Author Archives: Åsa Cajander

About Åsa Cajander

Researcher in the area of Human Computer Interaction with research interest in eHealth, User Centred Design and HCI Education.

Recommended course: For a Healthy Digital Work Environment

Gerolf Nauwerck and I have been invited to hold seminars and a workshop at this course organised by NIVA. I think that it looks like a very promising course, and the different lecturers will participate and discuss the topic of healthy digital work environment together with the ones who join the course.

Course objectives (copied from page above)

  • To increase knowledge about occupational health issues in relation to the digital work environment
  • To bring together knowledge from different disciplines to propose work organization solutions that ensure recovery, health, performance and productivity, for a sustainable digital work environment.

Sara Thomée, Psychologist, PhD, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, SE  is the main organiser of the course.

 – See you there!


Workshop on Education in a New IT system

I attended a workshop about education in the new economy system this week.  It was a very well organised workshop with representatives from all stakeholder groups involved in the education of the system. The discussion was facilitated by a workshop leader, and we discussed who would get education and and what the education should contain.

The workshop started with a presentation by me and Annika Björklund from the local Ladok project. I presented some general ideas from a study I did on economical staff and IT a few years ago, and Annika presented the ideas they are working with in relation to the Ladok project.

Annika has asked users what they want from education, and they said what is found in this slide:

  • Local support. How do we solve that?
  • Screen sharing with the support people
  • Courses that go deep into topics
  • Workshops where it’s possible to discuss your day to day problems with an expert.

workshop Ekonomi .png

I am very much looking forward to following this project. One part of the project will be rolled out in October, and the rest later on next spring.

UCD Blog 2: What can we do to make better IT systems?

There is quite a lot of evidence both made by researcher and companies such as the Standish group and Google that one of the key success factors when developing computer systems is user involvement.

If you want to work with user involvement in your projects there are many user centered processes to choose from such as UCSD, rapid contextual design, and participatory design. These processes vary some in their values and ways of working, but I have chosen to see them as complimentary and when used in practice they are all good in different ways.

There is even an ISO standard that defines user centered design for those who are curious.

User centered design processes are iterative, and you iterate either between all the stages of the process, or the last three stages depending on the complexity of the organization, the requirements and the system built.

The first step in these user centered processes is to understand the context of use where you specify the user and organizational requirements. This is usually done through using one or several of the following methods:

  • Interviews
  • Meetings with users
  • Workshops
  • Field studies
  • Vision seminars

After you have done work on understanding the context of use you move on to specifying the user requirements. This is usually done through using one or several of the following:

  • Personas descriptions
  • Scenarios
  • User Stories
  • Usability goals
  • Vision seminar documentation

When this is done, you work with producing design solutions of different kinds. This is usually done through using one or several of the following methods:

  • Paper prototypes
  • Wireframes
  • Sketches
  • Prototypes

The last step in this iterative design process is the evaluation of the prototype. This is usually done through using one or several of the following methods:

  • Expert evaluation
  • Prototype interview
  • Formal evaluation (in a lab)
  • Informal evaluation

Knowing how to use user centered methods, in what context and in what format is really a professional skill in itself, and I will not elaborate further on the topic in this blog post but recommend the books Rapid Contextual Design and Användracentrerad systemutveckling (in Swedish) for the curious reader.

The next blog post in this series will elaborate on the problems encountered when trying to establish or institutionalize user centered design and UX in organizations.

Paper on Unexpected Student Behaviour and Learning Opportunities @ Frontiers in Education 2017

This paper was really collaborative work, and the analysis was a joint effort with many great minds. We had many good meetings about the paper before we wrote it up, and the different authors contributed with their expertise.

