There are three key interactive methods that you can use to elicit human information requirements from organizational members.These three methods are interviewing, joint application design (JAD), and surveying people through questionnaires. Although different in their implementation, these methods have a great deal in common, too. The basis of their shared properties is talking with and listening to people in the organization to understand their interactions with technology through a series of carefully composed questions.
Each of the three interactive methods for information gathering possesses its own established process for you to follow in interacting with users. If followed, these systematic approaches will help ensure proper design and implementation of interviews, JAD workshops, and questionnaires, as well as support insightful analysis of the resulting data. Unobtrusive methods (sampling, investigation, and observing a decision maker’s behavior and physical environment) that do not require the same degree of interactivity between analysts and users will be covered in an upcoming chapter. By using interactive methods with unobtrusive methods you will achieve a more complete portrait of the organization’s information requirements.
This chapter covers three of the key interactive methods for information gathering that the systems analyst can use, including interviewing, JAD, and construction of questionnaires. During the process of interviewing analysts, listen for HCI concerns relating to ergonomics, aesthetics, usability, and usefulness, as well as goals, feelings, opinions, and informal procedures in interviews with organizational decision makers. Interviews are planned question-and-answer dialogues between two people. Analysts use the interview to develop their relationship with a client, to observe the workplace, and to collect data. Interviews should preferably be conducted in person.
The five steps to take in planning the interview are to read background material, establish interviewing objectives, decide whom to interview, prepare the interviewee, and decide on question types and structure.
Questions are of two basic types: open-ended or closed. Open-ended questions leave open all response options for the interviewee. Closed questions limit the possible options for response. Probes or follow-up questions can be either open-ended or closed, but they ask the respondent for a more detailed reply.
Interviews can be structured in three basic ways: pyramid, funnel, or diamond. Pyramid structures begin with detailed, closed questions and broaden to more generalized questions. Funnel structures begin with open-ended, general questions and then funnel down to more specific, closed questions. Diamond-shaped structures combine the strengths of the other two structures, but they take longer to conduct. Trade-offs are involved when deciding how structured to make interview questions and question sequences.
To cut both the time and cost of personal interviews, analysts may want to consider joint application design (JAD) instead. Using JAD, analysts can both analyze human information requirements and design a user interface with users in a group setting. Careful assessment of the particular organizational culture will help the analyst judge whether JAD is suitable.
By using questionnaires (surveys), systems analysts can gather data on HCI concerns, attitudes, beliefs, behavior, and characteristics from key people in the organization. Surveys are useful if people in the organization are widely dispersed, many people are involved with the systems project, exploratory work is necessary before recommending alternatives, or there is a need for problem sensing before interviews are conducted.
Once objectives for the survey are set, the analyst can begin writing either open-ended or closed questions. Ideally, the questions should be simple, specific, short, free of bias, not patronizing, technically accurate, addressed to those who are knowledgeable, and written at an appropriate reading level. The systems analyst may want to use scales either to measure the attitudes or characteristics of respondents or to have respondents act as judges for the subject of the questionnaire. Scaling is the process of assigning numbers or other symbols to an attribute or characteristic.
Consistent control of the questionnaire format and style can result in a better response rate.Web surveys can be designed to encourage consistent responses. In addition, the meaningful ordering and clustering of questions is important for helping respondents understand the questionnaire. Surveys can be administered in a variety of ways, including electronically via email or theWeb, or with the analyst present in a group of users.
Once you have mastered the material in this chapter you will be able to:
- Recognize the value of interactive methods for information gathering.
- Construct interview questions to elicit human information requirements.
- Structure interviews in a way that is meaningful to users.
- Understand the concept of JAD and when to use it.
- Write effective questions to survey users about their work.
- Design and administer effective questionnaires.
- Interviewing in Information Gathering
- Five Steps in Interview Preparation
- Open-Ended and Closed Type Interview Questions
- Arranging Interview Questions in a Logical Sequence
- Joint Application Design (JAD) in Information Gathering
- Using Questionnaires in Information Gathering
- Writing Questions for Questionnaires
- Using Scales in Questionnaires
- Designing and Administering the Questionnaires