When those who know little about Usability offer Usability Services

30 Oct 2007 - 4:47pm
6 years ago
11 replies
651 reads
Adam Connor
2007

In the past few months I've run into quite a few designers, studios,
developers, etc. who have begun offering Usability services to their
clients. However after talking to them for a while it becomes clear that
they really don't know what Usability is (they've never conducted a
usability test, are unfamiliar with many common best practices, don't
have any training, and so on and so forth...). Instead it would seem
that they have picked up on the importance of usability and have
included it in their services to better promote themselves to clients.

I've also noticed that most of these individuals I've spoken to mistake
Usability for a set of logical conventions. Something like "button A
goes in the top left corner because thats where it would logically
go..." or "module B should look like this because most sites do it that
way..." They forget that while many usability best practices may
conform to logical thinking, the user's expectations are what matter and
if that differs from what you believe is logical, well... you need to
make adjustments.

So I ask you: Is this the price we pay for growing popularity of
Usability and User-Centered Design?

Have you noticed other groups doing similar things?

Does it bother you as much as it does me?

-adam

Comments

31 Oct 2007 - 8:36am
Todd Warfel
2003

Ah yes, the side dish companies.

On Oct 30, 2007, at 5:47 PM, Adam Connor wrote:

> So I ask you: Is this the price we pay for growing popularity of
> Usability and User-Centered Design?

Yes. That's what happens. An executive or sales person reads about
usability, ethnography, or personas in the latest issue of Business
Week. They see they can monetize it and decide they should start
offering this service they know nothing about. After all, how hard can
it really be?

They aren't a firm specializing in research, ethnography, usability,
personas, etc. They are a firm that offers these services as a side
dish.

The upside is that it raises the visibility. The downside is that it
decreases the value of the service by diluting the quality of work.

> Have you noticed other groups doing similar things?

Yes.

> Does it bother you as much as it does me?

More actually. Could you tell?

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
President, Design Researcher
Messagefirst | Designing Information. Beautifully.
----------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (215) 825-7423
Email: todd at messagefirst.com
AIM: twarfel at mac.com
Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
----------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

31 Oct 2007 - 8:54am
bminihan
2007

Yes, I have noticed this a lot, not just other companies, but departments
within my last company - lots of lip service, and very little method.

The only reason it doesn't bother me is because I don't have time to get mad
at what other people do. I could be mad at offshore developers for taking
American jobs (they don't, but it's something people get mad at), at
politicians lying to the public (it's a given), at bad people getting away
with bad things and good people having the book thrown at them.

I can't really control any of the above scenarios, so it's a waste of time
to get mad about them. With the usability situation, the best I can do is
demonstrate inarguably that my methods yield great results. If the groups
you describe don't follow the same methods, but call it usability, then
*probably* their results will be sub-par. Then again, they could call it
whatever they want and if their results are just as good or better than
mine, who am I to say they're doing it wrong, or discourage people from
using them.

Focus on your work, and spreading the word/teaching folks about usability,
and don't worry about the others.

Bryan
http://www.bryanminihan.com

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Adam
Connor
Sent: Tuesday, October 30, 2007 5:47 PM
To: discuss at ixdg.org
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] When those who know little about Usability offer
Usability Services

Have you noticed other groups doing similar things?

Does it bother you as much as it does me?

-adam

31 Oct 2007 - 9:45pm
Melvin Jay Kumar
2007

This issue is ooohhh so common in Singapore and the region.

I know of so many web design firms who now have with a wave of a hand
suddenly have a UCD practice and offer all services from usability
testing to analysis to taxonomy development etc...etc....etc...

This is happening especially here because, select companies,
Government agenices have start to include "usability" as in their
RFP's.

So all these web design firms cannot submit their proposal without a
"usability" component and thus they all have UCD practices in their
firm.

I know of a company that recruited people who have no experience or
knowledge in these areas send them for a "usability analyst" 3 three
seminar done by one of the firms you'll definltely know, and then
bham! they are usability and UCD experts.

They know understand every compoment from interaction design to
interface design tc...etc...etc...

That is not the worst thing, the worst is that, to get the job, they
reduce their rates so low and promise their clients the world.....its
just ridiculous sometimes.

