How are you changing the (design) process?

20 Oct 2009 - 1:56pm
6 years ago
2 replies
1435 reads
Jay Morgan

Hey IxDA'ers,
This quote was influential and inspiring when I first encountered HCI in

"Usability is not only about improving the quality of the products, but also
improving the quality of the process by which products are made."
- Rough quote from _A Practical Guide to Usability Testing_ by Ginny Redish
& Joseph Dumas, 1999

What have you all done to improve the quality of the process?
Were you successful? How do you gauge that success?
How did you get into making that improvement? With whom did you partner?

Personally, I've taken on a few demons of corporate culture to make such
improvements. They were at times torturous, at times primally exhilarating.
I've done enterprise personas, built a digital (Morae-based) usability lab
in corporate HQ, launched a design pattern library for an enterprise and
their external agency partners. Not chest-pounding, but sharing my
experience because I know - and still am haunted by? - the mistakes,
mis-steps, and compromises made along the way.

Success? ... I know most of those tools and others I've done far undershoot
my expectations for success. Some of this because no one took them on as
life-long causes (myself included), and because in many ways the host wasn't
ready for the transplant, so to speak.

How? What partners? ... In almost all cases, I picked up the ball and
started running with it to start the game. In each case, I had to abide by,
bend, break, or disregard rules, norms, limits, constraints and other
bureaucratic barriers. In each case, I had to partner with or work with many
other players and win the favor of an executive.

I think I'll always pursue big projects like this - whether for my employer
or our clients - and I'm looking for other stories.

Many thanks,

Jay A. Morgan
Director, UX at Gage


21 Oct 2009 - 2:34am

As an interaction designer I can't say that I have improved usability through improved processes - yet.

However, as I've become increasingly aware that product quality is a more or less direct result of organisational process quality, I am intrigued by the quote from Ginny Redish & Joseph Dumas, and very excited about the responses here.


22 Oct 2009 - 2:57pm
Dave Fleming

Really fun topic to talk about, especially if you are a process wonk
like me!

Personally, one of the most helpful resources for UX process and
industry insights has always come from Alan Cooper, author of THE
referred to as the Godfather of Visual Basic, and the Godfather of
Personas. The chief reason that I mention him has everything to do
with learning from the people that have been butting heads much
longer that we have. There are a wealth of great articles on that provide a lot of stories on this topic.

Another way that I believe UX leaders can help foster change and
promote process innovation is by establishing a vibrant discourse on
UX within your own organization - opening up discussions around what
works the best for you, why and how - and many other topics too long
to list here. I realize that in some working environments there is an
overwhelming amount of normal work to be done that we hardly have the
time to dive into this sort of commitment. But it's good to think
visualize what could happen and would might work well. Will it help
to build a wiki to share resources and discussion? Will the working
culture buy into it? What will help us succeed in circling all the
other wagons? I don't have any clear answers there, but I believe
that many answers can be found in promoting objective collaboration
and being open and prepared to listen to the experience of others.

An interesting read on how some people are using innovation to open
up some fresh perspectives and have fun at the same time:

Lastly, another resource that I want to mention is Brandon Schauer of
Adaptive Path. I think it's important for us to keep informed by
learning more from some of the most progressive people out there.
Here are some of his latest ideas:
9 Experiences for 2009

Thanks Jay!
Dave Fleming,
UXA, IxD, Mobile UI & Social Media Consulting
xshapes at gmail dot com

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