Friday, February 5, 2016

Ideas for Research Proposal in Review

HCI 591 is doing a project research proposal. These are two ideas I have for that project, thought I would get your feedback. Might be nice to tie this project in with my future research and thesis?

Evaluate a development teams key roles and identify high level processes for UI/UX implementation and testing. Create a paper, pattern library, and/or wiki to identify various methods, key elements, and techniques based on known criteria from clients and past proposals. Identify items missing from proposals and business case/use case for why the newly recommended elements should be implemented.

508 compliance/WCAG2.0 AA - these are the standard regulations set forth by the United States Government and UK for digital service standards to ensure EIT and web applications created for public use by the governement are reasonably accessible to all users. Meaning, anyone with a disability should be able to use EIT (electronic and information technology) with equal access. Disabilities span further than just a user who is blind, deaf, or in a wheel chair. These regulations are created to also protect users with color blindness, who have multiple impairments, have learning disabilities, and impaired motor skills etc. I would like to research pitfalls to the implementation of these regulations for government agencies and contractors, create testing guidelines and recommendations (beyond what is listed on web aim), do user testing and get feedback from users with impairments, and feedback from users who use programs like JAWS. I would then like to compare the US and UK regulations while defining how compliance measures up to actual accessibility recommendations from sites like web aim. Please note that compliance is not the same as actual accessibility and neither are the criteria for successfully being compliant.

Response 2:

I apologize, my initial email was too vague in an effort to quickly disseminate the information and not bore you.

I probably should have prefaced in my original email that both topics I’ve proposed are items I have to do anyway for work. I’ve already spent over two years collaborating and gathering process flow information and specific data about GD’s development teams to create a better process flow for our organization. When I first arrived, we did not have a very good process plan in place for implementing UX, we arrived at the conclusion that many, many steps that the design team agreed are important where being skipped. So, a friend and I started a design collaboration workgroup and invited the only other 2 designers, our boss, and eventually the development teams. It started out with a lot of white board drawing, tons of notes, and multiple meetings to discuss which methods we would used based on different criteria or problems. Later we started implementing training at the end of each meeting, which is where we started invited the development team.

After the first year, or somewhere around there my friend left. Our team now has three designers and I’m not sure that GD has very many UX staff outside of our team. There are even less design people who are certified and trained in 508 compliance (many QA staff but for different reasons).

To respond to the concerns in your email, I agree, my initial description of both potential research projects where poorly articulated and too vague to get a proper grasp on my background with them and where I would like to take them in the future. Based on the fact that I already have some research accomplished on this project and that I was already planning on doing both projects I do not believe that either project will be too difficult to implement.

To answer your questions:

·         How would you gather data about the wide range of development teams’ organizational systems? I’ve had extensive training in program management and have read a large majority of my organization’s policies. I already write most of our team’s technical documentation, collaborate on RFI/RFP responses regularly, and have previous experience collaborating with every member of our application development team within the HCSD department and larger sector that would be relevant to the documentation my stakeholders desire to have documented. My management team is particularly interested in further promoting the UI/UX skillset and other skills relevant and specific to the application development team. This would include 508 compliance, software engineering, cyber security, program management, project management, business analyst, staticians, stakeholders (for us are usually clinicians and staticians – both of which we have onsite), management, and quality assurance. Some teams have more skillsets and additional team members, but I think this is a good start and would be sufficient for this project.
·         Would you need an activity theory or actor-network theory just to begin to try to model UI/UX implementation strategies? I had not previously hear of these theories, so I looked up both.
o   For activity theory I read Wikipedia and L.S. Vygotsky, Robert W. Rieber (1997). I’m still unsure of how to implement activity theory, but like that it is described as a particularly useful lens in qualitative research methodologies like ethnography and case studies. I do a lot of work in both of those fields, so if you know of another book I could reference that would be appreciated. (I also read about SSAT – systemic structural activity theory)
o   I read the description of Actor-network theory on Wikipedia. This lead me to reading about essentialism. I noted that the writers said ANT is a constructivist approach that avoids essentialist explanations. According to Wikipedia essentialism provided the basis for taxonomy, protean theory, and in part involves categorizing and grouping characteristics. Isn’t this partially what I’m proposing to do for the UX process- categorize, group, and layout a workflow? If so, is actor-network the appropriate route for this research? Is this research or an evaluation? I would probably lean more towards evaluation as the primary purpose with research as the secondary since I will need defensible criteria and have business stakeholders.
·         I’m not certain that a case study of one or two implementations would permit the breadth of conclusions your paragraph seems to imply you’d seek. I agree, but I’m not hoping to implement a case study, so much as document past performance and attempt to create a field map for teams within General Dynamics. This will be especially useful for program/project managers in the early stages of vision documents as they begin to layout business requirements and timelines.  I’m very open on which method I should use to research the information and form conclusions, mostly because I only know of a few formal terms for this outside of extensive UX methods for IT and program management.
·         Don't assume the US and UK have identical accessibility policies; they don't. Don't underestimate the ADA, in addition to Section 508, as well, as well as WAI-ARIA and IndieUI.  I’ve worked with both, and agree they do not. The US’s policies are stricter in many ways. Ironically, neither are truly fully accessibility friendly. Web Aim has stricter standards that the government regulations. I’ve worked on projects for compliance and accessibility for both countries. I’m currently in the process of creating policies, expanding government documentation of accessibility, and building a wiki to facilitate disseminating this information to teams.
·         Your text has some minor issues with your descriptions of disability; you might consider rephrasing those, so as to adopt a tone more in keeping with that used by groups such as the WAI (of which, did you know, I was once a member of a working committee?). Agreed. I need to work on being more formal with the tone I use and watch the verbiage. The initial writing was meant to be informal for class and I worried that if I was too formal and broad some classmates might not know specifically what I wanted to research, so I’d end up without a teammate. We also had a word limit.
·         The US/UK comparison/contrast might be quite useful; has that never been done before? I haven’t seen it done online, but know from personal experience that our team has done it. You also have to keep in mind there are only a handful of government contracting agencies that work in both countries. Again, this is just an opinion and not fact but I also think these two countries have a really good foundation for web standards in this area. I’ve seen some of the standards for other countries, but France, Germany, Kosovo, and Spain are going to be much harder for me to document since my linguistic skills for each country are still extremely elementary and this field is extremely technical. I am, however, in the process of studying French and have the intention of learning multiple other languages in the next five years.

The problem is, I am having a really hard time translating methods and technical terms. They are also not things I can generally ask my friends who are expats, foreign natives, or language teachers because they do not know what I’m talking about even in English. Would really appreciate any resources you might direct me toward for that. The languages I am interested include: Korean (the seoul dialect), Japanese (hiragana and katakana – not kangi), Mandarin Chinese, French, German, Italian, Kosovian-Albanian, Macedonian, Spanish, ASL, and British-English (technical writing – learning this has really affected and confused some of my spelling/grammar over the past four years). I’ve already taken 2 years of Japanese and have multiple friends from Japan from my time living in WA (near Japan airlines) and three foreign exchanges students. I started to learn sign language at a very small age with my mother and continued my education when I studied marine biology for two years for use when scuba diving (so I mostly know diving/fish related stuff). I’ve been attempting French on and off again for over 5 years, with a tutor for 2, and community education courses for another 2. The most useful resource I’ve found was within the last two years, I’ve been doing a program on my iPhone called Duolingo. Unfortunately this does not include technical terms, at all.


·         Wikipedia (2016). Activity theory. Accessed 2/2016.
·         Wikipedia (2016). Essentialism. Accessed 2/2016.
·         L.S. Vygotsky, Robert W. Rieber (1997). The Collected works of L.S Vygotsky. Volume 3. Plenum Press.
·         Wikipedia (2016). Actor-network theory. Accessed 2/2016.

Sorry this email is really long. At some point I need to learn the happy medium between being too brief and too wordy. 
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Senior UI/UX web designer at a large-scale IT contractor for defense, intelligence, and civilian government solutions. Adventurist and certified Yoga / Barre Instructor. Love aviation, books, and travel.Prefer long light hearted series in mystery, comedy, fantasy, and romance.

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