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The case for supportive evaluation during design
May, J. & Barnard, P.
Interacting with Computers, 7,115-143
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The relevance of HCI theory to industry is being questioned, and the emphasis is shifting away from providing generalised support to systematic evaluation methods, typified by Cognitive Walkthroughs (CW). The evidence suggests that CW has not proved as effective as hoped. We examine this evidence, and argue that the problem lies not with CW or its underlying theory in particular, but with its limited scope and in the increasing dissociation of an evaluation method from its theoretical foundation. Evaluation methods retaining a theoretical element would provide the necessary conceptual support to enable designers to identify, comprehend and resolve usability problems, and would also be less limited than dissociated evaluation methods in their breadth and depth of application. We present an ambitious vision of a ‘supportive evaluation’ tool, and outline Cognitive Task Analysis (CTA), the methodology upon which a proofofconcept tool has been based. To illustrate how CTA supports the identification and resolution of usability problems, we describe three brief design scenarios, and discuss the role of cognitive modelling in the context of design.