PhD Thesis Seeks to Raise HCI to Centre of the Design Process


Today, on 28 March, Abiodun Afolayan Ogunyemi from the Tallinn University School of Digital Technologies will defend his doctoral thesis. The dissertation explored the state of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) practice in software development companies, and the possibility of facilitating the implementation of HCI approaches.

“The overarching concern is that our societies have rapidly transformed into information societies and software systems and services now dictate the way we live, interact, and do business,” the author said. Despite the fact that many HCI research results are available for software development companies, the production of software still falls short of users’ values and considerations, which is a concern. “The vast majority of HCI practice research studies offer little or no theoretical guidance, and in many cases lack methodological strength and insight,” he added.

HCI practice could increase in adoption if more attention is devoted to supporting companies through strategic collaborations with development companies and with tools to self-assess their process from time to time. “Also, HCI as a subject should be promoted in customer organisations. It is expected that self-assessment of HCI practice helps development companies increase their HCI awareness, facilitate self-learning, foster team communication, facilitate sharing of a common vision in projects, and support maturation of HCI practice,” Ogunyemi added.

“First, my thesis outlines a strategic roadmap for implementing a human-centred design process in software development companies. The roadmap is in five phases, which describe procedures for defining a business case for human-centred design, collaboration, dissemination, domestication, and implementation,” he explained. The process of implementing the roadmap could facilitate a strategic engagement between government/industry and academia. A fundamental issue upon which this roadmap has emerged is the knowledge limit of software practitioners regarding HCI practice. “Still, practitioners may not access the vast majority of HCI research results, and HCI course curricula might be lacking proper design in the context of some developing countries,” the author added.

Secondly, Ogunyemi pointed out four issues that have been found to be essentially crucial to advancing HCI practice in software development companies: process, performance, expertise, and measuring usability impacts on products. “These issues have been factored into a new model that supports software development companies aiming to mature their HCI practice. It is envisaged that the model could also facilitate uptake of HCI practice generally in software development companies,” he said. There are two propositions from this model. The first proposition is that a company that pays attention to human-centeredness both in its internal and development processes will be able to perform usability design more systematically in projects. The second proposition is that a company that applies usability design performance in projects makes it more feasible to achieve positive impacts on product usability.

“Software development companies can benefit from applying the strategic roadmap for their HCI practice uptake. Development companies can continuously use the model to self-assess their HCI practice and enhance their HCI practice maturity when the model is computerized into an analytical scale and becomes available online,” Ogunyemi explained.

The public defence of the doctoral thesis “HCI Practice Uptake in Software Development Companies: Improving Through Process Self-assessment” will take place on 28 March at 11:00 at M-648 (Uus-Sadama 5). The dissertation was supervised by Prof. David Lamas from Tallinn University. The opponents are Prof. Timo Jokela from the University of Lapland, and research fellow Tarmo Robal from Tallinn University of Technology. The defence is held in English.

The full thesis can be accessed via the TU Academic Library e-depository ETERA