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ACM SIGCHI WWW Human Factors (Open Discussion)


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"ACM SIGCHI WWW Human Factors (Open Discussion)" <[log in to unmask]>
Keith Instone <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 3 May 2000 16:28:44 -0400
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Keith Instone <[log in to unmask]>
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>Do you believe
>that Usability can only be tackled by independent specialists?

No, not my view at all. The previous poster said he was not happy
with the usability he got from a "design firm" (someone else's term,
not mine), so he is going to seek out:

"a company that gives more than a passing nod to customer experience"

My point was that ONE way to do this is to go to a specialist, a
company that only does what you really want.

Another, as was already proposed, is to seek out end-to-end solution
providers with the needed expertise in-house, ones that won't only
give it passing nod.

If usability matters to you, than pick your design firms based on
their proficiency at it, and not on price or ability to code
Javascript. But if you pick based on who made the prettiest demo
during the sales meetings, then you may only get a pretty site that
is unusable.

Both are good approaches, but they take a certain level of
sophistication a client, to recognize those special needs and then
evaluate who can fulfill those needs.

But my more important point, IMHO, was to push some of the
responsibility back to the owner of the project. If your project
fails with an outside company, it could be YOUR OWN DAMN FAULT.

Maybe they gave you exactly what you asked for, whether it was the
right solution for you or not. Maybe you did not have a clue what you
wanted, and they did all they could to help you decide, but it was
not enough. Maybe you told them you wanted a strong brand/cool
graphics/whatever, and then later you evaluated it on some other
terms (like usability), and it failed the test. Maybe they said "this
won't work" but you told them to build it anyway.

Maybe it was indeed their fault that the site was not usable, because
they claimed that it would be, and that their methodology would
ensure it. Maybe you told them a high percentage of users would have
to be able to accomplish a certain set of tasks without making
serious errors. Maybe you told them the most important thing was that
people could easily buy your product, but your users cannot do this
with what was delivered. Or maybe it was your own fault, since you
did not have your own usability goals, or did not let them help you
set those goals. Maybe you said: sure users can buy our products, but
the site should also be really pretty and include chat and lots of
plug-in media....

Do not automatically blame the design firm (agency, consultant, whatever).