Visual notation design 2.0: Towards user comprehensible requirements engineering notations

Patrice Caire, Nicolas Genon, Patrick Heymans, Daniel L. Moody

Research output: Contribution in Book/Catalog/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

The success of requirements engineering depends critically on effective communication between business analysts and end users, yet empirical studies show that business stakeholders understand RE notations very poorly. This paper proposes a novel approach to designing RE visual notations that actively involves naïve users in the process. We use i*, one of the most influential RE notations, to demonstrate the approach, but the same approach could be applied to any RE notation. We present the results of 5 related empirical studies that show that novices outperform experts in designing symbols that are comprehensible to novices: the differences are both statistically significant and practically meaningful. Symbols designed by novices increased semantic transparency (their ability to be spontaneously interpreted by other novices) by almost 300% compared to the existing i* notation. The results challenge the conventional wisdom about visual notation design: that it should be conducted by a small group of experts; our research suggests that it should instead be conducted by large numbers of novices. The approach is consistent with Web 2.0, in that it harnesses the collective intelligence of end users and actively involves them in the notation design process as 'prosumers' rather than passive consumers. We believe this approach has the potential to radically change the way visual notations are designed in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2013 21st IEEE International Requirements Engineering Conference, RE 2013 - Proceedings
Pages115-124
Number of pages10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2013
Event2013 21st IEEE International Requirements Engineering Conference, RE 2013 - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Duration: 15 Jul 201319 Jul 2013

Conference

Conference2013 21st IEEE International Requirements Engineering Conference, RE 2013
CountryBrazil
CityRio de Janeiro
Period15/07/1319/07/13

Keywords

  • Analysis
  • Empirical research
  • End user communication
  • Modelling
  • Requirements analysis
  • Visual languages

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    Caire, P., Genon, N., Heymans, P., & Moody, D. L. (2013). Visual notation design 2.0: Towards user comprehensible requirements engineering notations. In 2013 21st IEEE International Requirements Engineering Conference, RE 2013 - Proceedings (pp. 115-124). [6636711] https://doi.org/10.1109/RE.2013.6636711