The paper abstract: 

“One of the challenges in being a teacher is to set up an educational setting where the students receive relevant learning opportunities for the specific course, the students’ education in general, and for their future. However, efforts to create such educational settings do not always work in the way that faculty has intended. In this paper we investigate one such effort seen from a critical incident perspective. Central to the analysis in this paper is how the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) can provide explanations for the incident. The critical incident can be summarised as students refusing to take part in a non-compulsory, but from the faculty perspective highly educational, activity. We describe the incident in depth, give thebackground for the educational intervention, and analyse the incident from the perspective of TPB. This paper makes two major contributions to engineering education research. The first is the development of a method for analysing critical teaching and learning incidents using the TPB. The critical incident analysisillustrates how the method is used to analyse and reason about the students’ behaviour. Another contribution is the development of a range of insights which deal with challenges raised by Learning interventions, especially those involved with acquiring hidden or ”invisible skills” not usually seen or acknowledged by students to belong to core subject area of a degree program.”

The idea to make use of theories on behavior to understand students came from Hadadgar’s PhD thesis that I examined a few months ago (about physicians, learning and antibiotics)

Jonas Moll has written more about the papers that we got accepted. You find his blog post here. It’s a recommended read!

Visit at the University of Pretoria – Now My Research Batteries are Fully Charged Again with Inspiration:-)

My visit to the University of Pretoria was really great.

I am so happy I took the time to do this despite a full calendar!

I met Helene Gelderblom and her research group “UX in South Africa”.  They do research related to establishment of UX in organizations. This is indeed very related to the large majority of my research projects. See for example the blog posts on the SISU project and the blog post describing my PhD.

The whole visit was very well organized, and I had meetings with very many interesting people about their research in my areas such as research on eHealh, professional competencies, management and IT and why UX is not included in software development.

During the week, I did a seminar in one of their courses, see previous blog post. I also did an open seminar for the whole department, and participated in a workshop where we discussed their research studies. There were indeed many extremely relevant and interesting studies presented. I was impressed with the depth and quality of their work! This gave me inspiration, and also motivating to continue doing research in this area!! My research batteries are now fully charged again J

I also helped some with reviewing an application for funding. If funded the project would create a platform for their UX in South Africa work, including funding for traveling etc. I really hope that they are funded! They are so worth it given their ambitions and the quality of their work!

The visit resulted in a plan for a journal publication and trying to edit a special issue on our topic.

This weekend we also went on a safari together. The elephant experience was really something special. We go to see wild elephants just two meters away. Such an amazing experience!

UCD Blog 1: IT Projects are Seldom Successful, and IT for Work is Problematic 

The last few weeks I have done lectures related to IT and UCD in different organisations.  I will do a blog series about these lectures, and I will also write some words about the different aspects that have been discussed in these seminars. I start out by saying a few words abou the situation with IT projects and the quality of IT systems.

Many investigations conclude that a majority of IT projects fail and do not deliver on time, on budget and with a satisfactory result. According to the Standish group’s definition of success only around 30 % of all IT projects are successful. This means that around 70% of all IT projects deliver too late, with low quality or with unsatisfactory results. These numbers are really horrible!

If one look at the computer systems for work, the problems are obvious and enormous. This is for example reflected in the organisation Unionen’s reports on digital work environment for white collar workers in Sweden.  These reports are based on surveys to employees that are members of the union named Unionen. They are named in the following way (translated from Swedish), and I let the titles speak for themselves:

2008: Why does not it get any better ?
2010: A system error ?
2011: Always Connected – Never Relaxed.
2012: One step ahead and two steps back.
2014:- No Lighting in sight.

The IT systems in health care do not work any better, as can be discvovered when reading any newspaper. The headlines in the photo to this blog post show some of the recent ones that I could find, and here you see some of the problems in the headlines:

X-ray Care has Large Problems Due to New IT system

Mapping shows: Non-stable IT support in ambulance care

Windows update reason for enormous breakdown at the hospitals in Uppsala

Stockholm cleans up among health care systems – investing 200 millions

UX and Agile at the University of Pretoria

Last week I did a lecture at the University of Pretoria where I am visiting this week. There were about 45 students who were really active and interested. I started out the lecture by presenting myself, and then asked them what they knew about UX and Agile. They used Mentimeter when answering the questions, and the distribution revealed that they thought they had moderate to little knowledge. I hope that they know some more about the topic after the lecture 🙂

UX agile mentimeter

I presented some of the work that Marta Larusdotter and I have done and discussed some of the different ways UX work can be integrated in Agile.