I could talk about it, but its just funny...ever heard of usability
testing for 49.99? ;P

Regards,

Jay Kumar

On 10/31/07, Adam Connor <adam at littlegreentoaster.com> wrote:
> In the past few months I've run into quite a few designers, studios,
> developers, etc. who have begun offering Usability services to their
> clients. However after talking to them for a while it becomes clear that
> they really don't know what Usability is (they've never conducted a
> usability test, are unfamiliar with many common best practices, don't
> have any training, and so on and so forth...). Instead it would seem
> that they have picked up on the importance of usability and have
> included it in their services to better promote themselves to clients.
>
> I've also noticed that most of these individuals I've spoken to mistake
> Usability for a set of logical conventions. Something like "button A
> goes in the top left corner because thats where it would logically
> go..." or "module B should look like this because most sites do it that
> way..." They forget that while many usability best practices may
> conform to logical thinking, the user's expectations are what matter and
> if that differs from what you believe is logical, well... you need to
> make adjustments.
>
> So I ask you: Is this the price we pay for growing popularity of
> Usability and User-Centered Design?
>
> Have you noticed other groups doing similar things?
>
> Does it bother you as much as it does me?
>
> -adam
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://gamma.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://gamma.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://gamma.ixda.org/help
>

3 Nov 2007 - 5:20am
Kel Smith
2007

"Is this the price we pay for growing popularity of Usability and
User-Centered Design?"

Yes, unfortunately. On the plus side, this has led to an increase in
self-perpetuated knowledge as applied to perceived value. In other
words - people know they want it, but they may not be completely
familiar with the specific processes or deliverables. It's a start.

It can still be frustrating, though. At a recent seminar, our
moderator described the difficulties involving UX practitioners
throughout the project lifecycle. Stakeholders seem content to
request something like "just give me a half-pound of that there
usability stuff," usually too late in the game. Again, it's a
start.

Great thread, thanks.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://gamma.ixda.org/discuss?post=21962

4 Nov 2007 - 7:01am
Bruno Figueiredo
2007

In Portugal I'm the President of the Usability Professionals
Association (APPU) and we had this problem in mind since the start.
Unfortunately it's very common in Portugal to see people without any
skills in a particular field to offer services within. Like everyone
is a sort of a handiman, "Sure, I know how to fix your car AND the
plumbing in your house".

So when we started APPU we outlined the membership requirements so
that only people with at least minimum knowledge of the field are
full members. All of the other ones are sort of "trainees" until
they get more experience. That worked out quite well.

Then, to prevent the problem with companies offering up services they
don't know nothing about we develop an Accreditation system. Only
companies with a full APPU member on their payroll and that prove to
incorporate HCI methods in their development process can have this
seal of approval.

In the US, all of the Professional Associations, let anybody in.
That's good to popularize the field but has this kinds of drawbacks.

I believe that eventually in the end, costumers will be able to
figure out if a company knows what it's doing or not, but we are
still far from that.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://gamma.ixda.org/discuss?post=21962

4 Nov 2007 - 8:10am
Chauncey Wilson
2007

Hello Bruno,

The UPA has considered certification in the past (there are notes in
UPA Web site), but one of the big issues has been determining what
knowledge, skills, and abilities are most important to usability (and
now "user experience"). I'm working with a group on a usability Body
of Knowledge (BoK) that might sometime in the future serve as the
foundation for certification. We're looking for volunteers to help us
with the usability BoK. Our sample site is at
http://www.usabilitybok.org/

Could you tell us what your specific requirements are for being
certified? I would be very curious about that since it has caused
great debate in the USA.

Thank you,
Chauncey

On Sun, 4 Nov 2007 04:01:04, Bruno Figueiredo
<bruno.figueiredo at gmail.com> wrote:

> So when we started APPU we outlined the membership requirements so
> that only people with at least minimum knowledge of the field are
> full members. All of the other ones are sort of "trainees" until
> they get more experience. That worked out quite well.
>
> Then, to prevent the problem with companies offering up services they
> don't know nothing about we develop an Accreditation system. Only
> companies with a full APPU member on their payroll and that prove to
> incorporate HCI methods in their development process can have this
> seal of approval.
>
> In the US, all of the Professional Associations, let anybody in.
> That's good to popularize the field but has this kinds of drawbacks.
>
> I believe that eventually in the end, costumers will be able to
> figure out if a company knows what it's doing or not, but we are
> still far from that.
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://gamma.ixda.org/discuss?post=21962
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://gamma.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://gamma.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://gamma.ixda.org/help
>

4 Nov 2007 - 11:44am
jarango
2004

Hello Bruno,

This sounds like an interesting experience. Can you share more
details about the APPU's accreditation system? For example, how long
have you been doing it? What is the proportion of accredited members
to trainees? How has the APPU gotten the client community to
recognize the value of your "seal of approval"?

