Probes and Sensors: The Design of Feedback Loops for Usability Improvements

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingPaper in conference proceeding


The importance of user-centric design methods in the design of programming tools is now well accepted. These methods depend on creating a feedback loop between the designers and their users, providing data about developers, their needs and behaviour gathered through various means. These include controlled experiments, field observations, as well as analytical frameworks. However, whilst there have been a number of experiments detailed, quantitative data is rarely used as part of the design process. Part of the reason for this might be that such feedback loops are hard to design and use in practice. Still, we believe there is potential in this approach and opportunities in gathering this kind of ‘big data’. In this paper, we sketch a framework for reasoning about these feedback loops - when data gathering may make sense and for how to incorporate the results of such data gathering into the programming tool design process. We illustrate how to use the framework on two case studies and outline some of the challenges in instrumentation and in knowing when and how to act on signals.


External organisations
  • University of Cambridge
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of Psychology of Programming Interest Group Annual Conference 2019
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2019 Aug 28
Publication categoryResearch
EventPsychology of Programming Interest Group Annual Workshop - Newcastle, United Kingdom
Duration: 2019 Aug 282019 Aug 30
Conference number: 30


ConferencePsychology of Programming Interest Group Annual Workshop
CountryUnited Kingdom