Cost Savings Hurts

6 Nov 2003 - 9:02pm
11 years ago
30 replies
790 reads
James M. Szuch
2003

I think that this is the crux of the issue. We know intuitively that more
usable products are better products. At least, we want to build products
that are more usable and we certainly prefer to use them. But the question
that has to be answered in any product development environment becomes: What
is the marginal value of an inrease in usabilty? If I increase the usability
of my product by some quanta, how does that translate into measurable
results -- higher revenues or lower costs. Even recognizing that what some
CEOs would consider a softer measure, like customer satisfaction, can hit
the bottom line in terms of increased customer purchases or more referrals
or a longer average customer lifespan, I think that we will have some
difficuly answering that question.

A big part of the problem is the fact that for most products, especially
digital ones, usability does not become a significant source of competitive
advantage. There are too many externalites that govern consumer behavior.
Most people don't pick a bank (my industry) because their online banking
website is easy to use. They pick one because the branches are close or the
fees are low or for some other reason. The power of usability to create
strategic advantage is greater where it is used to differentiate between
what would otherwise be commodity products. Oxo did an incredibly job of
creating such an advantage with the GoodGrips peeler among other gadgets
precisely because usability, the outcome of good interaction design, became
the compelling reason to buy. That isn't to say that usability isn't
important to the consumer. But I think that it serves less as a compelling
reason to buy and more as a compelling reason not to. In other words, poor
usability is more of a detriment than good usability is a benefit. But that
really gets us off the topic.

But the fundamental question still needs to be answered. How does usability,
as an output of the process of interaction design, improve my products along
dimensions that matter to customers and will produce a measurable increase
in the profitability of my product? That's something that I could take to my
CIO and CEO and say, "Look here! This is why interaction design is important
and should be an integral part of the development of all our digital
products."

James Szuch
Fifth Third Bank
Cincinnati OH

----- Original Message -----
From: "John O'Donovan" <jod at badhangover.net>
To: "Jay Goldman" <jgoldman at radiantcore.com>; "Bruce Tognazzini"
<tog2003 at asktog.com>
Cc: <discuss at interactiondesigners.com>
Sent: Wednesday, November 05, 2003 10:36 PM
Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] Cost Savings Hurts

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Jay Goldman" <jgoldman at radiantcore.com>
>
>
> > I agree with Tog completely - these should really be standard formulas
> > that we can go back to and use. I would love to be able to show an
> > analysis to a client that is based on industry-accepted math and that
> > can be verified by an external source. We need to avoid the trap of
> > "lies, damned lies, and statistics" (i.e.: seemingly important numbers
> > thrown at clients to make our case) and having a standard method of
> > analysis (i.e.: actually important numbers) goes a long way towards
> > that.
> >
>
> For many of the intangible benefits of using better products, it will be
> very difficult to tie this back to cold, hard cash savings, because many
of
> the benefits will not manifest themselves in ways which financial ROI will
> be able to understand or link back to the improved product.
>
> "Did the new interface improve productivity or was it the new office
> layout?"
>
> But showing greater accountability and better models for illustrating the
> impact of changes made will help. There needs to be benefit clearly
> illustrated to the point where it is irresistible - but then having been
> given a share of the project time and budget, you have to work within the
> constraints this sets.
>
> I think wider use and understanding of patterns has potential for easily
and
> quickly showing how improvements will manifest themselves and it would
also
> be nice to see wider acceptance that the success criteria for a project,
and
> the metrics used to evaluate it, cover wider measures of ROI than just
> financial ones.
>
> Something to be wary of with metrics though, is the example of software
> estimation methods. These were designed to fine tune the cost / benefit
> analysis by inputting a set of criteria and churning out an estimate of
the
> costs / effort / time required, which could then be used to fine tune the
> ROI. (see COCOMO, Function Points, etc)
>
> Though estimation methods have improved over the years, the only thing
they
> really proved without doubt, is that it is very, very, very hard to do
this
> accurately, and there is a lot to be learnt from the way Software
> Methodologies have developed to cope with this problem.
>
> Cheers,
>
> jod
>
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
http://discuss.interactiondesigners.com
> --
> Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements
already)
> http://interactiondesigners.com/announceList/
> --
> http://interactiondesigners.com/

Comments

9 Nov 2003 - 4:27am
Branimir Dolicki
2003

James M. Szuch wrote:

> A big part of the problem is the fact that for most products, especially
> digital ones, usability does not become a significant source of competitive
> advantage. There are too many externalites that govern consumer behavior.
> Most people don't pick a bank (my industry) because their online banking
> website is easy to use. They pick one because the branches are close or the
> fees are low or for some other reason. The power of usability to create
> strategic advantage is greater where it is used to differentiate between
> what would otherwise be commodity products.

But what about benefits in upselling to existing customers? Wouldn't an
improvement in usability of online banking website make it easier for
existing customers to purchase additional financial products from that
website leading to more purchases and more revenue? Also, wouldn't it
lead to less customers who run away to competitors? It should be
posible to turn those benefits into numbers.

-- Branimir

12 Nov 2003 - 8:57pm
James M. Szuch
2003

That's the point. I should be able to do this, but in practice I have not
seen it done.

Let's take customer attrition. In theory, if Company A's website is more
usable than Company B's website, customers should switch from B to A. But I
don't see that happening in practice, at least not in the case of a
non-trivial or non-commodity business. The two companies provide complex
bundles of value to their customers. Comany B might lose out in the
usability dimension of the product, but might come away as the winner in the
other dimensions that in the aggregate provide more utility to customers.

This doesn't mean that there is no value in usability. What this means is
that usability is only one aspect of a product's value proposition and in
many cases, probably too many, it is to small of an aspect to really make a
difference to the customer. I see the marginal value of usability as a curve
that increases very rapidly to an inflection point and then levels out. Now
there may be another inflection point further out that defines a truly
breakthrough product, but the vast majority of our products and our
businesses are still in the ugly middle-ground between.

james

----- Original Message -----
From: "Branimir Dolicki" <bdolicki at branimir.com>
To: "James M. Szuch" <jszuch at cinci.rr.com>
Cc: <discuss at interactiondesigners.com>
Sent: Sunday, November 09, 2003 5:27 AM
Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] Cost Savings Hurts

> James M. Szuch wrote:
>
> > A big part of the problem is the fact that for most products, especially
> > digital ones, usability does not become a significant source of
competitive
> > advantage. There are too many externalites that govern consumer
behavior.
> > Most people don't pick a bank (my industry) because their online banking
> > website is easy to use. They pick one because the branches are close or
the
> > fees are low or for some other reason. The power of usability to create
> > strategic advantage is greater where it is used to differentiate between
> > what would otherwise be commodity products.
>
> But what about benefits in upselling to existing customers? Wouldn't an
> improvement in usability of online banking website make it easier for
> existing customers to purchase additional financial products from that
> website leading to more purchases and more revenue? Also, wouldn't it
> lead to less customers who run away to competitors? It should be
> posible to turn those benefits into numbers.
>
> -- Branimir
>

30 Oct 2003 - 10:16am
Jay Goldman
2003

Livia's mention of 'cost saving' in reference to the 'Prototypes,
process, and ID' thread (see below) brought to mind a topic that I'm
often forced to wrestle with, so I thought I'd see what the group's
take is.

I've been involved in a number of projects on which Management has been
gung-ho about usability and brought me (or me and a team) in at the
beginning. We've done some great work, generally been well respected
and hailed as measurably improving the product, and then been the first
to go when the Budget Axe falls. Two questions:

- Why is our domain considered indispensable when there's money, but
dispensable as soon as there isn't? I often fall back on the 'house
building' analogy: while you can't build a house without the builders,
you're hopeless if you fire the architects.

- Aside from quoting numbers from 'Cost Justifying Usability' (by
Deborah Mayhew - a must have for those who don't), what can we do about
this? You generally aren't given a platform to argue the cut after the
fact, so what can we do as preventative measures to show our worth
before the hard decisions have to be made?

Jay

On Thursday, October 30, 2003, at 04:40 AM, Livia Labate wrote:

> : "Data indicate that 60-80% of the cost of software
> : development is rework--that is, fixing defects that
> : are found during testing.* While software must still
> : be tested, testing and rework costs would be reduced
> : if better design and implementation practices were used"
>
> Fixing defects that are found during testing... if there really was
> testing
> then it's already a significant and important design practice. As John
> said,
> the software industry is used to testing, it's part of the process.
> But not
> all Web practitioners consider testing vital and, thought appalling,
> some
> projects cut-out testing before other things in defense of 'cost
> saving'.
> The most counter-productive decision possible in my opinion...
>
> There is also a significant difference between rework because of test
> results and rework because of mistakes after implementation. To test
> and
> modify/improve is iteration; to release a product and create patches
> to fix
> bugs is bad design.
>
> Livia Labate
> liv at livlab.com | http://livlab.com | http://aifia.org
>
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> to unsubscribe: discuss-unsubscribe at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements
> already)
> http://interactiondesigners.com/announceList/
> --
> http://interactiondesigners.com/
>
>

------
Jay Goldman, President
Radiant Core: Design + Develop + Interact
t: 416.941.1551 f: 416.941.9316 c: 416.704.4283

30 Oct 2003 - 11:03am
Dan Saffer
2003

On Thursday, October 30, 2003, at 11:16 AM, Jay Goldman wrote:
>
> - Why is our domain considered indispensable when there's money, but
> dispensable as soon as there isn't? [And] what can we do about this?

