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3rd to 6th July 2017 University of Sunderland

Workshop 2 – Defining the Content of a User Requirements Specification

Introduction

Understanding user requirements and making them available to development teams is a key activity in human-centred design that provides the basis for an appropriate design solution.  Without proper statements of user requirements, development teams cannot be informed about what is required from the perspective of the use of the interactive system. Existing published approaches describe a process and the methods that can be used to gather information about users and their tasks, such as contextual interviews, surveys, user needs analysis, card sorting, group task analysis, focus groups and field studies.  But what are the resulting requirements that provide a basis for design and evaluation of the system from the perspective of its users in contrast to other stakeholders?  While traditional requirements analysis has well established documentation methods such as use cases, for user requirements specifications, although techniques such as scenarios of use are widely used, there is no standard formulation for including these within the overall requirements specification.

Objective

The objective of the workshop is to classify different types of user requirements and develop a categorization that defines the scope of user requirements and could be used as a contents list or checklist that could help practitioners elicit, identify and document the relevant requirements for use in a user requirements specification.

Related issues to be considered will include:

  • Is a common categorization possible or appropriate across different organizations and application domains?
  • How do user requirements relate to underlying user needs?
  • How important is it to include quantitative user requirements for effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction?
  • How should requirements for user experience be expressed?
  • Is it possible in principle to evaluate whether user requirements have been achieved?

The workshop participants will gain a better understanding of user requirements, and identify areas of common interest for potential future collaboration.

Activities

The workshop participants will review the following materials to consider what should be included in a user requirements specification:

  • Existing published research on appropriate content of user requirements.
  • The types of data that could usefully be specified in advance as criteria for acceptable evaluation results.
  • Examples of user requirements specifications produced by academic and industry organizations.
  • The draft ISO standard 26065 on user requirements.
  • Submissions by those attending the workshop.

Types of content items for user requirements will be categorized as essential, desirable and optional, and where appropriate identified as specific to particular application domains.

Following introductions, the afternoon workshop will affinity diagram all proposed content items and topics as a group exercise.  It will then divide into groups to discuss identified issues, followed by a final summary.  Participants will be welcome to continue discussions over dinner.

A second session on Tuesday morning will discuss with those interested how to follow up the results of the workshop, for example in a paper for an appropriate journal.  The workshop organizers will submit formal feedback to ISO on the current draft of ISO/IEC 25065.

Submissions

Please email Nigel Bevan if you are interested in participating.  You will be asked to submit an existing example of user requirements, or to suggest user requirements for project details that will be supplied.  You will be expected to be familiar with the other positions and relevant materials that will be made available prior to the workshop.

Organisers

Nigel Bevan was a major contributor to the US Common Industry Specification for Usability Requirements (NIST, 2007) and has been a co-editor of several international standards that include good practice in specifying user requirements.

Martin Maguire has worked on a number of collaborate projects to develop usability requirements and evaluation methods for use within EU projects and internationally.

Thomas Geis is managing director of a company offering services in the field of contextual inquiry and user requirements specifications, and is editor of the draft ISO standard.

 

Date: Monday 3rd July –  14.00-18.00 – Main Workshop and Tuesday 4th July 9.00-12.00: optional discussion of future work and publications

Cost: £40 [waived for standard rate delegates]