Question and content
For the first time, TU Berlin and UdK Berlin were offering a joint seminar during the summer term 2014: "Usability for SMEs". The project focused on work with five software developer small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from Berlin. The seminar was taking place as part of the "UseTree" project. UseTree is the Berlin-based center of competence for usability measures. Among its members are representatives from TU Berlin and the UdK Berlin as well as partners from the economy and technology sectorsand the Büro für Arbeits- und Organisationspsychologie (Office for working and organizational psychology).
UseTree offers assistance to SMEs in gaining awareness of usability aspects to test their software for usability criteria and make improvements. Even though a high degree of user-friendliness offers competitive advantages, it's something that is often neglected by SMEs due to lack time and resources.
Benefits and target group
A total of 30 students from the TU Master's program "Human Factors" and the UdK's "Design" program were participating in the seminar. The aim of the seminar was to organize knowledge transfer from students to the companies and from companies to the students. In the process existing usability issues were uncovered for a selected aspect of a software product, requirements for changes were formulated and implemented in prototype form. Finally, the resulting prototypes were evaluated to determine whether the redesign has resulted in improvements. Thus a cycle of user-centered design was gone through all the way one time.
The companies were strongly integrated in all steps of the seminar. So they learned either how to implement usability on their own or where to find competent help after the event. Students got to know how companies function and benefited from interdisciplinary cooperation within the team. The cooperation between "designers" and "human factors experts" thus enjoyed a great deal of success. The companies were not only enthusiastic about the first results, they've gone so far as to create new jobs for student employees to continue implementing usability measures after the end of the seminar. This is a way to gain expertise in usability engineering.