Anyone succeeded in getting a usability-only release?

31 Jan 2007 - 12:43pm
7 years ago
13 replies
532 reads
jbellis
2005

Have any of you ever succeeded in getting a software release dedicated solely to usability fixes? I guess I'm primarily addressing in-house specialists... presumably consultants are often engaged to address solely usability.

Thanks, www.jackbellis.com

Comments

31 Jan 2007 - 1:00pm
russwilson
2005

There may be some examples out there, but I think that a release
with only usability fixes would be a hard sell to customers. Usability
improvements are very valuable but most often need to accompany new
or improved features.

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
jackbellis.com
Sent: Wednesday, January 31, 2007 11:44 AM
To: discuss
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Anyone succeeded in getting a usability-only
release?

Have any of you ever succeeded in getting a software release dedicated
solely to usability fixes? I guess I'm primarily addressing in-house
specialists... presumably consultants are often engaged to address
solely usability.

Thanks, www.jackbellis.com
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31 Jan 2007 - 1:12pm
Renato Almeida
2005

I was able once to schedule significant changes to a particular module of
the application just to address usability. It was somewhat easy to justify
by showing the time customer support had to spend on solving issues due to
the complexity of the application or elaborated steps that users had to
follow in order to accomplish tasks. That particular module had to do with
installation and configuration of certain modules and used to demand a lot
of technical knowledge from users.
As a matter of fact, showing "after-change" numbers of the customer support
time spent on it made easier to justify usability enhancements to other
parts of the application.

Renato

On 1/31/07, jackbellis.com <jackbellis at hotmail.com> wrote:
>
> Have any of you ever succeeded in getting a software release dedicated
> solely to usability fixes? I guess I'm primarily addressing in-house
> specialists... presumably consultants are often engaged to address solely
> usability.
>
> Thanks, www.jackbellis.com
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
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31 Jan 2007 - 1:16pm
Dante Murphy
2006

Yes, I did a UI update to PeopleSoft as a consultant for Vanguard a
couple of years ago Purely a series of usability fixes to their time
tracking system, which they had rolled out a year earlier but had
horrible compliance and accuracy issues with. I didn't have to sell the
idea, just execute it. Not sure if that's what you were looking for.

_______________________________________
Dante Murphy | Director of Information Architecture
Medical Broadcasting Company | A D I G I T A S INC. COMPANY

-----Original Message-----
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Anyone succeeded in getting a usability-only
release?

Have any of you ever succeeded in getting a software release dedicated
solely to usability fixes? I guess I'm primarily addressing in-house
specialists... presumably consultants are often engaged to address
solely usability.

31 Jan 2007 - 1:27pm
Paul Trumble
2004

I have done several smallish releases to web applications which
consisted almost entirely of usability enhancements. It's pretty easy
to sell in eCommerce.

Paul Trumble

> -----Original Message-----
> Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Anyone succeeded in getting a usability-only
> release?
>
> Have any of you ever succeeded in getting a software release dedicated
> solely to usability fixes? I guess I'm primarily addressing in-house
> specialists... presumably consultants are often engaged to address
> solely usability.
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
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>

31 Jan 2007 - 1:34pm
jstrande
2007

Jack,

Yes. It started with an extensive set of customer visits across the
globe. Those visits resulted in two main pieces of feedback:

1.) The site is hard to use / hard to navigate
2.) Inconsistent information

We took those findings to the c-level managers and they were sold
after they saw the customer quotes on the first slide...

I'd be happy to provide any additional details - let me know.

Jon

On 1/31/07, jackbellis.com <jackbellis at hotmail.com> wrote:
> Have any of you ever succeeded in getting a software release dedicated solely to usability fixes? I guess I'm primarily addressing in-house specialists... presumably consultants are often engaged to address solely usability.
>
> Thanks, www.jackbellis.com
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
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> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
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>

31 Jan 2007 - 1:14pm
Renato Almeida
2005

It is true that it was part of a larger project that included some new
features, but a significant part of the cost of the release was dedicated to
usability enhancements.

Renato

On 1/31/07, Renato Almeida <rfurno at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> I was able once to schedule significant changes to a particular module of
> the application just to address usability. It was somewhat easy to justify
> by showing the time customer support had to spend on solving issues due to
> the complexity of the application or elaborated steps that users had to
> follow in order to accomplish tasks. That particular module had to do with
> installation and configuration of certain modules and used to demand a lot
> of technical knowledge from users.
> As a matter of fact, showing "after-change" numbers of the customer
> support time spent on it made easier to justify usability enhancements to
> other parts of the application.
>
> Renato
>
>
> On 1/31/07, jackbellis.com <jackbellis at hotmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > Have any of you ever succeeded in getting a software release dedicated
> > solely to usability fixes? I guess I'm primarily addressing in-house
> > specialists... presumably consultants are often engaged to address solely
> > usability.
> >
> > Thanks, www.jackbellis.com
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> > List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> > (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> > Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> > Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> > Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> > Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
> >
>
>

31 Jan 2007 - 1:43pm
Phillip Hunter
2006

That's a fairly regular practice for us, but we're in a special niche and
our business model depends heavily on practical usability.

Phillip

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
jackbellis.com
Sent: Wednesday, January 31, 2007 12:44 PM
To: discuss
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Anyone succeeded in getting a usability-only
release?

Have any of you ever succeeded in getting a software release dedicated
solely to usability fixes? I guess I'm primarily addressing in-house
specialists... presumably consultants are often engaged to address solely
usability.

