Improving the Modelling of Human-Centric Aspects of Software Systems

Age-augmented wireframe example

Improving the Modelling of Human-Centric Aspects of Software Systems

Taking into account the diverse human aspects – gender, age, emotions, personality, language, culture, physical and mental challenges, etc – is critical towards achieving more human-centric design of software systems. Human-centric aspects affecting software have long been underestimated or even ignored as a result of the lack of in-depth capture and understanding during development. The use of technology has become the norm and the range of users has increased from just adults to children as well as seniors. Modelling frameworks are methods to represent the way a software system should be defined, and to date, little research has been done on age-related issues within modelling frameworks. In this paper, we investigate how human-centric aspects regarding age can be better modelled by extending these modelling frameworks. We introduce an extension to wireframe-based designs so that they can cater for decisions regarding age within the modelling framework. We have evaluated this modelling extension using multiple questionnaires as well as usability testing by using the extended age-modelling wireframe approach to design a news app. Questionnaires were used to evaluate the requirements of the users and developers for the extended wireframes. Our analysis shows that when using our extended wireframes, developers can cater for different user types and their accessibility needs easily and therefore users can use the prototypes with more ease.

Method

We seek to improve the modelling process to better meet the human-centric issues regarding age. Our objective is to critically analyse the existing models, extend these models, and eventually build a prototype. For the evaluation, we will identify whether developers are easily able to create software systems with better usability for all age groups as well as whether the different user types are able to easily use the software systems. Our research aim is to investigate how human-centric aspects regarding age can be expressed in current modelling frameworks, and to this aim, we focus on three key research questions:

RQ1. Which modelling frameworks are best fitted for adding human-centric aspects regarding age? – For example, use case diagrams, class diagrams, wireframes, etc. To determine whether creating a new modelling framework or extending an existing one will be better, and to find out which one is the most extendable if we choose the later. To do this, we have gathered results from a developer survey and relevant research papers.

RQ2. What progress can be made on humancentric aspects regarding age for requirements collection and modelling? – How can we best model user characteristics regarding age in software requirements and/or design models? For example, by enlarging fonts based on age, simpler user interfaces for elderly people, explanation on certain keywords, etc. We need to define the age range for each of the age groups as well as identify human-centric aspects that can be improved for each of the age groups.

RQ3. What application domains would benefit from human-centric aspects regarding age? – For example, common applications such as news apps, discussion forums, social media, etc. We wanted to find out whether there are certain domains that can best use or extend our new modelling framework, and to find any patterns or reasons that make this so.

Findings

There is a need to incorporate human-centric aspects into modelling frameworks in order to improve the suitability of software produced for diverse end users. There are many existing modelling frameworks, and we expect that modifying existing modelling frameworks will be better than creating a completely new one. Most do not currently support modelling the age of end users and providing different design solutions for different age groups and needs of end users. We developed a set of extensions to the commonly used wireframe modelling approach to incorporate different designs for child, adult and senior end users. We evaluated our modelling approach with developers and a prototype news app developed using our approach with a range of differently aged end users.

Publication

  • Jim, A.Y., Shim, H., Wang, J., Wijaya, L.R.,  Xu, R. Khalajzadeh, H., Grundy, J.C., Kanij, T., Improving the Modelling of Human-Centric Aspects of Software Systems, 16th International Conference on Evaluation of Novel Approaches to Software Engineering (ENASE2021), online, 26-27 April, 2021 -- Final publication available at DOI Author pre-published version PDF