Aside from the education/mentoring/techniques/job leads etc. value that
this group provides, answering these questions and then setting out on
courses of action should be one of our core goals.

Personally, I think the answer lies in a combination of a few things:

1) Having more executive officers (CCOs, Creative Directors, VPs) that
can advocate for us at the highest levels of management. People who
know what we do and what value we bring. Some of these people will come
from our ranks, some will have a different backgrounds. What is
important is being able to sit at the Big Table so that when Big
Decisions get made, they can champion us.

2) More awareness of what we do in general, from a grassroots level.
More of us need to get jobs at influential companies where the value of
our work becomes known by the team members around us. These team
members will eventually rise up to management and executive levels,
spreading awareness to middle management and executive management a la
#1.

3) We need to get jobs where our job titles more accurately reflect
what we do. Even if this narrowed down to two or three titles it would
be better than it is now.

4) Stars. We need our Jakob Nielsens who speak, publish, hold
conferences, etc. that businesses (and arguably the general public)
know about. These people shouldn't just preach to the choir: they speak
to businesses and lay people directly. Alan Cooper made a lot of
inroads with The Inmates are Running The Asylum. We need more of that.

5) Research. Raw numbers and the bottom line always help.

6) Case studies. Concept pre-design, concept post-design. 'Nuff said.

There's probably a bunch more of these too. But these to me seem
formidable enough already. :)

Dan

Dan Saffer
M.Des. Candidate, Interaction Design
Carnegie Mellon University
http://www.odannyboy.com

30 Oct 2003 - 11:39am
Jay Goldman
2003

I think Dan et. al. are heading down the right path. The first step is
to organize ourselves, which we are now doing. Let's keep this ball
rolling and not lose it off the side of the path like so many previous
efforts.

This reminds me, in a way, of the Professional Engineer associations.
For those who live outside of Ontario (the Canadian province in which
Toronto is located) - the Professional Engineers of Ontario (PEO) is
the standards body that oversees all engineering domains in the
province. They have a very rigorous set of admission requirements
(including an ethics exam), and people are legally forbidden from
referring to themselves as engineers in the same way that it is illegal
to impersonate a doctor or a lawyer. The PEO has, in recent years, gone
after a number of people who called themselves Software Engineers and
taken them to court over the name - and won. Upon graduation, engineers
in Ontario are given an iron ring to wear on the pinkie finger of their
writing hand in a ceremony written by Rudyard Kipling. The ring is
symbolic of the obligations and responsibilities of engineers and is,
or so the story goes, taken from the iron of a bridge that collapsed as
a result of poor engineering. More info here: http://www.ironring.ca/.

We need a body like the PEO - a guild or 'union' - that can act as a
standards body and that can both certify practitioners and take on
impostors. An iron ring is, perhaps, a little drastic though it does
serve the purpose of making professional engineers in Ontario
immediately recognizable.

Jay

------
Jay Goldman, President
Radiant Core: Design + Develop + Interact
t: 416.941.1551 f: 416.941.9316 c: 416.704.4283

On Thursday, October 30, 2003, at 12:03 PM, Dan Saffer wrote:

>
> On Thursday, October 30, 2003, at 11:16 AM, Jay Goldman wrote:
>>
>> - Why is our domain considered indispensable when there's money, but
>> dispensable as soon as there isn't? [And] what can we do about this?
>
> Aside from the education/mentoring/techniques/job leads etc. value
> that this group provides, answering these questions and then setting
> out on courses of action should be one of our core goals.
>
> Personally, I think the answer lies in a combination of a few things:
>
> 1) Having more executive officers (CCOs, Creative Directors, VPs) that
> can advocate for us at the highest levels of management. People who
> know what we do and what value we bring. Some of these people will
> come from our ranks, some will have a different backgrounds. What is
> important is being able to sit at the Big Table so that when Big
> Decisions get made, they can champion us.
>
> 2) More awareness of what we do in general, from a grassroots level.
> More of us need to get jobs at influential companies where the value
> of our work becomes known by the team members around us. These team
> members will eventually rise up to management and executive levels,
> spreading awareness to middle management and executive management a la
> #1.
>
> 3) We need to get jobs where our job titles more accurately reflect
> what we do. Even if this narrowed down to two or three titles it would
> be better than it is now.
>
> 4) Stars. We need our Jakob Nielsens who speak, publish, hold
> conferences, etc. that businesses (and arguably the general public)
> know about. These people shouldn't just preach to the choir: they
> speak to businesses and lay people directly. Alan Cooper made a lot of
> inroads with The Inmates are Running The Asylum. We need more of that.
>
> 5) Research. Raw numbers and the bottom line always help.
>
> 6) Case studies. Concept pre-design, concept post-design. 'Nuff said.
>
>
> There's probably a bunch more of these too. But these to me seem
> formidable enough already. :)
>
>
> Dan
>
>
>
> Dan Saffer
> M.Des. Candidate, Interaction Design
> Carnegie Mellon University
> http://www.odannyboy.com

30 Oct 2003 - 10:35am
vutpakdi
2003

--- Jay Goldman <jgoldman at radiantcore.com> wrote:
> - Why is our domain considered indispensable when there's money, but
> dispensable as soon as there isn't? I often fall back on the 'house
> building' analogy: while you can't build a house without the builders,
> you're hopeless if you fire the architects.

Two points. First, many people (programmers, managers, domain experts)
believe that they can do design or usability well (when they can't).
Second, as you said, the company still has *something* to ship if they dump
everyone but the programmers. If they dump the programmers but keep
everyone else, then they have *nothing* to ship.

Ron

=====
============================================================================
Ron Vutpakdi
vutpakdi at acm.org

__________________________________
Do you Yahoo!?
Exclusive Video Premiere - Britney Spears
http://launch.yahoo.com/promos/britneyspears/

30 Oct 2003 - 11:32am
Becubed
2004

> - Why is our domain considered indispensable when there's money, but
> dispensable as soon as there isn't? I often fall back on the 'house
> building' analogy: while you can't build a house without the builders,
> you're hopeless if you fire the architects.

You may be hopeless . . . but you still get the house.

There's an important clue in this analogy. Our work as interaction
architects *assists* with the building of products -- but we don't build the
product directly from raw materials, so to speak. Software engineers do.

If you have to ship a product, you'd better not get rid of the people who
actually build it, or you'll have nothing to ship. So what's that leave?
Well, folks like us, unfortunately.

It's perhaps encouraging (in a strangely sad way), to note that building
architects suffer from the same problems. A couple years ago, I worked on a
project targeted at architects in which my client invested in a full UCD
process including contextual inquiry and personas. Guess what we learned?

Architects are involved in less than 5% of all building projects -- and this
bothers them to no end. Increasingly, project owners ask their contractors
to design the structure as well as build it. This results, of course, in
structures that are considerably inferior to what an architect would have
designed . . . But that's not important to the project owner. What matters
is that the building is built at all, and that someone buys it. And someone
always does.

Sound familiar?

--
Robert Barlow-Busch
Interaction Design Group
Quarry Integrated Communications Inc.
rbarlowbusch at quarry.com

30 Oct 2003 - 1:26pm
FelcanSmith, Mark
2004

> It's perhaps encouraging (in a strangely sad way), to note
that building
> architects suffer from the same problems.

Not to nit pick, but I don't find this encouraging in the very
least. I find little comfort in knowing another profession
suffer's the same fate as ours at times. I would be more
encouraged if I knew what actions those architects have taken to
correct their situations. How do they build value upfront so
that when these situations come up, those making the BIG
decisions will not, by default, look towards them when the axe
falls.

-mfs

30 Oct 2003 - 2:49pm
kathyp
2003

On Thursday, October 30, 2003, at 08:16 AM, Jay Goldman wrote:

> - Why is our domain considered indispensable when there's money, but
> dispensable as soon as there isn't? I often fall back on the 'house
> building' analogy: while you can't build a house without the builders,
> you're hopeless if you fire the architects.
>
> - Aside from quoting numbers from 'Cost Justifying Usability' (by
> Deborah Mayhew - a must have for those who don't), what can we do
> about this? You generally aren't given a platform to argue the cut
> after the fact, so what can we do as preventative measures to show our
> worth before the hard decisions have to be made?

