • Topical issues on the information society
  • The role of software engineering
  • Integration of HCI and SE
  • “Developing products and services that match people’s practices, needs and preferences is especially problematic in the ICT industry, in which many innovations are driven by the development of technology. A risk of such a technology-push approach is that products or services are created that people do not want to use or are not able to use”.
  • Thus, “the lack of an adequate understanding of people’s needs and preferences is a key factor in the failure of innovations” (Steen, 2011)

This is a conceptualization of the

  • information society
  • The four bubble are the key dimensions in the
  • information society
  • Software Engineering sits in heart as the driver,
  • providing the interface for interaction
  • HCI plays the moderator role, providing
  • checks and balances
  • The information society is sustained when
  • the key dimensions intertwined

Sustaining the Information Society

topical issues on the information society
Topical issues on the information society
  • A concise definition of the information society is hard to find because of its origin in the social sciences.
  • Different schools of thought see the information society in terms of:
  • Technological innovation and diffusion – ICTs affect all fields of social existence and cause massive changes in politics, economy, culture and everyday life.
  • Occupational change and iii Economic value – our society has passed through the agricultural and industrial stages and ICT-oriented jobs now dictate the economy
  • Space – physical space seems to lose its determining structure as ITs become pervasive.
  • The expansion of symbols and signs –our lifestyle is influenced by the globalized, extensively digitalized media culture
  • (Webster, 2002; Pinter, 2008)
  • Overall, ICT is identified as a major driver in the information society.
se for a sustainable information society
SE for a sustainable information society
  • Sustainability is “the ability of a system or social arrangement to survive in
  • its ecological, economic, social and political spheres without being undermined by internal contradictions or auto-destructive behavior” (Britton, 1996)
  • ICTs are the drivers of economic performance of all industrialized nations and the basis for a large number of services.
  • About 860,000 people work in the ICT industry alone (situation in Germany).
  • The ICT sector has a turnover of 150 billion Euros in 2012 (Germany).
  • ICT is included in the EU 7th Research Framework programme with increased funding prospects.
  • Intelligent software systems to drive innovations in all major industries.
  • Human-technology interaction is identified as one of the areas that is important to the future of the society.
the role of software engineering
The role of software engineering
  • Software engineering has much influence because the services, software and systems in use in the society are based on SE approaches.
  • There is a risk to the sustainability of the society if human-centredness is removed from SE processes.
  • “...the code that runs society’s computer systems acts as a form of regulation – but this regulation is developed without public input or oversight”. (Rundle, et. al, 2008)
  • Software use touches all the key areas of sustainability of the society - ecological, economic, social and political.
  • 1Lawrence, Lessig; (2000): Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, Basic Books, New Ed. Edition.
integration of hci and se
Integration of HCI and SE
  • Norman’s vision
  • Good software products should be:
  • Easy to learn
  • Easy to remember
  • Effective and useful
  • Efficient
  • Safe (Norman, 1988)
  • Most software designs, services and systemsstill fall short of considerations of HCI.
hci values and practices
HCI Values and Practices
  • Broadly, HCI values agitate for human-centredness and supporting users to accomplish their tasks using software products.
  • HCI practices are techniques and methods driven by human-centred approaches as against SE system and functional approaches
human centred design goal
Human-centred Design Goal
  • The goal of HCD is to bring the disparate worlds of researcher, designer, and together by moving the researcher and designer to the user or vice versa.
hcd techniques
HCD Techniques
  • Participatory Design
  • CoDesign
  • Empathy Design
  • Contextual Design
  • Ethnography
  • Lead User
  • These HCD techniques have been found quite useful in designing human software and could be used in HCSE process.
  • One of the 2HUMANIST’s objectives is to conceive ITs according to users' real needs and requirements
  • 2HUMANIST - Human Centred Design for Information Society Technology
participatory design and codesign
Participatory Design and CoDesign
  • The people destined to use the system play a critical role in designing the system .
  • Selection of participants largely influenced by political affiliations and compliance rather than an understanding of organisational systems support and information requirement, thereby constraining user choice and affecting the potential for HCD.
  • No effective representation of the users’ worlds.
  • Inadequate representation of users’ view due to cost constraints, or a lack of appreciation of the significance of users’ perspectives.
  • In CoDesign, diverse people with diverse backgrounds and skills can cooperate creatively, so that they can jointly explore and envision ideas, make and discuss sketches, and tinker with mock-ups or prototypes.
  • In CoDesign, ‘everyday people’ are participants and co-creators, rather than customers and users, and they contribute as ‘experts of their experiences’ to the research and design process
