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Although a bewildering variety of software tools for modeling and design are available, almost nothing specifically to support usage-centered design has been released. For larger applications of usage-centered design or within highly systematic process driven by the likes of ISO 9001, some groups have been experimenting  with mainstream tools such as Visual UML or Rational Rose, although none of these tools currently provides full and direct support for the models of usage-centered design. Methodologist Tony Wasserman has compiled a wealth of information on the range of available commercial CASE tools on his Software Methods and Tools Web site.

We're not in the software tools business ourselves, but watch this space for recommendations regarding commercial tools. And contact us with details of your experiences with usage-centered design using available software tools.

Inter-rater Concordance for Rankings

Rank ordering an inventory of user roles or tasks is a convenient way to help set priorities for establishing project scope, managing successive releases, and negotiating among stakeholders with varied interests and perspectives. We often try to get independent rankings by clients, end users, and designers, then combine the results. But how do you tell whether you have enough agreement to rely on averages or combined ranks? One way is to compute the concordance among independent rankings. For years we've used a convenient statistic, Kendall's W, computed with a spreadsheet template. Our colleague Daniel Maher helped turn our crude Excel spreadsheet into a more robust tool for general use. Download it and try it out (about 34KB as .XLS file).


A bit of an embarrassment, this PowerPoint hack was originally devised as a temporary teaching tool for modeling user roles, task cases, and content models. It was never intended for broad distribution or production use. Still, we continue to get many requests, and the download rate has not tapered off, so it must have some value. We offer it as is, without promises or warranties, in  the hopes that someone will be inspired to produce a real tool. Download EuCase99 (about 841KB as self-extracting ZIP file; requires MS PowerPoint 95, 97, or later).