Thanks,

--
Jorge Arango

On Nov 4, 2007, at 4:01 AM, Bruno Figueiredo wrote:

> In Portugal I'm the President of the Usability Professionals
> Association (APPU) and we had this problem in mind since the start.
> Unfortunately it's very common in Portugal to see people without any
> skills in a particular field to offer services within. Like everyone
> is a sort of a handiman, "Sure, I know how to fix your car AND the
> plumbing in your house".
>
> So when we started APPU we outlined the membership requirements so
> that only people with at least minimum knowledge of the field are
> full members. All of the other ones are sort of "trainees" until
> they get more experience. That worked out quite well.
>
> Then, to prevent the problem with companies offering up services they
> don't know nothing about we develop an Accreditation system. Only
> companies with a full APPU member on their payroll and that prove to
> incorporate HCI methods in their development process can have this
> seal of approval.
>
> In the US, all of the Professional Associations, let anybody in.
> That's good to popularize the field but has this kinds of drawbacks.
>
> I believe that eventually in the end, costumers will be able to
> figure out if a company knows what it's doing or not, but we are
> still far from that.
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://gamma.ixda.org/discuss?post=21962
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://gamma.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://gamma.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://gamma.ixda.org/help

4 Nov 2007 - 12:55pm
Bruno Figueiredo
2007

I don't know how it works in the US but to certify something in
Europe you need to have a ISO standard behind you. So what we give is
"Accreditation". We are going to start doing this before the end of
the year since we're still ironing out the last details.

APPU does its fair share of free public events and we appear
frequently in the media so the IT community is already fairly aware
that we exist and what we stand for. That's very important before
pushing this kind of accreditation system.

For now we are going to evaluate companies based on their compliance
of a set of general UX guidelines. For small companies, if the head
of UX is also the director or partner of the company and at the same
time they are full fledged members of APPU, then they can bypass
Accreditation. For larger companies it's harder to bypass it, but
still possible.

Jorge: we have about 40 members right now. About half of them are
full members, 5 are students and the rest are what we call
"Correspondent" members. Only full members can be elected but
everyone can vote. We also have close to 300 subscribers of our
mailing list. Given the current UX scene in Portugal we really can't
complain.

Chauncey: I can give you more details about this in about a month.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://gamma.ixda.org/discuss?post=21962

10 Dec 2007 - 1:57pm
Pedro Neves
2007

I'm also from Lisbon, and I know Bruno.

The Design associative scene in Portugal it's very recent and don't
have a clear structure.

Within this context the APPU association it's a good initiative but
due to the absence of associative basis in terms of a more broad
design association culture, survives with a very paused heart beat,
and unfortunately at a closed circuit.

At some time ago I have decided to organise a series of meetings
around the Interaction design concepts, and there are some interest,
we already meet once, and there's some expectative about the follow
ups feed into a mailing list of 35 professionals at this moment.

Me and other people that already have some curiosity around the
interaction design issues in Lisbon and the developments will welcome
Bruno for moving more meetings and to clarify the IxDA face to face
Lisbon structure.

All the best.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=21962

11 Dec 2007 - 10:23am
Pedro Custodio
2007

Pedro,

although I'm happy to see some action and some liveness coming from
Lisbon, I honestly believe that you're taking the wrong approach
here...

Reading you stating that APPU works in a closed way just doesn't
make sense and it's actually not true at all, especially if one
considers that APPU it's according to the portuguese law, a civil
association and open to anyone who wants to join in as member as
stated on it's website.

It's also very sad to read here by your own letters that it survives
at the expense of a very close circuit, which has not only being
growing, but it has only grown by the efforts of its members to
actually promote the subject of user interaction and usability in
national and international terms.

I personally think you're being most unfair here...

Second, it's a fact that Bruno isn't currently working in Portugal,
which put him more or less on/off phisically, the truth is that he has
been always virtually present in Portugal even when is not here in
person.

But APPU isn't Bruno alone so you can always address any of the
other public members of the association. I'm certain that as a
member of association you've certainly received several emails and
invitations to all the APPU promoted actions.

Being one of the founding members, I'm really sad to see that
instead of joining forces with APPU you've decided to measure forces
and directly attack the work of others, that like yourself are only
claiming more work/awareness and action around interaction design in
Lisbon/Portugal.

I do sincerely hope that you might come to your senses and realize
that the best way is definitely by joining forces and not the other
way around... at least I'm a strong believer that together we can
make a difference and not the other way around.

Feel free to drop me a line and we'll meet to talk.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://gamma.ixda.org/discuss?post=23374

12 Dec 2007 - 10:12am
Pedro Neves
2007

I'm happy you are happy to see action from Lisbon. :)

When I've made reference the closed way in the APPU, was not in the
context of the civil association and the open associative membership,
that I think it's great and a an important initiative.

I don't want to be unfair. And I don't what to measure forces that
I don't have (please), I just what to know the possible relation
between the APPU and the idea of Face2face IxD group in Lisbon, but
for that we really need to talk, the question its that Bruno just
doesn't reply to my emails...

Thank you for your availability and lets meet.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=23374

Syndicate content Get the feed