Never before has the human factors professional had the opportunity to take a lead role in software develop- ment. Enabled by a vigorous focus on software usability and the avail- ability of a number of robust proto- typing tools, corporate human factors groups are making significant positive contributions to software development through software pro- totyping. However, a successful pro- totyping effort requires more than a prototyping tool and a background in user interface design. It has been our experience that the success of a protoryping effort is dependent on many factors, some obvious, some not so obvious, and others learned only through postgraduate training at the School of Hard Knocks. Put your feet up, grab a cup of coffee, and let us share with you some of the lessons we’ve learned on the way to happier and healthier prototyping efforts. In no particular order: trying to convince the programmers that prototyping is a good idea. Don’t waste your time convincing low-level programming managers that prototyping is a good thing. For that matter, don’t even waste your time convincing your management that prototyping is a good thing. The peo- ple you have to convince are those that hold the purse strings for prod- uct development. Without their support, you will never be successful. The very best way to do this is to invite them into your lab, tell them about the benefits, relate success stories, and top the pitch off with a demo of your prototypes. We have found this to be the most effective way for communicating the power of prototyping and (as a very positive by-product) generating interesting, challenging work. interactions . . . january 1994
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