Contextual Method for the Re-design of Existing Software Products

This paper is concerned with the problem of improving software products and investigates how to base that process on solid empirical foundations. Our key contribution is a user-centered, contextual method which provides a means of identifying new features, to support the discovered and currently unsupported ways of working, and a means of evaluating the usefulness of proposed features. Standard methods of discovery and evaluation, such as interviews and usability testing, gather some of the necessary data but each individually falls short of covering all important aspects. We overcome the shortcomings of these individual approaches by applying an integrated method for collecting and interpreting data about product usage in context. We demonstrate its effectiveness when applied to the discovery and evaluation of new features for standard web clients.

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TypeTechReport
NumberMSR-TR-2004-96
Pages13
InstitutionMicrosoft Research
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