Designing with dialogue charts: a qualitative content analysis of end‐user designers' experiences with a software engineering design tool

L. J. Calloway*, G. Ariav

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Abstract. Software engineering tools used by designers are critical to most systems development methodologies, and successful methodologies are critical to improved productivity. However, the way in which designers use and relate to software engineering tools, whether computer assisted or not, has received little attention in the design literature. The purpose of this study is to gain insight into how people perceive the process of using design tools. The study is a qualitative analysis of interview information from participants in a field experiment. Four teams of student designers used various design tools during the development of interactive information systems typical of those that might be developed by sophisticated end‐users. The research reported here is an exploratory study aimed at understanding how designers use one of these tools, the dialogue charts. The broad range of purposes included the uses predicted by the reference literature on design. However, the end‐user designers also used the tool opportunistically — they found a broader range of tool usage than the literature on design tools predicted. For example, they consistently used the tool as a communications vehicle among different phases of design and development. The results show that the relationships these ‘end‐user designers’ developed with the target tool are expressed in highly emotional language. These attitudes are tightly coupled with the purposes for which the designers use the tool. The methodology uses a field experiment as a treatment and a semistructured interview with a hidden agenda for gathering data. The data analysis techniques draw on the concepts of discovering grounded theory as described by Glaser and Strauss. They further draw on the concepts of qualitative content analysis synthesized by Krippendortf and the qualitative data analysis methods described by Miles and Huberman.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-103
Number of pages29
JournalInformation Systems Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1995


  • CASE
  • dialogue design tools
  • qualitative methodology
  • system design processes


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