Stuck in the middle: the challenges of user-centered design and evaluation for infrastructure
Infrastructure software comprises code libraries or runtime processes that support the development or operation of application software. A particular infrastructure system may support certain styles of application, and may even determine the features of applications built using it. This poses a challenge: although we have good techniques for designing and evaluating interactive applications, our techniques for designing and evaluating infrastructure intended to support these applications are much less well formed. In this paper, we reflect on case studies of two infrastructure systems for interactive applications. We look at how traditional user-centered techniques, while appropriate for application design and evaluation, fail to properly support infrastructure design and evaluation. We present a set of lessons from our experience, and conclude with suggestions for better user-centered design and evaluation of infrastructure software.
Edwards, W. K. ; Bellotti, V. ; Dey, A. K.; Newman, M. Stuck in the middle: the challenges of user-centered design and evaluation for infrastructure. ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2003 ); 2003 April 5-10; Fort Lauderdale; FL. NY: ACM; 2003; 297-304.