I would question the statement that our domain is considered
"indispensable," even when there is money. I haven't seen all that much
evidence to support this opinion with regard to the hiring and
retention of interaction architects/designers.

At the same time, I do believe that the tasks of our domain always do
occur, whether done explicitly (and well) by specialist practitioners
such as ourselves, or implicitly (and poorly) by those building the
product/application/system. Every system has a design (and some even
have many designs) and every system is evaluated at some point (unless
no one ever uses it). So, the question can be asked of our clients and
employers: Do you want a good design that you will know meets its
objectives before it ships, or do you just want something built that
will be evaluated in the marketplace? It's a fair question and the
answer will depend on the circumstances.

As for what we can do about becoming less dispensable as practitioners,
I think we can make ourselves and our methods more cost-effective,
especially when money is tight. How many design-test iterations are
really necessary? How much value does user-testing actually add, as
opposed to more cost-effective means of generating design input or
determining whether a design meets its users' (and other) objectives?
I'm probably speaking blasphemy in this forum, but user-testing in my
opinion is one of the most expensive and time-consuming methods for
evaluating a design or artifact. Perhaps the value of the results is
worth the expense in some cases, but I question whether that expense is
*always* justified.

In my over 20 years of experience designing and evaluating software
applications, I have more often than not been able to come up with a
more cost-effective way to resolve design questions when someone has
asked me to conduct a usability study. Granted, there have also been
times when a usability study was the best approach, but I do not see it
as a substitute for good design. (Note that my Ph.D. is in
Experimental/Engineering Psychology, so I've been trained plenty about
there being no substitute for user research.)

Take, for example, the Techtionary web site that David Heller posted
about yesterday. It doesn't take a usability study to determine just
how completely awful and un-usable that design is. Most any of us could
probably provide a 100-fold improvement in its usability just by
stumbling around in the dark without any user data. How much
incremental improvement would user research provide in such a case? In
my opinion, probably not sufficient to justify the cost, given the
simplicity of this site's functionality. (Of course, I am assuming that
the application had some sort of usability objective. I definitely have
to question that assumption, though, because in looking at its current
design, I couldn't find any evidence for it.)

Another thing we as a profession can do is improve our collective skill
level--so that our design results are better and require fewer
evaluation cycles and the evaluation work we do is of higher quality
and less cost. How many of us actually have formal education or
training in our field(s) of practice? What qualifications do
interaction architects/designers need to have? What programs are
available to obtain those qualifications? How does one become a good
interaction architect/designer? These are questions I think this group
can address.

- Kathy

Kathy Potosnak, Ph.D.
Principal Consultant
Interface Concepts
(360) 297-2500

kathyp at interfaceconcepts.com
http://www.interfaceconcepts.com

31 Oct 2003 - 10:08am
GK VanPatter
2003

Dan & All: I took note of your suggestion 1 which you describe as ³Having
more executive officers (CCOs, Creative Directors, VPs)Šable to sit at the
Big Table so that when Big Decisions get made, they can champion us.²

In our research we continue to see similar expressions across many specialty
design communities. I assume you know that your suggestion connects to the
important subject of design leadership that reaches far beyond the focus of
this particular community.

Today the kinds of skills needed to operate at strategic levels, on projects
and in organizations are quite different from those needed on the tactical
side of the design equation. I would encourage this community to keep this
in mind as you enhance your approach to the market and rethink what it means
to be an ³interaction designer² today. In doing so it is important to
understand the dynamics acting on the design industries on both fronts:
strategic and tactical. Those dynamics inevitably will impact this community
as well.

Without a substantial rethink of what it means to be a design leader, all of
the well intended tactical discussions will do little to change the
unfolding trajectory of designs¹ destiny. It is a trajectory that is already
well under way in the marketplace today. The good news is there is a lot of
opportunity for ³interaction design² to reinvent itself in ways that connect
to the future of design and design leadership rather than squabbling over a
terrain that is already history.

Hope this helps.

gk
...

GK VanPatter
Co-Founder
NextDesign Leadership Institute
New York

NextD
Who will lead design in the 21st century?
http://nextd.org
...

> From: Dan Saffer <dan at odannyboy.com>
> Date: Thu, 30 Oct 2003 12:03:59 -0500
> To: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
> Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] Cost Savings Hurts
>
>
> On Thursday, October 30, 2003, at 11:16 AM, Jay Goldman wrote:
>>
>> - Why is our domain considered indispensable when there's money, but
>> dispensable as soon as there isn't? [And] what can we do about this?
>
> Aside from the education/mentoring/techniques/job leads etc. value that
> this group provides, answering these questions and then setting out on
> courses of action should be one of our core goals.
>
> Personally, I think the answer lies in a combination of a few things:
>
> 1) Having more executive officers (CCOs, Creative Directors, VPs) that
> can advocate for us at the highest levels of management. People who
> know what we do and what value we bring. Some of these people will come
> from our ranks, some will have a different backgrounds. What is
> important is being able to sit at the Big Table so that when Big
> Decisions get made, they can champion us.
>
> 2) More awareness of what we do in general, from a grassroots level.
> More of us need to get jobs at influential companies where the value of
> our work becomes known by the team members around us. These team
> members will eventually rise up to management and executive levels,
> spreading awareness to middle management and executive management a la
> #1.
>
> 3) We need to get jobs where our job titles more accurately reflect
> what we do. Even if this narrowed down to two or three titles it would
> be better than it is now.
>
> 4) Stars. We need our Jakob Nielsens who speak, publish, hold
> conferences, etc. that businesses (and arguably the general public)
> know about. These people shouldn't just preach to the choir: they speak
> to businesses and lay people directly. Alan Cooper made a lot of
> inroads with The Inmates are Running The Asylum. We need more of that.
>
> 5) Research. Raw numbers and the bottom line always help.
>
> 6) Case studies. Concept pre-design, concept post-design. 'Nuff said.
>
>
> There's probably a bunch more of these too. But these to me seem
> formidable enough already. :)
>
>
> Dan
>
>
>
> Dan Saffer
> M.Des. Candidate, Interaction Design
> Carnegie Mellon University
> http://www.odannyboy.com
>
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> to unsubscribe: discuss-unsubscribe at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements already)
> http://interactiondesigners.com/announceList/
> --
> http://interactiondesigners.com/

31 Oct 2003 - 10:30am
vutpakdi
2003

--- GK VanPatter <gvanpatter at nextd.org> wrote:
> Dan & All: I took note of your suggestion 1 which you describe as ³Having
> more executive officers (CCOs, Creative Directors, VPs)Šable to sit at
> the
> Big Table so that when Big Decisions get made, they can champion us.²

I've found that it's beneficial to have won over high level folks *and* the
lower level folks who will actually be doing the work. Winning the high
level folks is important since that usually determines if you get on the
team (and funding), but unless you win over the lower level folks actually
doing the work, your beautiful design won't be implemented or won't be
implemented properly. Then, the higher ups think that either you aren't
doing your job or including you is a waste of time/resources.

Some of my current success is due to the fact that I've won over a dev lead
and a few lower level program managers by delivering what they ask for
quickly and pleasantly. My designs don't always get implemented exactly,
but the dev lead has come to trust me and almost always asks for my input
on UIs.

Ron

=====
============================================================================
Ron Vutpakdi
vutpakdi at acm.org

__________________________________
Do you Yahoo!?
Exclusive Video Premiere - Britney Spears
http://launch.yahoo.com/promos/britneyspears/

31 Oct 2003 - 10:45am
whitneyq
2010

At 08:30 AM 10/31/2003 -0800, Ron Vutpakdi wrote:
>I've found that it's beneficial to have won over high level folks *and* the
>lower level folks who will actually be doing the work. <snip>
>Some of my current success is due to the fact that I've won over a dev lead
>and a few lower level program managers by delivering what they ask for
>quickly and pleasantly.

I've had very similar experiences.

The point about being "user-centered" in taking the time/attention to
understand what your colleagues need is a good one -- and too infrequently
heeded.

I find that the most difficult "layer" to win over are the product/project
managers - they tend to have very aggressive time and costs targets, lots
of people wanting things and limited resources. Anything that sounds new,
untried or even different smells like danger to them.

This is, of course, only a generalization. Even as I write this, I can
think of several wonderful people I have worked with who have gone out on a
limb to organize a project to allow for UCD.

Perhaps one of the variables is whether how much freedom/authority the
leaders have within their own area. Someone who is at a very low corporate
level might have a great deal of autonomy within his/her project, while
someone much higher up may have less, or be under other pressures that
would discourage process innovation.