Thanks, www.jackbellis.com
________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
(Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org

31 Jan 2007 - 2:13pm
jbellis
2005

"Maybe you can re-frame your usability improvements as features?" I like that. Maybe I'll refactor my car as one twisty knob you turn to control everything and call it a radio---a dangerous 4-wheel radio---not a car!

But seriously, the results are encouraging, confirming that many companies can focus on usability. That's all I was curious about.
Thanks, www.jackbellis.com

----- Original Message -----
From: Nasir Barday

Convincing customers to *buy* the new release may be a challenge. Especially since the people buying the product aren't always the people using it, the sell will have to be on how much time/money the changes will save. In some markets, as discussed before, a feature list is what sells the upgrade. Maybe you can re-frame your usability improvements as features?

- Nasir

31 Jan 2007 - 1:26pm
Nasir Barday
2006

I'm working on a "usability improvement" release for a product right now. We
have a subscription model for our software, so almost all of the convincing
had to happen with product managers. As a result of evangelizing usability
testing for a while, I ran a few user tests on the product and the
suggestions that came out of it directly became enhancements.

I jive with Renato's post, and it's an idea you'll hear time and time again:
justify the change(s) with something that hits the bottom line (in our case
it was the competitive advantage of making the product better). It's all
about the ROI, baby.

Convincing customers to *buy* the new release may be a challenge. Especially
since the people buying the product aren't always the people using it, the
sell will have to be on how much time/money the changes will save. In some
markets, as discussed before, a feature list is what sells the upgrade.
Maybe you can re-frame your usability improvements as features?

- Nasir

31 Jan 2007 - 1:54pm
jayeffvee
2007

In our company, we have a whole budget line devoted to what we call
"customer experience issues", with regular releases, usually bundled
with other maintenance releases. We also have a monthly contest for
internal people for finding the juiciest user experience issue to
solve. You win, you get movie tickets...not a big deal, but...

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
jackbellis.com
Sent: Wednesday, January 31, 2007 12:44 PM
To: discuss
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Anyone succeeded in getting a usability-only
release?

Have any of you ever succeeded in getting a software release dedicated
solely to usability fixes? I guess I'm primarily addressing in-house
specialists... presumably consultants are often engaged to address
solely usability.

Thanks, www.jackbellis.com
________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
(Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org

1 Feb 2007 - 11:41am
Michael Micheletti
2006

Yes. In an earlier role, I was tasked with redesigning an in-house
application that was not well received in its first limited release. There
were a great many screens, all laid out jumbly - easy to get lost and
confused. We shrank the number of screens, displayed where you were in the
navigation and process, started with good default values, and spruced up a
couple of key screens. The redesigned web application was much better
received by the in-house users. This was a great relief to the sponsoring
managers (businesspeople) who were very happy to be known for heading a
successful project turnaround.

I was fortunate on the project to have exceptionally knowledgeable users and
user managers participate directly in the team. They contributed many good
ideas and a lot of their time helping me to get things right.

One thing we tried that turned out to be quite successful was to do a
cognitive walkthrough of a high-resolution prototype of the web front end. I
asked the senior management sponsor on the project team to drive. He got an
immediate sense of what it would be like to use the new tool. In a lively
two-hour session, we validated or corrected the prototype. This gave the
development team a lot of confidence in the new design.

Michael Micheletti

On 1/31/07, jackbellis.com <jackbellis at hotmail.com> wrote:
>
> Have any of you ever succeeded in getting a software release dedicated
> solely to usability fixes? I guess I'm primarily addressing in-house
> specialists... presumably consultants are often engaged to address solely
> usability.
>
>

1 Feb 2007 - 3:33pm
jbellis
2005

Adrian,
That's exactly the conclusion I've reached, too.

As our releases got longer, for some reason "elective" stuff---let's not
start a whole new spamthread here---is squeezed out. I think it's because
it's rationalized out of the timeline because the release is perceived as
never getting done. The word I use is "pace." Only by estabishing a better
pace of rollouts am I able to make usabilty items get in the plan with more
regularity and then stay on the calendar.

Regards, www.jackbellis.com

----- Original Message -----
From: "Adrian Howard" <adrianh at quietstars.com>
To: "jackbellis.com" <jackbellis at hotmail.com>
Sent: Thursday, February 01, 2007 11:02 AM
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Anyone succeeded in getting a usability-only
release?

>
> On 31 Jan 2007, at 17:43, jackbellis.com wrote:
>
> > Have any of you ever succeeded in getting a software release
> > dedicated solely to usability fixes? I guess I'm primarily
> > addressing in-house specialists... presumably consultants are often
> > engaged to address solely usability.
> [snip]
>
> On a sort of tangent I find it much easier to get usability fixes in
> if the release cycle is short. Far simpler to get a release focussed
> on a particular area if you're pushing out a new version of your web
> app to the public every two weeks.
>
> Cheers,
>
> Adrian
>
>

2 Feb 2007 - 3:16am
Adrian Howard
2005

On 1 Feb 2007, at 20:33, jackbellis.com wrote:

> Adrian,
> That's exactly the conclusion I've reached, too.
>
> As our releases got longer, for some reason "elective" stuff---
> let's not
> start a whole new spamthread here---is squeezed out. I think it's
> because
> it's rationalized out of the timeline because the release is
> perceived as
> never getting done. The word I use is "pace." Only by estabishing a
> better
> pace of rollouts am I able to make usabilty items get in the plan
> with more
> regularity and then stay on the calendar.
[snip]

This is yet another reason why I like working in agile development
groups using XP or similar. That pace is built into the process.

Cheers,

Adrian

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