what makes usability successful in organizations?

9 Aug 2006 - 3:56pm
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What is it about some organizations who have gotten usability right versus
others who have tried and failed? Is it the corporate culture and justifying
usability's existence? Is it the misunderstanding of user-centric design
with other 'marketing' models? What about the political issues or working
with engineers?

In my experience, the difference in 'culture' between usability
engineers/interaction designers and the technical engineering team has been
the greatest hurdle for successful usability integration. Sure, you can be
implementing a very thought model (Mayhew's engineering lifecycle comes to
mind) but that doesnt stop the fighting, lack of information flow, or
cooperation for either side. And yes, it is both sides -- not just the
engineers -- who either dont put forth the effort to collaborate/cooperate,
or try to take over a project.

Is it communication? Psychologists and designers come from a different end of
the scale than programmers. Sometimes we dont understand each other or can
communicate effectively.

Is it lack of information? Are usability engineers and designers not
providing the right information to developers? We can give them personas and
wireframes and powerpoint slides depicting usability issues, but it seems
like it can be too little to too much.

Is it poor collaboration? How often do you see the development team going in
one direction and the designers going in another? Sometimes they dont seem
to want to work together and the integration of key changes takes longer and
is more expensive

Is it lack of management? Perhaps there needs to be a strong project leader
versed in both design and software. A manager of either side might
inherently fight more for one side than the other, creating disgruntled
[other party].

Generally to sum everything up from my experience -- when usability goes bad
its because engineers don't like us, but why? What are some key things that
should be watched for in order to maintain a happy usability culture, and
happy coworkers?


Celeste 'seele' Paul

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