Whitney Quesenbery
Whitney Interactive Design, LLC
w. www.WQusability.com
e. whitneyq at wqusability.com
p. 908-638-5467

UPA - www.usabilityprofessionals.org
STC Usability SIG: www.stcsig.org/usability

31 Oct 2003 - 11:34am
Vince Frantz
2003

>
> I've found that it's beneficial to have won over high level folks
> *and* the
> lower level folks who will actually be doing the work. Winning the
> high
> level folks is important since that usually determines if you get on
> the
> team (and funding), but unless you win over the lower level folks
> actually
> doing the work, your beautiful design won't be implemented or won't be
> implemented properly. Then, the higher ups think that either you
> aren't
> doing your job or including you is a waste of time/resources.
>

Winning over the dev team has worked well for me. Showing them that
using an information designer has huge benefits for their work (and
their lives, I might add) has helped presenting a "unified front" to
the senior level folks. As it was noted in an earlier post, there is a
drive to "just start building it" and then use testing phases to work
out bugs. I explain to the developers that I/we impose no
technical/graphic limitations and instead present a well documented
"challenge" for them to solve. You do your part - I do mine. You don't
have to worry about the "boring stuff" and can spend more time working
on ideas that will most likely be implemented. All this and they can
still put their name on it*

Depending on the size/roll of the team, there is also the client
management side that they don't have to deal with as much (No calls
during dinner). Every freelance designer/developer I have worked with
brings me into his/her projects now. I have had them refer potential
work to me as in "here is a good client.. they look very disorganized..
maybe you can help them get a build-able solution.. then call me to
build it."

In the case of internal dev teams, I make sure they are at the very
first meeting and try to go to bat for them so they know that I am
basically on their side. It gives me a chance to see how they interact
with the project lead and sort of sets the stage for what comes next. I
generally run the documents by the dev guys before sending them to the
project lead.

Either way, there is some intense interpersonal skills involved. I
essentially have two different "sales" pitches when confronted with
each new client/dev guy. One that focuses on the dev needs/advantages
and one that focuses on the client needs/advantages. You pretty much
need a tactic for both we are ever to be "guaranteed" a place at the
table.

- vince

* My father was a tower crane operator and liked to point out to me the
huge buildings he "built"

31 Oct 2003 - 12:05pm
Lyle_Kantrovich...
2004

First, let me say that I feel your pain. As someone trying to champion
UCD, I am constantly challenged to do things cheaper and faster and
fight for a share of budgets and project time. People don't always
understand what we do or the value we add.

BUT, I'd like to challenge this group a bit. It's one thing to say that
companies should invest more $$ and time into creating better products
via design resources and good practices, but do we really understand the
company's perspective? Do we empathize with budget owners? Sometimes
we can sound a bit like spoiled kids crying that we don't have enough
toys.

When do we reach the point when something is "good enough?"

How much is enough budget or time?

We have to sit side by side with project managers and budget owners and
help them find ways to make the best of what they're given.

I recently helped a team cut almost a third out of a very sizable
project estimate. Most of the cuts were in "user experience"
activities. Were the things cut good things to do? Absolutely - if
money was unlimited. When we sat down to start "whittling" away (with a
machete), I advocated that we "right-size" activities rather that cut
whole things out. For example, reducing the scope and formality of
early prototype testing. We focused on the areas where the most risk
existed, keeping UCD activities in place as much as possible. The
result was huge: the project could go forward (!), project sponsors
retained faith in the team, and UCD didn't get lost in the cuts - just
focused where it's most critical. If I hadn't been involved, UCD would
have suffered greatly, or the project would have been at risk of getting
cancelled.

So rather than crying for more money, sometimes we have to realize that
the real-world involves difficult choices. The best we can hope for is
to have a place at the table, and a pragmatic approach. Holding out for
more money and the "ideal" approach is just not acceptable.

Try to help people do the best with what they have - not just "do the
best."

Reality: quality is a reasonable trade-off sometimes.

Try imagining it's your budget and figure out how you'd allocate it
before you argue that your role/activities are the most important.
Don't expect others to compromise if you won't.

Regards,

Lyle

----
Croc O' Lyle - Personal Commentary on usability, information
architecture and design.
http://crocolyle.blogspot.com/

-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: BDY.RTF
Type: application/rtf
Size: 2856 bytes
Desc: not available
Url : http://lists.interactiondesigners.com/pipermail/discuss-interactiondesigners.com/attachments/20031031/125b9e70/attachment.rtf

31 Oct 2003 - 12:38pm
Dan Saffer
2003

On Friday, October 31, 2003, at 11:30 AM, Ron Vutpakdi wrote:
>
> I've found that it's beneficial to have won over high level folks
> *and* the
> lower level folks who will actually be doing the work.

I was never suggesting otherwise. The people below management are the
people who are our colleagues and will make our designs live. And those
people also rise up to become management, eventually. By then, we'll
have converted them. :)

At the same time, we need the people to approve the money for our
services, hire us, and justify our expense to upper management.
Marketing has this. Technology has this. We should too.

Dan

31 Oct 2003 - 3:49pm
vutpakdi
2003

--- Whitney Quesenbery <wq at sufficiently.com> wrote:
> I find that the most difficult "layer" to win over are the
> product/project
> managers - they tend to have very aggressive time and costs targets, lots
> of people wanting things and limited resources. Anything that sounds new,
> untried or even different smells like danger to them.

We have program (aka project) managers in charge of getting the product out
and product managers who are in charge of determining what goes into the
product and how to sell/market it.

I've had mixed results winning over the program managers. Success has
mostly been tied to delivering what was needed and working within their
constraints as much as possible. An early success for me was turning a
prototype into a medium for exploring and grappling with requirements first
(and a design model second).

Winning over the product managers has been a toss up too. Many times, they
pay lip service to usability ("oh yes, make it easy to use."), but when
push comes to shove, the usually pick the functionality points over any
usability work. On the other hand, some really do care.

In the end, for both, it comes down to personalities and the situation that
they find themselves in. As you stated, if they have room to maneuver and
an open mind, then we have more of a chance.

Ron

=====
============================================================================
Ron Vutpakdi
vutpakdi at acm.org

__________________________________
Do you Yahoo!?
Exclusive Video Premiere - Britney Spears
http://launch.yahoo.com/promos/britneyspears/

3 Nov 2003 - 9:46am
Janet M. Six
2003

Well said! I'm guessing that most of us already do this, but we need
to make sure that the business community knows that we can do this.

Regards,
Janet Six
Lone Star Interface Design

Lyle_Kantrovich at cargill.com wrote:

>First, let me say that I feel your pain. As someone trying to champion
>UCD, I am constantly challenged to do things cheaper and faster and
>fight for a share of budgets and project time. People don't always
>understand what we do or the value we add.
>
>BUT, I'd like to challenge this group a bit. It's one thing to say that
>companies should invest more $$ and time into creating better products
>via design resources and good practices, but do we really understand the
>company's perspective? Do we empathize with budget owners? Sometimes
>we can sound a bit like spoiled kids crying that we don't have enough
>toys.
>
>When do we reach the point when something is "good enough?"
>
>How much is enough budget or time?
>
>We have to sit side by side with project managers and budget owners and
>help them find ways to make the best of what they're given.
>
>I recently helped a team cut almost a third out of a very sizable
>project estimate. Most of the cuts were in "user experience"
>activities. Were the things cut good things to do? Absolutely - if
>money was unlimited. When we sat down to start "whittling" away (with a
>machete), I advocated that we "right-size" activities rather that cut
>whole things out. For example, reducing the scope and formality of
>early prototype testing. We focused on the areas where the most risk
>existed, keeping UCD activities in place as much as possible. The
>result was huge: the project could go forward (!), project sponsors
>retained faith in the team, and UCD didn't get lost in the cuts - just
>focused where it's most critical. If I hadn't been involved, UCD would
>have suffered greatly, or the project would have been at risk of getting
>cancelled.
>
>So rather than crying for more money, sometimes we have to realize that
>the real-world involves difficult choices. The best we can hope for is
>to have a place at the table, and a pragmatic approach. Holding out for
>more money and the "ideal" approach is just not acceptable.
>
>Try to help people do the best with what they have - not just "do the
>best."
>
>Reality: quality is a reasonable trade-off sometimes.
>
>Try imagining it's your budget and figure out how you'd allocate it
>before you argue that your role/activities are the most important.
>Don't expect others to compromise if you won't.
>
>Regards,
>
>Lyle
>
>----
>Croc O' Lyle - Personal Commentary on usability, information
>architecture and design.
>http://crocolyle.blogspot.com/
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
>_______________________________________________
>Interaction Design Discussion List
>discuss at interactiondesigners.com
>--
>to unsubscribe: discuss-unsubscribe at interactiondesigners.com
>--
>Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
>--
>Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements already)
>http://interactiondesigners.com/announceList/
>--
>http://interactiondesigners.com/
>

3 Nov 2003 - 1:27pm
ralph lord
2004

What a great thread! Actually, I may be mixing threads
here.

