Engineering the Future of Software
18-19 October 2016: Training
19-21 October 2016: Tutorials & Conference
London, UK

Interfaces include people

Caroline Jarrett (Effortmark Ltd)
13:15–14:05 Friday, 21/10/2016
User experience design
Location: Blenheim Room Level: Beginner
Average rating: ****.
(4.50, 2 ratings)

What you'll learn

  • Learn to distinguish between software that is “deployed,” “delivered,” and "done"


Interfaces have always been areas of peril in software development. Caroline Jarrett challenges teams to include interfaces with people in their notions of where development begins and ends, calling for user research, investigation, and tracking of the people and paper parts of processes as well as the computer ones. If you deliver software that has to be used by real people, Caroline will help you distinguish between software that is “deployed” and actually “delivered.”

Caroline offers three perspectives on the people involved with your software: people who help delivery to happen, people who use things that we deliver, and people in their rich variety. Caroline begins by reflecting on her own experience developing and delivering computer systems for shops in her first job after graduation. In those days before PCs and the Internet, delivery was difficult and testing was hard. People who may have worked in development early in their careers and are now senior managers may find it harder to adapt to today’s concepts of rapid build and delivery cycles.

Caroline’s career route led her into a fascination with forms—to be exact with the challenge of making forms that are easy for people to fill in. Drawing on this experience, she explores some of the ways that people are different from computers and suggests a definition of “done” that is based on whether people can use what we deliver for something that they want to do. Caroline concludes with a description of the rich variety of people and discusses how designing for variety helps everyone.

Photo of Caroline Jarrett

Caroline Jarrett

Effortmark Ltd

Caroline Jarrett is a forms specialist. She helps organizations make their forms easier to fill in and cut the costs of business processes that include forms. Caroline has been a project manager in recovery since 1994.

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Picture of Caroline Jarrett
Caroline Jarrett
27/10/2016 15:10 BST

Hi Hugh, thanks for the summary.

The slides are now available:

Picture of Hugh Greene
21/10/2016 23:48 BST

Hi Caroline, thanks for an entertaining and thought-provoking talk. Some thoughts I’ll take away:

  • The “old guard” and the “young guns” can both help each other understand how a particular system could be developed.
  • Having user personas and user stories is all very well, but it helps to examine real individuals. How does your system cope with users who are sleepy, or like to do things in a particular order, or have one arm in a cast, or …
  • Putting people into your system diagrams can help think about overall behaviour differently. People are less reliable than computers, but more inventive. How do you properly test a system involving people?
  • Most systems involve people ;-)