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Challis Hodge <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Sat, 1 Jul 2000 10:15:03 -0500
text/plain (81 lines)
Mark Hurst wrote:
i agree wholeheartedly with david, jared, and rodney's comments. this is
why in my own work, i conduct what we call "listening labs" in our client
projects... similar to usability tests, but different in an important
way: we avoid tasking the user at all costs. the *user*, not a
pre-defined script, sets the context for the listening lab. (the process
is described more in our free report, the Dotcom Survival Guide: )

websites are simply too open, too *holistic*, too customer-driven for us
to try to pin down a test's agenda beforehand. this is why usability
(which is more task-oriented) really isn't as effective on websites as a
*holistic* approach.

so given that we agree more or less on the need for a new, more holistic
usability process, what do we call it? "new usability"? "holistic
usability"? the name hardly matters -- but to distinguish it from
traditional usability, i personally call it "customer experience," since
that's what it's about -- the customer experience on the site. some
people still call it "usability," which i think is fine, too... as long
as we're not working in the same old traditional ways.

so given that i identify more with the term "customer experience" than
with "usability," AND given that i agree with jared's post about looking
more holistically at the site, i was a little taken aback by his comment:

>I personally think the current "customer experience" movement is a crock
>of shit. I think it's all a FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) campaign

my position is that we, all of us on CHI-WEB, are working towards the
same goal -- making the web easier to use -- and presumably helping each
other do so. and so i'm not sure that calling a whole section of our
community a "crock" helps to unify our efforts.


My Response:
A number of years back while still at IBM, I went through these same
discussions with our cofounder. We concluded quickly that usability was only
a small piece of the puzzle. We felt strongly that a traditional iterative
user-centered design process was a good starting point but that the
processes and methodologies that usability engineers were employing were too
narrow and rigid. We did two things that set us apart way back them and
still do today at HannaHodge.

First, we approached all of our problems from the perspective that user
experience = all points of contact between a company and the world = the
company's brand

So as we set out to solve problems on the Internet we framed them in this
context although we may or may not be influencing every point of contact,
they were all interrelated with our work. Usability is a big part user
experience on the Internet but it is definitely only a part. We still see
usability as usability and don't intend to expand it to encompass the larger

Second, we employed customized testing methodologies that combined
qualitative and quantitative techniques. We didn't throw the traditional lab
stuff out. Instead we kept it, enhanced it, combined it with other
techniques and used it where appropriate. We found early that we could gain
rich data and insight by combining many techniques and using them where

One of the biggest challenges we as a professional group face is
nomenclature and language differences. When Mark Hurst says holistic he may
well mean something different than when I say holistic. Jared Spool may well
have a different definition of usability than I. And there are certainly no
limits to the different definitions of user experience. There is no doubt in
my mind that we are all working in the same direction for the good of the
people using the stuff we're creating.


          Challis Hodge, CEO
          u s e r   e x p e r i e n c e   a r c h i t e c t s

          312.922.3600  fax 312.922.3322
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