We also use the architect analogy for a couple of
reasons but mostly to try and explain to our internal
team and external clients just where this crazy thing
called interaction design fits in. However, we also
stress the value of the early "sketch" or "elevation"
or "mockup" in bringing more stability to the
requirements. In fact, some of our success internally
has been based on the clearer requirements we've been
able to deliver for the analysts.

Another success has been with the dev team by giving
them more completely designed screens and interactions
so that, as someone else said, they can focus on the
fun stuff.

BTW, the AIA (American Inst of Architects) has for the
last couple of years been running a marketing campaign
to tout the benefits of involving an architect and not
just relying on the builders or contractors.
http://www.aia.org/consumer/overview.asp

Our opinion of the business reality is simply that are
many who will never, no, never see the value we bring
and that they just aren't going to be our customers.

And as Whitney and Ron have discussed, the "real"
problem of aligning people-biz-tech is just too gooey
of a problem to interest the development team (in
general). We characterize this as the dev team's
inherent interest in more quantitative matters. Our
value, as we perceive it, is to bring some expertise
to the more qualitative issues. So, we're back to the
architect who bridges this gap and speaks in language
and brings value to both sides.

RL

__________________________________
Do you Yahoo!?
Exclusive Video Premiere - Britney Spears
http://launch.yahoo.com/promos/britneyspears/

3 Nov 2003 - 9:44pm
Bruce Tognazzini
2003

We also need to learn how to translate, "but it ought to be really
easy to use!" into dollars and cents.

If the software is destined for our own company, such as an intranet,
we must gather hard data on potential increases in productivity, then
translate them into hours saved, then finally into dollars saved.
(Figure salary + 2X salary for overhead).

If destined to be shipped, we need to get data on how much was wasted
on an engineering team working in panic mode after an earlier,
low-quality, release. Then add the cost of customer support
supporting defective software/design. We need to also present this
in dollars and cents.

Finally, we must look at how much time is wasted in reworking
finished code as problems arise, due to lack of prototyping and
testing. This needs to be translated into dollars and cents, as well
as schedule slippage.

We also need to clean our own house. If the last time we pulled down
a videotape to review a study was 1997, I guess we're wasting a lot
of money videotaping. I still firmly believe that, except when
testing very subtle differences in an otherwise effective and mature
interface, bare-bones testing with fast turn-around is not only
cheapest, but most effective.

-tog

> Well said! I'm guessing that most of us already do this, but we
>need to make sure that the business community knows that we can do
>this.
>
>Regards,
>Janet Six
>Lone Star Interface Design
>
>
>Lyle_Kantrovich at cargill.com wrote:
>
>>First, let me say that I feel your pain. As someone trying to champion
>>UCD, I am constantly challenged to do things cheaper and faster and
>>fight for a share of budgets and project time. People don't always
>>understand what we do or the value we add.
>>
>>BUT, I'd like to challenge this group a bit. It's one thing to say that
>>companies should invest more $$ and time into creating better products
>>via design resources and good practices, but do we really understand the
>>company's perspective? Do we empathize with budget owners? Sometimes
>>we can sound a bit like spoiled kids crying that we don't have enough
>>toys.
>>
>>When do we reach the point when something is "good enough?"
>>How much is enough budget or time?
>>
>>We have to sit side by side with project managers and budget owners and
>>help them find ways to make the best of what they're given.
>>I recently helped a team cut almost a third out of a very sizable
>>project estimate. Most of the cuts were in "user experience"
>>activities. Were the things cut good things to do? Absolutely - if
>>money was unlimited. When we sat down to start "whittling" away (with a
>>machete), I advocated that we "right-size" activities rather that cut
>>whole things out. For example, reducing the scope and formality of
>>early prototype testing. We focused on the areas where the most risk
>>existed, keeping UCD activities in place as much as possible. The
>>result was huge: the project could go forward (!), project sponsors
>>retained faith in the team, and UCD didn't get lost in the cuts - just
>>focused where it's most critical. If I hadn't been involved, UCD would
>>have suffered greatly, or the project would have been at risk of getting
>>cancelled.
>>
>>So rather than crying for more money, sometimes we have to realize that
>>the real-world involves difficult choices. The best we can hope for is
>>to have a place at the table, and a pragmatic approach. Holding out for
>>more money and the "ideal" approach is just not acceptable.
>>
>>Try to help people do the best with what they have - not just "do the
>>best."
>>
>>Reality: quality is a reasonable trade-off sometimes.
>>Try imagining it's your budget and figure out how you'd allocate it
>>before you argue that your role/activities are the most important.
>>Don't expect others to compromise if you won't.
>>
>>Regards,
>>
>>Lyle
>>
>>----
>>Croc O' Lyle - Personal Commentary on usability, information
>>architecture and design.
>>http://crocolyle.blogspot.com/
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>
>>_______________________________________________
>>Interaction Design Discussion List
>>discuss at interactiondesigners.com
>>--
>>to unsubscribe: discuss-unsubscribe at interactiondesigners.com
>>--
>>Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
>>--
>>Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements already)
>>http://interactiondesigners.com/announceList/
>>--
>>http://interactiondesigners.com/
>>
>
>
>
>_______________________________________________
>Interaction Design Discussion List
>discuss at interactiondesigners.com
>--
>to unsubscribe: discuss-unsubscribe at interactiondesigners.com
>--
>Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
>--
>Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements already)
>http://interactiondesigners.com/announceList/
>--
>http://interactiondesigners.com/

--
Bruce Tognazzini
Nielsen Norman Group
2 Medway Rd.
Woodside, CA 94062

http://www.asktog.com

4 Nov 2003 - 8:01am
Arjan Haring
2003

What do you think about the following:

CCO's don't think in terms of usability. Their main concern is:

Turning the company in a Customer driven (directed/oriented/steered/centered) company. Away from traditional inside/out thinking and a product/organisation oriented company. They are aware incapable (sometimes it's more constructive to say that they are unaware capable, as if they only produce success stories), but the resulting action will be the same, work according proven methodology to guarantee success in the future.

Usability doesn't fit in here, or does it?

I think User/Customer Centered Design could be a nice way to bridge the gap between the product oriented and the customer driven company (it's a first step). But we have to merge with (mature) marketing research techniques.

The CCO is confronted with a lot of marketing 'professionals' that don't know what their doing, don't educate themselves with new techniques and try to fill the gap with their gut instinct. Resulting in 80 % failure.

Don't give the CCO any crap about usability, but give him what he wants; practical and pragmatic controls for directing the company to the promised land (his/her long term target). And another suggestion, hot air is still the main ingredient for getting things done. Bluff your way in to a project by focussing on your knowledge of what the customer will desire. This is the closest thing to marketing that we've got.

Regards,

Arjan Haring
Mid Office - Research
AXA Netherlands

-----Oorspronkelijk bericht-----
Van: Bruce Tognazzini [mailto:tog2003 at asktog.com]
Verzonden: dinsdag 4 november 2003 4:44
Aan: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Onderwerp: Re: [ID Discuss] Cost Savings Hurts

We also need to learn how to translate, "but it ought to be really
easy to use!" into dollars and cents.

If the software is destined for our own company, such as an intranet,
we must gather hard data on potential increases in productivity, then
translate them into hours saved, then finally into dollars saved.
(Figure salary + 2X salary for overhead).

If destined to be shipped, we need to get data on how much was wasted
on an engineering team working in panic mode after an earlier,
low-quality, release. Then add the cost of customer support
supporting defective software/design. We need to also present this
in dollars and cents.

Finally, we must look at how much time is wasted in reworking
finished code as problems arise, due to lack of prototyping and
testing. This needs to be translated into dollars and cents, as well
as schedule slippage.

We also need to clean our own house. If the last time we pulled down
a videotape to review a study was 1997, I guess we're wasting a lot
of money videotaping. I still firmly believe that, except when
testing very subtle differences in an otherwise effective and mature
interface, bare-bones testing with fast turn-around is not only
cheapest, but most effective.

