B. Salzbrunn, D. Dolezal, R. Pucher

University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien (AUSTRIA)
The importance of usability and user centered design is increasing and software engineers are nowadays expected to be familiar with User Centered Design methods. Areas like e-Health, e-Government and last but not least the rapidly rising market of applications for mobile devices demand intensive integration of future users in the development process. Courses in engineering sciences degree programs therefore need to include user centered design but often do not have the right examples to help students understand what designing for users is really about.

Our "User Experience Database" provides this information together with new e-learning possibilities in terms of student-generated content. Whenever students themselves are being confronted with good or bad usability examples in their personal life, they can document their experiences in our university's web-based database. Key elements of a documented user experience are for example title, URL (if possible), short description and commented screenshots or pictures. Every experience is then reviewed by a lecturer or professor. They can edit text, comment the experience and give feedback on documentation quality. After the review process is finished the user experience gets published to other students. They can then browse through published items, learn from these experiences and "like" certain entries creating a social effect. Also students earn points for every item published. These points can later on be used for selected courses to achieve better grades.

Finally the student-generated findings published in the "User Experience Database" are used as state-of-the-art examples in our Usability and User Centered Design courses. Good and bad usability practices used in our courses are therefore much more "genuine" for students because they themselves encountered these challenges.