Contextualizing user centered design with agile methods in Ethiopia

Degif Teka, Y. Dittrich, Mesfin Kifle

Research output: Conference Article in Proceeding or Book/Report chapterArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


User centered design (UCD) provides principles and activities for improving usability. However, traditional UCD methods lack considering the context of users in low income, culturally diverse settings and where Information and Communication Technology (ICT) development is at its infant stage. Software development in low and medium income countries like Ethiopia is characterized by big difference in education and livelihood. Heterogeneous cultures both between different ethnic groups and between rural and urban contexts is another challenge for Ethiopian software development. The paper addresses how to adapt UCD methods and agile development to bridge these heterogeneities. To this end, a multi-case study was implemented, researching two projects in an Ethiopian software company. An action research approach has been complemented by a survey and interviews with other companies. It has resulted in contextualization of UCD practices: personas mediated between rural and urban users and developers. Personas helped also customer representatives as well as product owners to understand users and their requirements and allowed to test releases against persona requirements before deployment. Personas were updated throughout the project based on usability testing and experience from early deployment. Besides personas local IT personnel mediated between the rural users and software developers. Pairwise usability testing is an example for cultural adaptation for discount usability evaluation method that has been tried out. Releasing early version to support personnel and members of the company who are closer to the intended users helped to provide a more adapted version from the start.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIEEE Africon 2017 Proceedings
Number of pages6
Publication date1 Sept 2017
ISBN (Print)978-1-5386-2775-4/17
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017


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