-tog

> Well said! I'm guessing that most of us already do this, but we
>need to make sure that the business community knows that we can do
>this.
>
>Regards,
>Janet Six
>Lone Star Interface Design
>
>
>Lyle_Kantrovich at cargill.com wrote:
>
>>First, let me say that I feel your pain. As someone trying to champion
>>UCD, I am constantly challenged to do things cheaper and faster and
>>fight for a share of budgets and project time. People don't always
>>understand what we do or the value we add.
>>
>>BUT, I'd like to challenge this group a bit. It's one thing to say that
>>companies should invest more $$ and time into creating better products
>>via design resources and good practices, but do we really understand the
>>company's perspective? Do we empathize with budget owners? Sometimes
>>we can sound a bit like spoiled kids crying that we don't have enough
>>toys.
>>
>>When do we reach the point when something is "good enough?"
>>How much is enough budget or time?
>>
>>We have to sit side by side with project managers and budget owners and
>>help them find ways to make the best of what they're given.
>>I recently helped a team cut almost a third out of a very sizable
>>project estimate. Most of the cuts were in "user experience"
>>activities. Were the things cut good things to do? Absolutely - if
>>money was unlimited. When we sat down to start "whittling" away (with a
>>machete), I advocated that we "right-size" activities rather that cut
>>whole things out. For example, reducing the scope and formality of
>>early prototype testing. We focused on the areas where the most risk
>>existed, keeping UCD activities in place as much as possible. The
>>result was huge: the project could go forward (!), project sponsors
>>retained faith in the team, and UCD didn't get lost in the cuts - just
>>focused where it's most critical. If I hadn't been involved, UCD would
>>have suffered greatly, or the project would have been at risk of getting
>>cancelled.
>>
>>So rather than crying for more money, sometimes we have to realize that
>>the real-world involves difficult choices. The best we can hope for is
>>to have a place at the table, and a pragmatic approach. Holding out for
>>more money and the "ideal" approach is just not acceptable.
>>
>>Try to help people do the best with what they have - not just "do the
>>best."
>>
>>Reality: quality is a reasonable trade-off sometimes.
>>Try imagining it's your budget and figure out how you'd allocate it
>>before you argue that your role/activities are the most important.
>>Don't expect others to compromise if you won't.
>>
>>Regards,
>>
>>Lyle
>>
>>----
>>Croc O' Lyle - Personal Commentary on usability, information
>>architecture and design.
>>http://crocolyle.blogspot.com/
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>
>>_______________________________________________
>>Interaction Design Discussion List
>>discuss at interactiondesigners.com
>>--
>>to unsubscribe: discuss-unsubscribe at interactiondesigners.com
>>--
>>Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
>>--
>>Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements already)
>>http://interactiondesigners.com/announceList/
>>--
>>http://interactiondesigners.com/
>>
>
>
>
>_______________________________________________
>Interaction Design Discussion List
>discuss at interactiondesigners.com
>--
>to unsubscribe: discuss-unsubscribe at interactiondesigners.com
>--
>Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
>--
>Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements already)
>http://interactiondesigners.com/announceList/
>--
>http://interactiondesigners.com/

--
Bruce Tognazzini
Nielsen Norman Group
2 Medway Rd.
Woodside, CA 94062

http://www.asktog.com
_______________________________________________
Interaction Design Discussion List
discuss at interactiondesigners.com
--
to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest): http://discuss.interactiondesigners.com
--
Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
--
Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements already)
http://interactiondesigners.com/announceList/
--
http://interactiondesigners.com/

*********************************************************************
This message is intended only for the person or entity to
which it is addressed and may contain confidential and/or
privileged information, the disclosure of which is prohibited.
If you are not the intended recipient you may not read,
use, disseminate or copy the information transmitted. If
you have received this message in error, please contact
the sender and delete the material from any computer.
Dit bericht is uitsluitend bestemd voor de (rechts)persoon
aan welke het is gericht. Het kan vertrouwelijke of
alleen voor deze bestemde informatie bevatten, die niet
mag worden geopenbaard. Als dit bericht niet voor u
bestemd is, mag u de ontvangen informatie niet lezen,
gebruiken, verspreiden of kopieren. Als u dit bericht
abusievelijk hebt ontvangen, gelieve u het te deleten en
contact op te nemen met de afzender.
********************************************************************

**********************************************************************
This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential and
intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they
are addressed. If you have received this email in error please notify
the system manager.

This footnote also confirms that this email message has been swept by
MIMEsweeper for the presence of computer viruses.

www.mimesweeper.com
**********************************************************************

4 Nov 2003 - 10:12am
Jay Goldman
2003

I agree with Tog completely - these should really be standard formulas
that we can go back to and use. I would love to be able to show an
analysis to a client that is based on industry-accepted math and that
can be verified by an external source. We need to avoid the trap of
"lies, damned lies, and statistics" (i.e.: seemingly important numbers
thrown at clients to make our case) and having a standard method of
analysis (i.e.: actually important numbers) goes a long way towards
that.

We taped every session we ran at IBM and then stored the tapes in a
very important looking room where they sat on the shelf until they were
erased and re-used. I believe we even bought an expensive erasing
machine for that exact purpose. I'm not picking on my former employer -
this is fairly standard practice at all labs around the world. There is
some effort in place, both by them and by others, to move to a digital
recording model where sessions are MPEG'd and stored side-by-side with
log files. This would certainly be more helpful and less costly. I
think taping is only a small part of the cost problem though - the lab
itself with one-way mirrors and cells and workstations and having to
bring users in is a big budget hog. Does anyone have any studies that
show a difference in validity or reliability when using a setup like
that vs. a single recording device and a laptop at a customer site?

Jay

------
Jay Goldman, President
Radiant Core: Design + Develop + Interact
t: 416.941.1551 f: 416.941.9316 c: 416.704.4283

On Nov 3, 2003, at 10:44 PM, Bruce Tognazzini wrote:

> We also need to learn how to translate, "but it ought to be really
> easy to use!" into dollars and cents.
>
> If the software is destined for our own company, such as an intranet,
> we must gather hard data on potential increases in productivity, then
> translate them into hours saved, then finally into dollars saved.
> (Figure salary + 2X salary for overhead).
>
> If destined to be shipped, we need to get data on how much was wasted
> on an engineering team working in panic mode after an earlier,
> low-quality, release. Then add the cost of customer support
> supporting defective software/design. We need to also present this in
> dollars and cents.
>
> Finally, we must look at how much time is wasted in reworking finished
> code as problems arise, due to lack of prototyping and testing. This
> needs to be translated into dollars and cents, as well as schedule
> slippage.
>
> We also need to clean our own house. If the last time we pulled down
> a videotape to review a study was 1997, I guess we're wasting a lot of
> money videotaping. I still firmly believe that, except when testing
> very subtle differences in an otherwise effective and mature
> interface, bare-bones testing with fast turn-around is not only
> cheapest, but most effective.
>
> -tog
>
>> Well said! I'm guessing that most of us already do this, but we
>> need to make sure that the business community knows that we can do
>> this.
>> Regards,
>> Janet Six
>> Lone Star Interface Design
>>
>>
>> Lyle_Kantrovich at cargill.com wrote:
>>
>>> First, let me say that I feel your pain. As someone trying to
>>> champion
>>> UCD, I am constantly challenged to do things cheaper and faster and
>>> fight for a share of budgets and project time. People don't always
>>> understand what we do or the value we add.
>>>
>>> BUT, I'd like to challenge this group a bit. It's one thing to say
>>> that
>>> companies should invest more $$ and time into creating better
>>> products
>>> via design resources and good practices, but do we really understand
>>> the
>>> company's perspective? Do we empathize with budget owners?
>>> Sometimes
>>> we can sound a bit like spoiled kids crying that we don't have enough
>>> toys.
>>>
>>> When do we reach the point when something is "good enough?" How much
>>> is enough budget or time?
>>>
>>> We have to sit side by side with project managers and budget owners
>>> and
>>> help them find ways to make the best of what they're given. I
>>> recently helped a team cut almost a third out of a very sizable
>>> project estimate. Most of the cuts were in "user experience"
>>> activities. Were the things cut good things to do? Absolutely - if
>>> money was unlimited. When we sat down to start "whittling" away
>>> (with a
>>> machete), I advocated that we "right-size" activities rather that cut
>>> whole things out. For example, reducing the scope and formality of
>>> early prototype testing. We focused on the areas where the most risk
>>> existed, keeping UCD activities in place as much as possible. The
>>> result was huge: the project could go forward (!), project sponsors
>>> retained faith in the team, and UCD didn't get lost in the cuts -
>>> just
>>> focused where it's most critical. If I hadn't been involved, UCD
>>> would
>>> have suffered greatly, or the project would have been at risk of
>>> getting
>>> cancelled.
>>>
>>> So rather than crying for more money, sometimes we have to realize
>>> that
>>> the real-world involves difficult choices. The best we can hope for
>>> is
>>> to have a place at the table, and a pragmatic approach. Holding out
>>> for
>>> more money and the "ideal" approach is just not acceptable.
>>>
>>> Try to help people do the best with what they have - not just "do the
>>> best."
>>>
>>> Reality: quality is a reasonable trade-off sometimes. Try imagining
>>> it's your budget and figure out how you'd allocate it
>>> before you argue that your role/activities are the most important.
>>> Don't expect others to compromise if you won't.
>>>
>>> Regards,
>>>
>>> Lyle
>>>
>>> ----
>>> Croc O' Lyle - Personal Commentary on usability, information
>>> architecture and design.
>>> http://crocolyle.blogspot.com/
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
>>> ---
>>>
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> Interaction Design Discussion List
>>> discuss at interactiondesigners.com
>>> --
>>> to unsubscribe: discuss-unsubscribe at interactiondesigners.com
>>> --
>>> Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
>>> --
>>> Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements
>>> already)
>>> http://interactiondesigners.com/announceList/
>>> --
>>> http://interactiondesigners.com/
>>>
>>
>>
>>
>> _______________________________________________
>> Interaction Design Discussion List
>> discuss at interactiondesigners.com
>> --
>> to unsubscribe: discuss-unsubscribe at interactiondesigners.com
>> --
>> Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
>> --
>> Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements
>> already)
>> http://interactiondesigners.com/announceList/
>> --
>> http://interactiondesigners.com/
>
>
> --
> Bruce Tognazzini
> Nielsen Norman Group
> 2 Medway Rd.
> Woodside, CA 94062
>
> http://www.asktog.com
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
> http://discuss.interactiondesigners.com
> --
> Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements
> already)
> http://interactiondesigners.com/announceList/
> --
> http://interactiondesigners.com/
>