We finished the seminar with a role play exercise where they got to dicsuss the different opionions one can meet when working with UX in Agile. When asked what they thought interesting about the excercise most of them said that it was interesting that all opinions about UX and Agile can have valid arguments, event though the opinion in itself is odd.

It was a very intelligent and promising group of students. And I really enjoyed meeting them!



Recruitment of an HTO Action Research Member

Our group is expanding and during the last weeks Jonas Moll and I have worked with the applications for the post doc position that we annonced in two action research projects: The “Digital work environment and Ehealth project”  that we have with Region Uppsala and the “Envisioning Business Administration Project” that we have with the university administration of Uppsala University. 

Working as an action reseracher in these projects requires a skilled and social reseracher who wants to work in collaboration with organisations related to the design and development of IT systems for work. We also want someone who has experience in doing reserach in either or both of these settings, and preferably someone who contributes to the diversity of the group. Unfortunately we need someone who speaks Swedish which makes it a bit difficult.

Jonas Moll and I have worked in a very structured way with assessment of the applications. First we developed an assessment rubrics based on the advertisment text, and we then worked both separately and collaborately.

The following weeks we will do interviews with candidates, and for this we have made use of a good material from Lund University on recrutiment of PhD students. We have adapted the matieral to our context, and now we are ready for interviews. We will also make sure that the candidates will meet other mambers of the HTO group to get a better grip of the work environment.

I’ll keep you posted about what happens!


Visiting University of Pretoria to Work on User Centred Design

This week I have been invited to visit the University of Pretoria, and a Human-computer interaction research group there. I am invited by professor Helene Gelderblom to discuss and collaborate around user-centred design approaches, and my husband is invited to discuss his resarch in comptuer science education.

During our stay in Pretoria I will give two seminars, participate in a workshop, discuss a a grant proposal and also work on a common publication. It will be a busy week, and I am really looking forward to this  🙂 .

Professor Helene Gelderblom has also arranged for us to go on a safari trip one day during the weekend. That will be really great fun! I’ve never been to a safari trip!

UX Fail and Customer Service

A week ago I lost my UL card that I use for commuting to work. Luckily it was possible to block it on the UL web page. So I did. It said that they would send a new card within five days. So far so good.

However, five days passed, and today I went to the UL office to ask what had happened.

The person at the desk said to me that I had probably forgotten to ask for a new card after I had blocked the old card. This is a very common thing that people very often missed.

He said:

Many customers don’t do this the right way! They miss that you need to do it in two separate steps. First block the card, and then order a new card. The second step is very much further down on the screen way, way past all the other information.

He then showed me on my screen. After I have blocked my card I need to scroll down around one full screen of empty space to an icon of a man with a text. If you click the text on this icon (non-visible and I didn’t even find it when he showed it) you get a form where you can ask for a new UL card.

I said that this was really a hidden icon and scrolling was completely non-intuitive in the design. One could even say that it was really a hidden part of the web page.

He said I was wrong, and that the design was made for a proper big screen, not my Mac-book ( 15”) and not for the screen that he used at the UL counter work either. The screen to use was a much bigger screen than these two, and the system worked perfectly if you used it with the screen it was intended for. I said that my 15” computer is quite a standard laptop, and that designs should be made for many kinds of devices and screens nowadays.  He didn’t answer but looked a bit embarassed.

I tried to say to him that this was not me being stupid, and that this is really bad UX design. He looked a bit puzzled.

I then asked him if he could give me a new UL card straight away instead of me ordering one at the web page and wait another five days. Of course, this was not possible, and I need to pay extra ticket to get home, and wait another five days for my card.  He did not know if the 30 day ticket that I had on he card would be put on hold during these days, or if I simply lost 10 days from the 30 days.

Please UL and other service organizations:

  • If many customers do the same wrong thing, it is a sign of bad UX design. It is not a sign of lots of incompetent customers.
  • People use many kinds of devices, and you should design for this. There are no excuses!
  • If the UX design is so crappy that normal people don’t understand it, and you cannot do anything about it, then you need to have a good service design around it. Do not make the customer pay extra tickets in situations caused by bad UX design like this one.
  • Do something about the UX of your web page if it is a disaster!