LIVING LABORATORY AND USER EXPERIENCE

At the heart of the living laboratory framework is the idea of problem-centered learning. Cognitive systems engineers use the living lab framework to study problems that emerge from practice and represent issues that regular workers face in their workflow (McNeese, 1996). The living laboratory framework provides cognitive systems

A Brief Description of the Living Laboratory Framework

Method

Description

Ethnographic study

Observation of the problem domain, analysis of the user’s workflow and environment

Knowledge elicitation

Interviews with subject matter experts to further understand the problem domain

Scaled worlds

The initial concept of a workflow that simplifies the task environment for empirical validation

Configurable prototypes

The instantiation of the workflow concept deployed into the original problem domain

engineers the methods for understanding the problem space. The methods of the Living Laboratory Framework are briefly described in Table 17.1, with more detailed descriptions found in Chapter 1.

In modern software design, cognitive systems engineering and the use of the living laboratory framework is performed by the UX professional. In its relation to cognitive systems engineering, UX is a subset of the applied skills with focus on usability engineering and human-centered design. A UX engineer functions as a member of a product development team, whose role is to consider the holistic UX of a product, from its inception as a concept workflow, to its final graphical design and usability (Garrett, 2010).

The UX engineer does not work alone, but works in tandem with other members of a product development team including but not limited to software developers and testers, communications and marketing personnel, and various managerial stakeholders. The UX professional is responsible for designing the product interface and working with the engineering team to implement the specifications. In this way, a UX professional is often referred to a team of one, serving multiple roles, and acting as a liaison from the customer and stakeholders to the software development team (Buley, 2013).

Although the scope of work is narrower compared to the larger domain of cognitive systems engineering, the application of the living laboratory framework is still relevant to the process of the UX professional. Modern software development requires a collaborative effort between stakeholders, users, UX professionals, and software developers that is aptly described through application of the living laboratory framework. Table 17.2 summarizes the areas of the living laboratory framework as seen through the lens of a UX engineer working in a modern software development environment (Table 17.2).

The remainder of this chapter will explore each of the main areas of the living laboratory framework as it pertains to the applied work of UX professionals in a software development team.

 
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