4 Nov 2003 - 10:20am
Brad Lauster
2003

Hello Everyone,
...thought I should mention that I just asked a couple people from the
list what a CCO was and I got two very different responses:

1. Chief Commerce Officer. The (wo)man in charge of all marketing,
communication and distribution.

2. Chief Creative Officer. Sits at the same level as Chief Marketing
Officer and Chief Technology Officer (the Board, headed by the CEO).

---

Responding to Arjan:

One thing I think people in our line of work often fail to do is
understand what drives the decisions of upper management.

We're getting better at talking about the value we create, but we're
still pretty crummy when it comes to understanding, for example, the
CEO's real bottom line. That is, what factors drive their compensation?

In public companies, the compensation of C level execs is always tied
to stock price. This is why we often see companies making decisions
that seem ludicrous in terms of customer experience. If a proposal
won't result in a near term gain in the stock value, it probably won't
be adopted.

There are two ways to solve a problem like this. Make the external
conditions match our goals or change how we react to the external
conditions. (If that sounds familiar, I'm reading "Flow.")

As I said, I think we're getting better at talking about what we offer,
but I don't know anyone who's working on incenting executives through
long term metrics tied to customer experience, such as customer
retention.

Of course, this is no easy task. At this point my only suggestion is to
make friends with HR, executive recruiters and anyone else writing
executive compensation plans.

Anyone else have suggestions?

Cheers!
Brad Lauster
< http://bradlauster.com/ >

On Nov 4, 2003, at 6:01 AM, Haring, Arjan wrote:
> What do you think about the following:
>
> CCO's don't think in terms of usability. Their main concern is:
>
> Turning the company in a Customer driven
> (directed/oriented/steered/centered) company. Away from traditional
> inside/out thinking and a product/organisation oriented company. They
> are aware incapable (sometimes it's more constructive to say that they
> are unaware capable, as if they only produce success stories), but the
> resulting action will be the same, work according proven methodology
> to guarantee success in the future.
>
> Usability doesn't fit in here, or does it?
>
> I think User/Customer Centered Design could be a nice way to bridge
> the gap between the product oriented and the customer driven company
> (it's a first step). But we have to merge with (mature) marketing
> research techniques.
>
> The CCO is confronted with a lot of marketing 'professionals' that
> don't know what their doing, don't educate themselves with new
> techniques and try to fill the gap with their gut instinct. Resulting
> in 80 % failure.
>
> Don't give the CCO any crap about usability, but give him what he
> wants; practical and pragmatic controls for directing the company to
> the promised land (his/her long term target). And another suggestion,
> hot air is still the main ingredient for getting things done. Bluff
> your way in to a project by focussing on your knowledge of what the
> customer will desire. This is the closest thing to marketing that
> we've got.
>
> Regards,
>
> Arjan Haring
> Mid Office - Research
> AXA Netherlands
** SNIP **

5 Nov 2003 - 12:22am
Lyle_Kantrovich...
2004

Google provides these possible definitions of executives labeled "CCO"
as well:

chief customer officer
corporate compliance officer
Chief Change Officer
Chief Credit Officer
Corporate Communications Officer
Chief Cultural Officer

Chief Customer Officer seems to fit best in the context of the post, but
I have to admit it had me wondering.

Lyle

----

Croc O' Lyle - Personal Commentary on usability, information
architecture and design.
http://crocolyle.blogspot.com/

-----Original Message-----
From: lists at bradlauster.com [mailto:lists at bradlauster.com]
Sent: Tuesday, November 04, 2003 10:20 AM
To: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] Cost Savings Hurts

Hello Everyone,
...thought I should mention that I just asked a couple people from the
list what a CCO was and I got two very different responses:

1. Chief Commerce Officer. The (wo)man in charge of all marketing,
communication and distribution.

2. Chief Creative Officer. Sits at the same level as Chief Marketing
Officer and Chief Technology Officer (the Board, headed by the CEO).

-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: BDY.RTF
Type: application/rtf
Size: 1529 bytes
Desc: not available
Url : http://lists.interactiondesigners.com/pipermail/discuss-interactiondesigners.com/attachments/20031105/3a79ef67/attachment.rtf

5 Nov 2003 - 6:10am
vutpakdi
2003

--- Jay Goldman <jgoldman at radiantcore.com> wrote:
> [snip] I
> think taping is only a small part of the cost problem though - the lab
> itself with one-way mirrors and cells and workstations and having to
> bring users in is a big budget hog. Does anyone have any studies that
> show a difference in validity or reliability when using a setup like
> that vs. a single recording device and a laptop at a customer site?

No studies, but we've been quite successful with usability tests using a
single recording device and a laptop at a customer site. Taking a
relatively simple mobile setup to the customer site also has great "public
relations" value for us as it makes the customers and users at that site
feel like we really are interested in their concerns. Sure, the end
product isn't quite as nice as a traditional usability lab, but it has
been good enough.

We do have a traditional usability lab. The initial lab was unfortunately
installed in our office located in a city (Austin) that users/customers
rarely visit. Thus, the lab became an expensive drain that was essentially
unused. We recently moved most of the lab to our main facility (Houston),
and we're expecting to get more use since we have quite a few customers
locally, and a number pass through the city on occasion.

Ron

=====
============================================================================
Ron Vutpakdi
vutpakdi at acm.org

__________________________________
Do you Yahoo!?
Protect your identity with Yahoo! Mail AddressGuard
http://antispam.yahoo.com/whatsnewfree

5 Nov 2003 - 7:50am
Pete Gordon - U...
2004

Question and a comment.

First the questions. What were the things that made the traditional
usability lab nicer, than the portable solution? Did you roll your own
portable solution with a webcam and a laptop, or was it one of the one
of the vendors solutions (Usability Systems, OvoStudios, NormWilcox,
etc.)?

I like the "public relations" value. I think that is a good point.
Let alone that the fact that you are able to do a field study brings
down the change anxiety level of taking users out of their environment.

I have a software based Portable Lab that I am bringing to market, I
would love to get feedback and comments on. Check it out,
http://www.usersfirst.com

I really believe digital user research is going to revolution the SDLC
(Software Development Life-Cycle) by being able to efficiently
communicate User Experience throughout the organization (Developers,
C-level executives, designers, product managers, etc.). It is amazing
how product innovation improves when everyone understands the
user/customer better.

