Review : “METAPHOR, MYTH AND MIMICRY: THE BASES OF SOFTWARE ENGINEERING. By Antony Bryant”

The paper discusses the evolvement of software engineering from simple software development.The author Antony Bryant presents different metaphors, myths and points of view of some scholars.The development of software is always a complex and risky business in terms of cost, reliability and maintainability of the final product. Fortunately, software engineering is still a young and growing profession that sees innovations and improvements in best practices every year.The nature of software engineering discipline and its relationship to computer science, information systems and other areas of studys has always been a contentious issue, training, career development, funding, professionalism (particularly in term of visibility, certification and recognition) and to any certain knowledge makes it as a distinctive discipline according to authors views.

From early 1960 the term “software engineering” is a problematic itself. With the passage of time the real focus was a shift from software writing to software development process. From the start the real issues were always delivery on time, excess of budget and most of the time not meeting clients requirements. The dilemma is software developers want to mimic the engineers,and simply lay a claim for engineering status discipline but this does not fulfil commercial demands and consumer desires. One thing that surprised me most is the argument of Brooke that metaphor shift from writing software to building software and he asserts that the growing of software using incremental development on his project and the result was dramatic which i believed proved to be one of the metaphor to use incremental technique to build software now a days.Furthermore different metaphors for software engineering and the contradiction between old and new metaphors result of software ciris due to nature of software according to Brooke’s arguments. but according to Braynt there are some other factors which may result for software crisis like gathering correct requirements etc.

Braynt also mentioned that requirements phase which is one of the crucial phase in software development. All the requirement specification, definitions and validation should be concise, clear and complete. Braynt also describes two metaphors which are very important in requirements phase. One he called “Conduit metaphor” which a communication phase between stakeholders and thoughts, feelings and intuitions transferred between stakeholders.
The other is “tools-maker paradigm” proposed by Reddy which is more real approach where people do not have much information about each other, live in different places but share information with each other. Hence both these metaphors are highly significant for requirement phase as conduit metaphor requirements shows requirements should be captured correctly while tools-maker paradigm shows that iterative and collaborative inputs os required from all the participants.

In the nutshell I believed that miscommunication is a real issue for software crisis and Bryant suggested that there should be a collaborative environment where participants communicate each other easily and capture correct requirements effectively to develop better software. One more thing I would like to comment on author view is that if the requirements are not clearly communicated to developers it may result to software failure.

Cost Justifying Usability (Case studies of different organizations)

 

Below are gathered case study summaries from multiple authoritative sources and are based on numerous research projects:

The benefits of good web design

Creative Good

  • To hammer home its point, Creative Good offered the striking revelation that a dollar spent on advertising during the 1998 holiday season produced $5 in total revenue, while a dollar spent on customer experience improvements yielded more than $60.

IBM

  • On IBM’s website, the most popular feature was the search function, because the site was difficult to navigate. The second most popular feature was the ‘help’ button, because the search technology was so ineffective. IBM’s solution was a 10-week effort to redesign the site, which involved more than 100 employees at a cost estimated ‘in the millions.’ The result: In the first week after the redesign, use of the ‘help’ button decreased 84 per cent, while sales increased 400 per cent.

Jakob Nielsen

  • Alert Box, June 2000. It’s quite normal for e-commerce sites to increase sales by 100% or more as a result of usability, but configurator-driven sites can probably increase sales by at least 500% by emphasizing usability. More important, they can probably avoid 9 of 10 returns by eliminating most mis-designed items.

The cost of bad web design

Creative Good

  • Poor customer experiences will have a devastating effect on holiday revenues, even with the most conservative estimates. Given an estimated $9.5 billion in holiday spending despite a 39 per cent failure rate, the industry stands to lose over $6 billion.
  • 39 per cent of test shoppers failed in their buying attempts because sites were too difficult to navigate. Additionally, 56 per cent of search attempts failed.

Cyber Dialogue

  • The absolute number of online bankers grew 100,000 to a total of 6.3 million in the past 12 months, but 3.1 million U.S. adults have discontinued their use of online banking according to Cybercitizen Finance from Cyber Dialogue. The study also found that only 35 per cent of online bankers that discontinued their service were inclined to try it again.
  • “Although Cybercitizens begin banking online to save time, more than 50 per cent have discontinued use because they find the service too complicated or were dissatisfied with the level of customer service,” said Michael Weiksner, Manager of Finance Strategies at Cyber Dialogue.

Forrester Research

  • Of 20 major sites audited, 51 per cent werecompliant with simple web usability principles such as “is the site organized by user goals?” and “does a search list retrievals in order of relevance?” (in other words, the average site violated half of these simple design principles).
  • Most sites will waste between $1.5M and $2.1M on redesigns next year (1999). Why? Designers are engaged in an endless cycle of overhauls that don’t fix their problems. Their goals of achieving fast performance and consistent look and feel are directionally correct but miss out on at least 20 other more specific usability objectives. And since ease of use is not measured, flaws go undetected.

Jared Spool

  • In a study of 15 large commercial sites users could only find information 42 per cent of the time even though they were taken to the correct home page before they were given the test tasks.

JS Online

  • While internet sales continue to soar, recent surveys indicate that between 27-66% of user abandoned their shopping carts.

Jupiter research

  • Loss of approximately 50 per cent of the potential sales from the site as people can’t find stuff.
  • Losing repeat visits from 40 per cent of the users who do not return to a site when their first visit resulted in a negative experience.

Zona Research

  • 62 per cent of web shoppers gave up looking for the item they wanted to buy online (and 20 per cent had given up more than three times during a two-month period).
  • Even the most loyal internet users are having a hard time shopping online, with 28 per cent of the 239 internet savvy users reporting difficulties in finding products and services. (and 20 per cent had given up at least three different times while shopping on the web, with 39 per cent reporting they have decided either not to buy online or to do their shopping elsewhere – with catalogues and bricks and mortar stores the big winners.

Link: http://www.usabilitynet.org/management/c_cost.htm