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Introduction One focus in participatory design lies on the involvement and empowerment of the users to solve problems concerning their own work system. Performing his job over a long time period, the user is obviously the person who must have the best experiences and knowledge concerning his work processes and environment. But participatory design isn’t simply to ask the users what he want to have and to let him write the requirements list. Doing this nevertheless in a direct way and without reflection, experience has shown that the users aren’t able to declare their real problems or needs. One hindrance are inhibitions, as they are usual when people with different social or professional background come together and work together for the first time. But more complicated is the fact, that most of the interesting parts of the users knowledge are implicitly acquired and not revealed in free call. Confronted with this, the designer (e.g. the human factors engineer) has the chance to use tools which helps to overcome the users (and the designers) inhibitions, which are a stimuli for creativity and which help for a extraction and a better declaration of knowledge. One of those tools is presented in this paper: the VALAMO, a variable layout model for work process and requirement analysis or layout discussions in participatory processes. Method The VALAMO is a set of magnetic templates, representing work place elements (furniture, equipment, machines, etc.) in different scales and work persons in different body scales and certain postures. A mobile and portable folder (size 600x420mm) contents a metal surface and a device to mount a small video camera. The metal surface is a „white table“ for to place the magnetic templates and for to draw sketches or to write on it. In the participatory design process, the VALAMO is placed on the site of the concerned work place and on top of a table, on a chair or simply on the ground. Results The use of the VALAMO in different design processes (although abroad) shows his benefit as an ice-breaking device as well as a tool to facilitate the declaration of work processes and the finding of requirements for to improve them. One important item of the VALAMO-process is his simplicity, which is in opposite to complex methods of work place analysis. So the concerned people are enabled to approach easily (with less fears) to the method itself and to the underlying design problem. Beside of this simplicity, the VALAMO shows a kind of robustness, which facilitate his handling on the users site of the work system. Concentrated on the „white table“ surface, the users forgot the presence of the video camera. Especially because they know, that the camera only records the area of the VALAMO-Surface and therefore only the magnetic templates and sometimes the hands of the users or designers. As the camera records the voice, e.g. the design discussion too, a complete documentation is available for latter review and analysis. At least one practical effect of using magnetic templates is, that the VALAMO can be placed upside down on a photocopy machine to document the Layout. Discussion and Conclusion „Less is More!“ this statement of the well known architect Mies van der Rohe describes a wide range of tools, which are useful in participatory design projects. Paper-pencil prototyping of computer interfaces, the improvisation of work place mock-up’s with simple elements or role games playing by the users to simulate new work processes are some examples in this context. For a professional human factors engineer those tools might have the touch to be not serious and accurat, to be contrary to the competence based on the professional background . In fact the items of simplicity, robustness and the character of a game is in opposite to standardized check lists, complex analysis methods or computerized measurements. But it is the success, indicated by the innovations and by the high degree of acceptance of changes, that the user participation in the development of design solutions can convince traditional designers and bring themselves in an approach to participatory design methods. Show more
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Book titleHuman-computer interaction : proceedings of HCI International '99 (the 8th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction), Munich, Germany, August 22-26, 1999
Pages / Article No.
PublisherLawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc.
SubjectImplicit Knowledge; Knowledge elicitation; Participatory Design
Organisational unit02120 - Dep. Management, Technologie und Ökon. / Dep. of Management, Technology, and Ec.
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