Usability challenges in an Ethiopian software development organization

Degif Teka, Yvonne Dittrich, Mesfin Kifle

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


Usability and user centered design (UCD) are central to software development. In developing countries, the gap between IT development and the local use situation is larger than in western countries. However, usability is neither well addressed in software practice nor at the policy making level in Ethiopia. Software practitioners focus on functional requirements, meeting deadlines and budget. The software development industry in Ethiopia is in its early stage. The article aims at understanding usability practices in an Ethiopian software development company. Developers, system analysts, product owners and users were studied. In this first phase of the research, participatory observation, a workshop and interviews with practitioners and operational staff were analyzed. Informal discussions have been observed to outweigh formal meetings for sharing experience and ideas. Practitioners' internal configuration, their experience, cultural knowledge and common sense regarding the users' situation guided the design. Prototypes and fast delivery of working versions helped in getting user feedback even if early user focus proved to be a challenge as communication between developers and users suffered from several layers of indirection. Further challenges are the heterogeneity of users to be supported, a lack of awareness of usability methods, and lacking resources.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 9th International Workshop on Cooperative and Human Aspects of Software Engineering, CHASE@ICSE 2016, Austin, Texas, USA, May 16, 2016
Number of pages7
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Publication date2016
ISBN (Print)978-1-4503-4155-4
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventCooperative and Human Aspects of Software Engineering 2016 - Workshop at the International Conference of Software Engineering, Austin, United States
Duration: 16 May 201616 May 2016
Conference number: 2016


ConferenceCooperative and Human Aspects of Software Engineering 2016
LocationWorkshop at the International Conference of Software Engineering
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


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