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Definition

xenodochial

Contributor(s): Leesa Haslam

Xenodochial is an adjective describing something – such as a person, place or software application -- that is friendly to strangers. “Xenos” is a Greek word for “strangers;" according to the Oxford English Dictionary, xenodochial means "hospitable."

In agile software development, any project manager or architect must be xenodochial to be able to deal fairly and reasonably with many different stakeholders and customers. New developers and clients may be incorporated into a project, putting a high premium on the manager's ability to be friendly towards strangers. In a broader context, a xenodochial style of project management is crucial to deal effectively and appropriately with people from different cultural backgrounds and perspectives.

In user interface design, xenodochial is somewhat synonymous with the term “user-friendly.” Public terminals, kiosks and websites should convey information quickly and easily, with a minimal number of clicks or screens and be accessible to users regardless of ability level. Icons and universal symbols are both often used in well-designed interfaces, especially those that may deliver services or information to international travelers.

Operating systems like Unix that depend upon a user's foreknowledge of text commands can be fairly said not to be xenodochial. Linux distributions with a graphical user interface (GUI), by way of contrast, make that open source operating system considerably more xenodochial.

Learn More About IT:
The Agile Coach on InfoQ.com includes xenodochial on his list of A-Z agile methodologies.
David Travis included xenodochial under X in his list of usability terms.

This was last updated in June 2008

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