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SAP User Experience Glossary

By UX Design & Research Methodology, SAP User Experience, SAP AG – February 1, 2006


The following glossary defines User Experience terms, particularly for User-Centered Design (UCD) and Product Standard Usability.


Accessibility – Degree to which everyone is able to access and use electronic and information technology, regardless of their possible visual, auditory, mobile, or cognitive impairments. See Section 508

Actors – Following Cockburn's "Writing Effective Use Cases" (2001), these are human or non-human roles that perform actions with the intent of accomplishing goals. A single application or product will likely have many roles and goals. A single use case typically has only one goal and one actor, but may include more to achieve a complex goal.

CIF (Common Industry Format) usability test – Formal usability test conducted to assess an application's usability after it has been developed. CIF-style tests provide benchmark usability metrics that allow performance to be measured and tracked over time, typically across major releases.

Customers – Individuals within a company responsible for making purchasing decisions about software and applications, e.g., IT professional, in contrast to the end users of those applications, e.g., purchasing agents, sales account managers, human resource professionals.

Design review – Typically a review among UID peers that assesses UI design work in progress, with the intention of providing constructive feedback on ways to improve the UI, e.g., feedback can be provided on design sketches, mockups, prototypes, or a working system.

Design review (UCD) – A review that occurs either at end of Phase 3 of UCD, after pre-development to assess the overall UI design, or at end of Phase 3 of UCD, after development to assess how well the UI design complies with UI Standards, e.g., building blocks.

Design Studio – A tool developed by SAP that allows screen user interface mockups and prototypes to be created. This tool also allows HTML prototypes to be created based on the SAP library of Unified Rendering controls. For certain development areas, Design Studio also contains specific predefined user interface building blocks and patterns.

Discussion guide – A detailed written outline of the topics an interviewer will address and the questions s/he will ask during a focus group or site visit; also commonly referred to as an "interview guide".

End user – Anyone who works directly with SAP software or applications as a regular part of his/her job – in contrast to a customer, who is typically involved in purchasing and/or supporting such software or applications – synonymous with "user".

Expert benchmark – A measurement and comparison technique used, e.g., in CIF usability studies. An expert user, e.g., someone who knows the application very well, such as the lead Solution Manager, UID, or Developer is asked to perform a particular task and the time it takes him/her to complete the task is recorded. The expert's time is then typically plotted against the time it takes test participants to perform the same task.

Field research – A broad range of activities and techniques used to understand customers and end-users in the "field", e.g., at customers' and prospective customers' work settings. These activities and techniques include ways to observe and record common and exceptional tasks, work environments, tools and artifacts, social interdependencies, common pain points, preferences, and unfulfilled needs; the goal is to thoroughly learn about customers' and their work environment.

Focus group – A moderated discussion or interview with a group of people who typically perform similar jobs, e.g., often following interview scripts that probe their roles, responsibilities and tasks, feedback on existing products, and desired enhancements and functionality. Some focus groups can even allow group members to interact and explore commonalities and needs using a wide range of props and exercises, e.g., day-in-the-life sketches, representations of pain points, etc.

Heuristic evaluation – A group of UIDs examine an existing prototype, application, or service from a user´s perspective. Using a set of rules-of-thumb, or "heuristics", they independently identify and rate problem areas. Typically one member of the group pools the responses and provides recommendations for how to make the product, application, or service more usable.

High fidelity prototype – An interactive prototype that embodies much of the look and feel of a final user interface. Such a prototype often includes essential functionality and looks and behaves similar to a real application. The degree of fidelity required depends on the prototype's purpose (e.g., to share design concepts, provide discussion with targeted end users, run usability test, etc.).

KPI (Key Performance Indicator) – A metric used alone, or in combination with other KPIs, to monitor how well a business is achieving quantifiable objectives. In the SAP UCD methodology, a composite "usability" KPI consists of measures of user effectiveness, user efficiency, and user satisfaction.

Low fidelity prototype – A quick, inexpensive, flexible set of sketches or storyboards that illustrate conceptual aspects of an application's tasks and task flows. Such a prototype is typically created on whiteboards or paper, and sometimes using presentation software (e.g. Microsoft PowerPoint).

Magnitude usability – Magnitude usability is a subjective measure of usability based on magnitude estimation. Magnitude estimation is a proven psychophysical measurement method particularly useful for multi-faceted perceptions (e.g., usability) with complex underlying physical stimuli (e.g., interface design). It can be used to develop a universal scale of usability.

Rapid prototyping – Method of quickly creating UI screens, or "mockups" that represent key aspects of an application's user interface, e.g., with paper, HTML, Powerpoint, Excel, Design Studio, etc.

Role – A particular set of processes, activities, services, and/or knowledge-management functions performed to achieve desired business objectives. A role defines how a business process is accomplished, and how the business process helps achieve particular business objectives.

Scenario – Following Cockburn's "Writing Effective Use Cases" (2001), a sequence of interactions (or steps) involved in achieving the primary actor's goal, and resulting in a specific outcome with respect to that goal. Interactions begin with a triggering action and continue until the primary actor's goal is achieved or abandoned, and the system completes whatever is required to complete the interaction.

Section 508 – In 1998, the United States' Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act (a US federal law), and required that all Federal agencies must make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. This law applies to all US Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology. Under Section 508 (29 U.S.C. ‘794d), agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to information that is comparable to access available to those without disabilities.