contextual design and empathic design
Contextual Design and Empathic Design
  • Contextual Design is used in commercial software development, for ‘contextual inquiry’ and ‘rapid contextual design’.
  • Poses a serious risk of being commoditised into a tool that can be used instrumentally, rather than a method for inquiry.
  • Directly translating field observation into product specification could result in the project team members thinking for the users.
  • Empathic Design is a range of approaches through which designers can empathise with other people’s experiences in different physical, social and cultural contexts.
  • Empathic design often focuses on ‘what could be’ and allows an intervention in users’ practices, for example, by introducing prototypes or role-playing.
ethnography and lead user
Ethnography and Lead User
  • In ethnography, researchers and designers go ‘into the field’ with the goal of understanding how people use products or services.
  • Ethnography has a tendency to interfere with the evaluation stage of a product or service design (what could be) instead of concentrating on understanding users’ practices and experiences (what is).
  • Lead user technique agrees that many ideas for improved or new products or services originate in the minds and hands of innovative users and do not always come from professional researchers or designers.
  • In the software industry, the lead user approach is applied in open-source software development, user-generated content or crowd sourcing.
current issues in hci se integration
Current issues in HCI-SE Integration
  • Lack of user involvement in the Design Process and complexities of some HCI Design techniques
  • SoftwareOrganizational Culture
  • SoftwareContext of Use
  • Software Engineering Modeling Techniques (UML, UP, XP, RUP…)
  • These challenges are critical for resolution in order to achieve a sustainable information society through human-centred software engineering
organizational culture
Organizational Culture
  • Redesigning the overall development process around usability issues often poses a problem to the organizational culture of software engineering organizations. For example, the Usage-centred Design approach and the Usability Engineering Lifecycle have this drawback on organisational culture.
  • Most software organizations are not willingly to trade-off their existing software process to embrace unification with HCI methods/techniques. For example, it is a daunting task to change a waterfall lifecycle approach to a human-centred design.
context of use
Context of Use
  • Some HCI tools such as Bridging patterns (Multi-level Undo, Multi-Channel Access, Wizard and Single Sign-on (SSO)) lack the ability to be used in wide range application domains.
  • Other contextual factors such as application domains, organizational factors and project constraintsstill impact HCI methods.
se modeling techniques
SE Modeling Techniques
  • UML - lacks consistency with user-centred designs,
  • does not provide designers with modeling languages and associated tools to explore the relevant HCI aspects of interactive software.
  • Other UML-based languages such as UIML are incapable of removing the formal nature of UML and failed to enhance understanding for business people.
  • UP - has no filters for internal functionality of software and the user interface.
  • lacks support for multiple platforms and often leads to conceptual architectural complexities
  • RUP - is architecture-centric, as it focuses on the architecturally significant static and dynamic aspects of the system.
se modeling techniques1
SE Modeling Techniques
  • XP - uses scenarios (user stories) and use cases which are not only inconsistent with agile development, but also misleading as an effective way to model user requirements
  • Scenarios are much useful in HCI as they provide focus, but are usually disastrous when applied indiscriminately as a general requirements discovery technique.
  • there is no artifact that represents the conceptual system architecture and the connection between that architecture and the user-stories.
  • Some new HCI tools such : MoLIC (Modeling Language for Interaction as Conversation ), CRUISER (Cross-discipline User Interface and Software Engineering lifecycle ), and UMMD (User Model Driven Software Development) are however being used to mitigate the shortcomings of SE modeling techniques.
group task
Group Task
  • In a group of four (4), access these sites: and
  • Scenario 1: You need to see some profiles of researchers in HCI and harmonize with your interest and you decide to use
  • Scenario 2: You are a foreigner to Estonia and you are in need of random information about e-services and public information management and you decide to visit
  • Document your experience in terms of these dimensions:
  • Usefulness
  • Ease of use
  • Access time to find relevant information
  • Links to other useful information
  • Feedback mechanisms
  • What do you think was or not done in the process of design and development of each service?
  • Users involvement is very crucial to achieve human-centred designs.
  • Experts involved in HCD should strive to understand current practices and envision their alternatives.
  • Methods, practitioners roles, usage of power, and agency in projects should be critically reflected upon by those who engage in HCD.
  • More collaborative approaches by both the HCI and SE fields are imperative to achieve usable software, services, and systems in order to achieve a sustainable information society.


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European Commission. (2001). Information Society Technologies - Creating a user-friendly Information Society. Belgium.

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