Conflict of Usability goals with Training objectives?

31 Oct 2004 - 9:03pm
9 years ago
4 replies
678 reads
Pradyot Rai
2004

This is a question more from overall product strategy point of view.
The scenario is a typical product redesign initiative with full UCD
recommendations. This involves the whole 9 yards with close
interactions with users. Also, the same team is assigned to carry out
research for training needs too. This is causing some to be skeptical
about the approach. They look at it as two different things and want
it to be dealt with entirely different methodology/teams.

Their argument – "UCD has conflict of interest with training needs".
"UCD's efforts are undermined if Training needs are accessed even
before the design objectives are defined".

This is getting difficult to articulate -- Why is there conflict of
interest? Folks with lots of Common sense suggests that both of them
are just two sides of the same coin?

To explain the context, product redesign have been Product
Management/Technology initiative, while training has always been in
Marketing. The usage of product requires some level of domain
expertise, and training programs currently enhances its usage. This is
an application that also enforces a unique process for customer to
abide with. There are lots of legal, technical, enterprise specific
constraints with its usage.

Any discussion, pointers, case studies, papers will be greatly
appreciated. I would love to hear how this situation is dealt at
different organizations.

(If you wish to stay anonymous, kindly send me the email and I will
summarize it for the whole group.)

Thanks in advance.

Prady

Comments

31 Oct 2004 - 9:20pm
Listera
2004

Prady Rai:

> Why is there conflict of interest?

Because in a corporate setting there's an inverse relationship between UCD
and training?

Because less UCD guarantees more training?

Because UCD is infinitely harder to pull off than training?

Because you can smart-design away someone's comfortable training job?

----
Ziya

Generalizations are always inaccurate.

31 Oct 2004 - 9:37pm
Pradyot Rai
2004

Listera <listera at rcn.com> wrote:

> > Why is there conflict of interest?
>
> Because in a corporate setting there's an inverse relationship between UCD
> and training?

Do you mean inverse relation with ultimate product quality, because
product quality will be subject to compromise by training assuptions?

>
> Because UCD is infinitely harder to pull off than training?

Can you elaborate more on that? I am not sure if I understand it
correctly. Wisdom of common sense finds it hard to swallow because
they argue there will always be training for other marketing reasons -
enforcing the processes, customer relationship, user satisfaction,
etc.

Thanks,

Prady

31 Oct 2004 - 11:39pm
Listera
2004

Prady Rai:

>> Because in a corporate setting there's an inverse relationship between UCD
>> and training?
>
> Do you mean inverse relation with ultimate product quality, because
> product quality will be subject to compromise by training assuptions?

One of the largest projects I ever worked on, a financial *web* app, had a
manual nearly 200 pages long and a small army who'd go out to customers'
premises for a day or so to train them!

The app's IA/UI/UX was ghastly. One of the main reasons I was brought in to
redesign it was to have someone strong enough to stand up to this group
because, apparently, every time someone attempted to do something about the
app's usability the trainers would shoot it down by saying that they were
already spending money on training and would take care of the problem by,
you guessed it, more training. Nobody had an incentive to make the app more
usable, since "trainers could take up the slack later."

Let's say that they didn't receive me warmly. :-)

>> Because UCD is infinitely harder to pull off than training?
>
> Can you elaborate more on that? I am not sure if I understand it
> correctly. Wisdom of common sense finds it hard to swallow because
> they argue there will always be training for other marketing reasons -
> enforcing the processes, customer relationship, user satisfaction,
> etc.

Training may have other uses but it shouldn't be a substitute for better
designed apps that, generally speaking, reduce the need for training (on how
to use the app).

At the beginning of the web, I got a lot of flak for pointing out that many
websites (especially large corporate ones) used site maps as a crutch, in
lieu of well-designed navigation systems. I've seen some elaborate graphical
site maps that must have taken more effort to produce than the actual site
navigation.

UCD is harder than training in the sense that a shorter essay is harder to
write than a longer one.:-)

Ziya
Nullius in Verba

1 Nov 2004 - 9:59am
Chick Foxgrover
2003

This question reminds me of my experience that the development of
applications in corporations is often the first impetus to define,
articulate and maybe then reengineer some process or task. And that
this definition takes place concurrently with requirements gathering.
Of course where this all comes together is the time set aside to
introduce the new application along with the new process. So training
may see their goals as being more than teaching an application and
therefore feel at odds with what they see as merely
"usability-theoretical" issues.

Of course this doesn't contradict Ziya's comment. And this is clearly
not an endorsement of the above just something I have witnessed. I see
it as reinforcing Ziya's remarks about the need for the role of the UX
designer and the incorporation of that role into the process from the
beginning when any task is formalized or reengineered and will acquire
an application into process.

-----------------------------------------------------
Chick Foxgrover

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