Site visit – A visit to a customer's premises or workplace to learn about end users' needs and requirements in their normal work environments. Often used synonymously with "field research", site visits provide means to conduct field research, e.g., in offices, on shop floors, in manufacturing facilities, or on mobile routes to understand users and their work environments.

Stakeholder review – A meeting used to communicate progress on a product, and to establish alignment among internal SAP product stakeholders. The objective is to determine if the product is ready for the next stage of development or needs further work. A review meeting includes an overview of the product's UCD work and the key decisions made. Stakeholders provide feedback relative to their roles within SAP (e.g., Solution Management, Development, and User Interface Designer), but also contribute to a common understanding and vision about where the product is headed. The review held at the end of Phase 2 of UCD assesses Users and interaction, while the review at the end of Phase 3 of UCD assesses the UI design.

Task – The outcome of a task analysis that decomposes a particular job or role into a set of components ("tasks") required to accomplish business objectives and/or users' goals.

Task analysis – Process and set of methods used to identify and examine the kinds of tasks end users must perform to accomplish their work. This typically occurs in Phase 1 of UCD, Understand Users, as users' needs and task requirements are defined on the basis of interviews and site visits.

Trigger/Triggering action – Following Cockburn's "Writing Effective Use Cases" (2001), the action (or activity) that starts a use case.

UI scorecard – A deliverable from a UX Review of how well the user interface complied with UI standards at the end of Phase 3 of UCD.

Usability lab – A facility with dedicated equipment used to test prototypes and working applications with representative end users. SAP operates a central usability laboratory in Walldorf, Germany, and a temporary usability lab in Palo Alto, California that will be replaced with a permanent lab in 2006.

Usability Test – A method to assess a prototype or application's usability, by asking representative users to perform various tasks and then noting how well they performed them, .e.g., identifying problems in navigation, terminology, task flow, etc. "Formative" usability studies tend to provide less quantitative assessment of performance, while "summative" usability studies record more quantitative data, e.g., time on task, task completion rates, and the composite UCD usability KPI (user effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction).

Use case – Following Cockburn's "Writing Effective Use Cases" (2001), a collection of possible scenarios between a given system and external actors that describe the system's behavior under various conditions as the system responds to requests, e.g., from the primary actor who initiates an interaction with the system to accomplish a particular goal.

User – Anyone who works directly with SAP software or applications as a regular part of his/her job – in contrast to a customer, who is typically involved in purchasing and/or supporting such software or applications – synonymous with "end user".

User-centered design (UCD) – A research and design methodology that is both a philosophy and set of methods that focuses on designing for and involving end-users in the development process. UCD is based on based on four principles: 1) focus on "real" end-users, 2) validate UI requirements and designs, 3) design and prototype iteratively, and 4) understand and design for holistic user experiences. The SAP UCD consists of 3 Phases, Understand Users, Define Interaction, and Design UI.

User interface designer (UID) – Person who consults developers with respect to the design of the user interface and interaction of an application. The UID may also design and create the user interface him- or herself. At SAP, user interface designers are organized 1) in a central group, the User Experience (UX) group, and 2) decentralized in development groups. The UX coordinates the information flow for the UIDs in the company and among the UIDs and the UX group.

User profile – A part of the deliverables from Phase 1 of UCD, Understand Users, that describes users' distinguishing characteristics and aspects of their work environment that inform what the user interface should include.

User requirements – Detailed descriptions of the capabilities the software must provide to satisfy users' needs and desires–identified, analyzed, categorized, and prioritized based on end-user and stakeholder interviews and observations, artifact inspections, existing system and process analyses, and competitive assessments.

Users specification – Deliverable from Phase 1 of UCD, Understand Users, consisting of user profiles, descriptions of work activities, and user requirements of the targeted user population.

UX UCD support level – UX is using a three-tiered model of support, classified as A, B, and C projects. All "A" projects will have dedicated UX UI design resources assigned to them. These resources will provide UCD guidance throughout the entire development lifecycle, e.g., working closely with Solution Managers as end user requirements are gathered, developing UI prototypes, validating those prototypes with representative end users, and working closely with Development as designs (prototypes)are coded. UX will provide a UCD curriculum and offer courses to support UCD. "B" projects will not have dedicated UX resources. However, UX will provide UCD materials and educational courses that will enable application Solution Managers and Developers to take advantage of UCD processes, tools, and templates. UX representatives will work with B project owners in an advisory capacity to help foster understanding and use of UCD processes and methods, e.g., as use cases are developed and prototypes are created. "C" projects will not have dedicated UX resources either. While they will have full access to all UCD materials, including guidelines and templates on the UX portal, as well as opportunities to take UCD classes, they will receive no direct advisory support from UX experts.

Work activities – Descriptions of activities associated with specific business requirements that end users perform to accomplish their jobs, e.g., activities that flow through different users as they are processed, or specific activities that one user performs. These activities are depicted in a high-level overview diagram and one or more diagrams segmented by user type as identified in "User Profiles". Work Activities and User Profiles specify "User Requirements" and are documented together as a deliverable of Phase 1 of UCD, Understand Users, in the "Users Specification".



Alistair Cockburn (2001). Writing Effective Use Cases. Addison-Wesley. ISBN: 0201702258


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