'R&D' vs. 'mainline' design & usability

12 Apr 2006 - 10:13am
8 years ago
2 replies
519 reads
bhekking
2006

Hello -

Do you have similar experience you can share? I'm a solo usability practitioner
responsible for both analysis and design for a small software company. I'm
getting mixed signals about what my priorities should be, especially because we
are simultaneously dedicating lots of resources to pure selling, and to
improving what customers already use. So, my time is being divided between the
needs of our pre-sales team and development.

My question is - how common is this? I had imagined that improving the core
product for current customers (rather than wowing prospects with slick demos)
would be my domain - but it's not at all clear. Actually, the 'r&d' team seems
to appreciate my help more than mainline development does.

Have others had to deal with these issues?

Thanks,
Bret Hekking

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Comments

12 Apr 2006 - 1:28pm
Michael Micheletti
2006

Hi Bret,

I swim in similar waters in our small software company. What I've
noticed is that strong visual interface design and easily doable
usability improvements get a big response and lots of encouragement. It
genuinely delights developers when I reskin an app so the buttons and
lights all look just so, and while this is going on I have opportunity
for usability upgrades and quick tests. As a result, the awareness of
design is growing in our company, and this helps our software and
development processes improve.

One thing you might consider if you're a scarce resource is asking a
manager or project manager to act as your agent. Incoming projects that
take more than a couple hours need your agent's ok before they get to
you - this weeds out some of the fluffy stuff. Your manager may be happy
to act in this role - mine have always been - and you'll have help
setting priorities. Good luck,

Michael Micheletti

-----Original Message-----
>I'm getting mixed signals about what my priorities should be,
especially because we are simultaneously
>dedicating lots of resources to pure selling, and to improving what
customers already use. So, my time is
>being divided between the needs of our pre-sales team and development.
>Have others had to deal with these issues?
>Thanks,
>Bret Hekking

12 Apr 2006 - 2:23pm
cfmdesigns
2004

One project I was on recently, we got a breakdown from program management as to what percentages should be allocated on creating new stuff, amping up existing stuff, working on the platform infrastucture, and fixing bugs. (This was for the entire team, design through QA.) In some ways, this was very good, because it gave some clear direction as to what was important for the project: we needed to spend less than half the time creating new stuff, and 1/5 the time fixing the things we left broken, and another fifth improving the things we didn't get done right the first time.

(Or that's the theory, anyway. In practice, those numbers never get held to strictly, and sometimes not even loosely.)

A breakdown like that might help your resource allocation.

-- Jim Drew
Seattle, WA

-----Original Message-----
>From: Bret Hekking <bhekking at yahoo.com>
>
>I'm a solo usability practitioner
>responsible for both analysis and design for a small software company. I'm
>getting mixed signals about what my priorities should be, especially because we
>are simultaneously dedicating lots of resources to pure selling, and to
>improving what customers already use. So, my time is being divided between the
>needs of our pre-sales team and development.
>
>My question is - how common is this? I had imagined that improving the core
>product for current customers (rather than wowing prospects with slick demos)
>would be my domain - but it's not at all clear. Actually, the 'r&d' team seems
>to appreciate my help more than mainline development does.

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