Date: February 20, 2001
Kristine Maneely, Medscape, Inc., and Beverly Arnoldy, Usability Consultant —

What does your product development team do when they are presented with a high-level product definition? If they are typical, they probably start determining what is technically possible – assuming that if they can provide functionality, the customers will figure out how to use it. By the time the usability professionals are consulted, the product definition has been fully written and the first UI design has been done. It’s already too late to make the product the one your customers really want to use.

In our presentation, we explore how usability professionals can impact the product at the very beginning. We describe how we bring potential customers together with our product teams to collaborate on a product definition. When the product designers hear the customers talk about the product they want and the customers hear the designers talk about what can actually be built, the result is a better product!

During our interactive presentation, we share our ideas about this participatory design process and conduct a sample session with audience volunteers taking the part of potential customers.


Kris Maneely is the team lead for the usability group at Medscape, Inc. She has over 12 years experience in user interaction design, product requirements definition, and usability engineering methods including usability testing, participatory design and consulting for product engineering teams. Previously, she has worked for Mentor Graphics, Network Associates, and IBM.

Kris is a member of UPA, ACM, SigCHI, and IEEE. She is a member and past president of CHIFOO and as a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), she currently holds the positions of Webmaster, email list administrator, and counselor to engineering students at a local university for the Columbia River section of SWE.

Bev Arnoldy is a usability consultant with over 20 years of experience as a software developer, technical writer and usability engineer. She specializes in heuristic evaluation, usability testing and user interaction design. Recent projects include work for Intel, Medscape, Inc., Symantec, Network Associates, and ADP. Bev has written an article for the UPA Common Ground, “Starting a Usability Process in a Small Company with Limited Resources: An Outline for Beginners”, July 1998, Volume 8, Number 3.

Bev is a member of UPA and SigCHI. She is a member and past vice president of CHIFOO. She is also a member and past president of the Columbia River section of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE).

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