Tag Archives: RAA

Research Article Analysis

RAA: It’s hard to tell a good story — exploring persona-scenarios

RAA stands for: Research Article Analysis

Paper discussed:

Madsen, S., & Nielsen, L. (2010). Exploring Persona-Scenarios – Using Storytelling to Create Design Ideas. In D. Katre, R. Orngreen, P. Yammiyavar, & T. Clemmensen (Eds.), Human Work Interaction Design: Usability in Social, Cultural and Organizational Contexts (Vol. 316, pp. 57-66). Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg. Retrieved from http://www.springerlink.com/content/6nh13h2684v154lm/

1. Purpose of the research:

Explore the persona-scenario method and propose guidelines about how to construct persona-scenarios as good and coherent stories for IT system design.

2. Methods:

Review of persona, scenarios, and narrative theory was introduced and followed by a case study. Review part is heavy in this paper because of its theoretical characteristic. Case study was presented as a verification as well as supplement for their conclusion.

The case study was reported as group tasks from a persona-scenarios workshop. The task was to build persona-scenarios to facilitate the redesign of Virk.dk, a portal that enables companies to submit forms digitally to government. Sixteen participants were chosen, as key stakeholders in development process, to attend the workshop. They were than divided into 4 groups and worked on building persona-scenarios. Each group was given a short text with a start situation for their persona, and asked to write and present their scenarios based on the situation given. The authors also provided a brief analysis of the case.

3. Main Findings:

The authors brought up their “theory” of building persona-scenarios in narrative theory perspective, mainly based on their review of different methods and theories. Since the nature of scenarios is story-telling, they believed that follow and modify the narrative theory could help to build well-constructed persona-scenarios. They then gave a mapping between narrative elements (characters, time, problem, setting, opening episode, episodes, resolution, plot, overall story, and narrator’s perspective) in the story form and narrative elements in a persona-scenario. In this way, they tried to define the scope and structure of a persona-scenario.

In the next stage, through analyzing the case study, they found out that “for scenario writers, once the story is started, it develops in its own course”, which means they might have different focus and extra preference developing the story. This will inevitably harm the credibility of the scenarios. Based on the case study, they further provided the following instructions as supplements to their previous mapping:

  • In the scenarios, while the persona is the protagonist, the future IT system has to play a prominent role as well — it could be part of the events — rather than a character or tool-like object.
  • In design scenarios, the problem should always be solved and goal should always be reached. Because “the more they address obstacles and design-oriented ways of overcoming the obstacles, the more concrete the future IT system and design ideas for the future IT system stand out within the story and get validated from the persona’s point of view”.

At the end, they gave a comprehensive table of components in a design-oriented persona-scenarios, developed from the original mapping table and the case study results.
4. Analysis:

This paper is well executed in terms of providing very good points for constructing persona-scenarios. The correlation of persona-scenarios and narrative theory was wisely found and presented to construct the structure of persona-scenarios. Analysis of case study was brilliant too, with good points found to further modify the theoretical structure. I enjoyed the analyzing process that they finally come up with the opinion that persona-scenarios should all have a happy-ending in order to provide more insight for design.

The only thing weak in this paper is the way they presented their case study. It is unclear in several critical points, for example, in what degree did these participants already knew about persona and persona-scenarios; at which stage of the workshop did they started to carry out group tasks; how much user research results were given in that “short text”? Without knowing these information, we could not fully trust on the authors conclusion about persona-scenarios couldn’t be well written without their guidelines. In another way, though good points were presented, the credibility of the paper is lowered due to lacking of these information.

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RAA: Care more about intended users rather than general public

RAA stands for: Research Article Analysis

Paper discussed:

Das, A., Faxvaag, A., & Svanas, D. (2011). Interaction design for cancer patients: do we need to take into account the effects of illness and medication? Proceedings of the 2011 annual Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 21-24. doi: 10.1145/1978942.1978946

1. Purpose of the research:

Examine cancer patients’ ability to use a patient-centered information system and their need for the system, in order to improve the usability of the next version of the system.

2. Methods:

One way to accomplish the research goal is to establish if there are significant differences in task performance between particular patient groups and average computer users. Authors proposed a hypothesis that the group of cancer patients would have significantly more difficulties using a web-based healthcare system compared to a control group of healthy individuals.

The study was set up as an observational case-control study with an experiment where cancer patients and healthy controls were observed while they conducted tasks by using a web-based healthcare system. Semi-structured interviews and questionnaires were used afterwards to collect additional information. The whole precess was captured on video and analyzed to evaluate the usability based on the definition of usability by ISO (effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction).

3. Main Findings:

Effectiveness: the cancer patients experienced more difficulties compared to the healthy controls for the entire task and for all its five subtasks (lower completion rate). Efficiency: measured “time on task” was not quite useful because cancer patients quickly gave up and was given assistance while healthy controls quickly finished the tasks, which led to similar time on task. Satisfaction: SUS score might be affected by cancer patients’ motivation to use the system.

In conclusion, authors claimed effectiveness is the main issue faced by cancer patients due to their impaired physical and cognitive ability. A patient-centered systems should be designed with the intended users in mind, rather than average, general public.

4. Analysis:

I will give 4 out of 5 points to this paper. Four points for its novel and sympathetic consideration towards the design of patient information system, as well as the clear-conveyed experiments. One point is lost for the relatively small size of sample and lack of in-depth suggestions about specific improvements should be made. For future study, research could be carried out to examine the exact problems that cancer patients face. Possible approaches could be eye-tracking experiments and think-aloud method, in the way that both objective and subjective descriptions could be gained.