Thanks,
Pete Gordon

On Wednesday, November 5, 2003, at 07:10 AM, Ron Vutpakdi wrote:

>
> --- Jay Goldman <jgoldman at radiantcore.com> wrote:
>> [snip] I
>> think taping is only a small part of the cost problem though - the lab
>> itself with one-way mirrors and cells and workstations and having to
>> bring users in is a big budget hog. Does anyone have any studies that
>> show a difference in validity or reliability when using a setup like
>> that vs. a single recording device and a laptop at a customer site?
>
> No studies, but we've been quite successful with usability tests using
> a
> single recording device and a laptop at a customer site. Taking a
> relatively simple mobile setup to the customer site also has great
> "public
> relations" value for us as it makes the customers and users at that
> site
> feel like we really are interested in their concerns. Sure, the end
> product isn't quite as nice as a traditional usability lab, but it has
> been good enough.
>
> We do have a traditional usability lab. The initial lab was
> unfortunately
> installed in our office located in a city (Austin) that users/customers
> rarely visit. Thus, the lab became an expensive drain that was
> essentially
> unused. We recently moved most of the lab to our main facility
> (Houston),
> and we're expecting to get more use since we have quite a few customers
> locally, and a number pass through the city on occasion.
>
> Ron
>
> =====
> =======================================================================
> =====
> Ron Vutpakdi
> vutpakdi at acm.org
>
>
> __________________________________
> Do you Yahoo!?
> Protect your identity with Yahoo! Mail AddressGuard
> http://antispam.yahoo.com/whatsnewfree
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
> http://discuss.interactiondesigners.com
> --
> Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements
> already)
> http://interactiondesigners.com/announceList/
> --
> http://interactiondesigners.com/
>
>

Pete Gordon
Users First
http://www.usersfirst.com
pete at usersfirst.com
p. 614-340-1447
f. 614-340-1449
3492 Wheatfield Dr.
Pickerington, Ohio 43147-8833
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: businessCard2.gif
Type: image/gif
Size: 10159 bytes
Desc: not available
Url : http://lists.interactiondesigners.com/pipermail/discuss-interactiondesigners.com/attachments/20031105/c57930bd/attachment.gif

5 Nov 2003 - 9:15am
Lyle_Kantrovich...
2004

Folks looking for a tapeless (i.e. digital) usability testing system
should check out TwinView from Neenan Partners:
http://www.neenanpartners.com/twinview/index.htm

I think it can be used as a portable solution or in a lab setting.

-----Original Message-----
From: vutpakdi at yahoo.com [mailto:vutpakdi at yahoo.com]
Sent: Wednesday, November 05, 2003 6:11 AM
To: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] Cost Savings Hurts

--- Jay Goldman <jgoldman at radiantcore.com> wrote:
> [snip] I
> think taping is only a small part of the cost problem though - the lab

> itself with one-way mirrors and cells and workstations and having to
> bring users in is a big budget hog. Does anyone have any studies that

> show a difference in validity or reliability when using a setup like
> that vs. a single recording device and a laptop at a customer site?

No studies, but we've been quite successful with usability tests using a
single recording device and a laptop at a customer site. Taking a
relatively simple mobile setup to the customer site also has great
"public
relations" value for us as it makes the customers and users at that site
feel like we really are interested in their concerns. Sure, the end
product isn't quite as nice as a traditional usability lab, but it has
been good enough.

We do have a traditional usability lab. The initial lab was
unfortunately
installed in our office located in a city (Austin) that users/customers
rarely visit. Thus, the lab became an expensive drain that was
essentially
unused. We recently moved most of the lab to our main facility
(Houston),
and we're expecting to get more use since we have quite a few customers
locally, and a number pass through the city on occasion.

Ron

=====
========================================================================
====
Ron Vutpakdi
vutpakdi at acm.org

-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: BDY.RTF
Type: application/rtf
Size: 2339 bytes
Desc: not available
Url : http://lists.interactiondesigners.com/pipermail/discuss-interactiondesigners.com/attachments/20031105/624780d2/attachment.rtf

5 Nov 2003 - 10:20am
Pete Gordon - U...
2004

Here is a good list of most all the players in the portable lab space,
although we are not yet listed there.

http://www.stcsig.org/usability/topics/usabilty-labs.html

Pete Gordon
Users First
http://www.usersfirst.com
pete at usersfirst.com
p. 614-340-1447
f. 614-340-1449
3492 Wheatfield Dr.
Pickerington, Ohio 43147-8833
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: businessCard2.gif
Type: image/gif
Size: 10159 bytes
Desc: not available
Url : http://lists.interactiondesigners.com/pipermail/discuss-interactiondesigners.com/attachments/20031105/5eff2d56/attachment.gif
-------------- next part --------------

Pete Gordon
SPS Commerce
Manager of Fourthchannel Services
1275 Kinnear Road?
Columbus, OH 43212
Work: 614-340-1447
Fax: 614-340-1449
Email: pgordon at fourthchannel.com

Customer Support: 866-205-1440
Web:
www.fourthchannel.com
www.spscommerce.com
?

?

5 Nov 2003 - 2:27pm
vutpakdi
2003

--- Pete Gordon <pete at usersfirst.com> wrote:
> First the questions. What were the things that made the traditional
> usability lab nicer, than the portable solution? Did you roll your own
> portable solution with a webcam and a laptop, or was it one of the one
> of the vendors solutions (Usability Systems, OvoStudios, NormWilcox,
> etc.)?

The traditional lab that we had in Austin was nicer from the perspective
that we had dedicated machines, multiple cameras, and a one way glass set
up. Having multiple cameras/recording devices is certainly handy,
particularly when when with applications which benefit from having multiple
monitors.

Our portable solution is completely home grown. A laptop and a digital 8
camcorder (or two). Usually, the digital 8 camcorder records the screen
action (particularly if we're using the client's machine so that she can
use her own data (another good reason to go onsite)). We have run some
tests where we're using a screen recorder (Camtasia, among others) to grab
the screen action (on the laptop) while the camcorder records the
participant's face.

>
> I like the "public relations" value. I think that is a good point.
> Let alone that the fact that you are able to do a field study brings
> down the change anxiety level of taking users out of their environment.
>

The account reps and onsite support folks really appreciated us coming out
to run the tests onsite. One ergonomics issue at a major oil company got
bumped way up the chain of command on the customer side, and sending a team
out to run tests and examine the users' set up helped calm the situation
down quite a bit.

It's also much easier to get users to agree to a usability test if there is
less imposition on them (ie, they don't have to travel). We also get to
see what their offices look like and see if they have any concerns that may
only show up with their data. For example, an application may work just
fine with the developer's test data set containing 100 wells, but when
working with a big real life data set of 10,000 wells, the application
isn't usable any more.

Of course, we're working with vertical market software, and some of the
advantages of using a portable setup won't apply as well for shrink wrap
software or some web sites.

Ron

=====
============================================================================
Ron Vutpakdi
vutpakdi at acm.org

__________________________________
Do you Yahoo!?
Protect your identity with Yahoo! Mail AddressGuard
http://antispam.yahoo.com/whatsnewfree

5 Nov 2003 - 9:36pm
John O'Donovan
2004

----- Original Message -----
From: "Jay Goldman" <jgoldman at radiantcore.com>

> I agree with Tog completely - these should really be standard formulas
> that we can go back to and use. I would love to be able to show an
> analysis to a client that is based on industry-accepted math and that
> can be verified by an external source. We need to avoid the trap of
> "lies, damned lies, and statistics" (i.e.: seemingly important numbers
> thrown at clients to make our case) and having a standard method of
> analysis (i.e.: actually important numbers) goes a long way towards
> that.
>

For many of the intangible benefits of using better products, it will be
very difficult to tie this back to cold, hard cash savings, because many of
the benefits will not manifest themselves in ways which financial ROI will
be able to understand or link back to the improved product.

"Did the new interface improve productivity or was it the new office
layout?"

But showing greater accountability and better models for illustrating the
impact of changes made will help. There needs to be benefit clearly
illustrated to the point where it is irresistible - but then having been
given a share of the project time and budget, you have to work within the
constraints this sets.

I think wider use and understanding of patterns has potential for easily and
quickly showing how improvements will manifest themselves and it would also
be nice to see wider acceptance that the success criteria for a project, and
the metrics used to evaluate it, cover wider measures of ROI than just
financial ones.

Something to be wary of with metrics though, is the example of software
estimation methods. These were designed to fine tune the cost / benefit
analysis by inputting a set of criteria and churning out an estimate of the
costs / effort / time required, which could then be used to fine tune the
ROI. (see COCOMO, Function Points, etc)

Though estimation methods have improved over the years, the only thing they
really proved without doubt, is that it is very, very, very hard to do this
accurately, and there is a lot to be learnt from the way Software
Methodologies have developed to cope with this problem.

Cheers,

jod

5 Nov 2003 - 9:43pm
John O'Donovan
2004

----- Original Message -----
From: "Bruce Tognazzini" <tog2003 at asktog.com>

> Finally, we must look at how much time is wasted in reworking
> finished code as problems arise, due to lack of prototyping and
> testing. This needs to be translated into dollars and cents, as well
> as schedule slippage.
>

"Unfortunately, there continues to be a gap between the state of the art and
the state of the practice of software engineering. Commonly used
software-development practices result in lost productivity, as time and
money are wasted on rework. Data indicate that 60-80% of the cost of
software development is rework--that is, fixing defects that are found
during testing. While software must still be tested, testing and rework
costs would be reduced if better design and implementation practices were
used. "

http://www.sei.cmu.edu/director/aboutSEI.html

Of course you have to pull apart the problem to get to exactly what caused
the reworking...

Poor analysis?
Poor design?
Poor development?
Poor Change Control and Requirements management?
Poor coffee?
...

Cheers,

jod

Syndicate content Get the feed