Rationale for *not* using UCD

23 Jan 2007 - 5:01pm
7 years ago
35 replies
720 reads
Leisa Reichelt
2006

I'm working on a little side project at the moment that involves
collecting as many reasons as I can come across as to why
people/project teams decide not to use User Centred Design
methodologies when designing/developing projects.

We have the obvious ones down (not enough time, not enough money, no
UCD 'expert' on staff), but I'm sure you've come across a lot of more
or less rational explanations for not using UCD.

I'd love to hear them! Pls reply to me offlist (in the interest of
noise reduction!) or leave a comment here: http://tinyurl.com/yoz28r

I'll happily collate and share if you're interested.

many thanks in advance,
Leisa

________________________
Leisa Reichelt
User Experience Consultant

leisa.reichelt at gmail.com
www.disambiguity.com

Comments

23 Jan 2007 - 5:19pm
Daniel Williams
2005

When the developer is the domain expert!?!

On 1/23/07, Leisa Reichelt <leisa.reichelt at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> I'm working on a little side project at the moment that involves
> collecting as many reasons as I can come across as to why
> people/project teams decide not to use User Centred Design
> methodologies when designing/developing projects.
>
> We have the obvious ones down (not enough time, not enough money, no
> UCD 'expert' on staff), but I'm sure you've come across a lot of more
> or less rational explanations for not using UCD.
>
> I'd love to hear them! Pls reply to me offlist (in the interest of
> noise reduction!) or leave a comment here: http://tinyurl.com/yoz28r
>
> I'll happily collate and share if you're interested.
>
> many thanks in advance,
> Leisa
>
> ________________________
> Leisa Reichelt
> User Experience Consultant
>
> leisa.reichelt at gmail.com
> www.disambiguity.com
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
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>

23 Jan 2007 - 5:58pm
Juan Lanus
2005

Leisa,

What do you mean with "not using UCD?"

The ultimate purpose of any system is to support the user's tasks,
whatever those tasks are.
Without user there is no system, and our's is a moot profession!

During many years we built systems that didn't take the users into
account, we programmed for the computers not the people sitting in
front of them.

Sorry for the obviousness: you should make your intention a bit more clear.

Are you speaking of avoiding the formal steps? This can be done if the
system is small and the user is available almost all the time. See the
XP (for Extreme Programming) process, they say don't do the use cases,
have the user available in the next office.

Juan Lanus
TECNOSOL
Argentina

23 Jan 2007 - 9:48pm
CD Evans
2004

There is a whole lot of not using ucd out there in the field, and
until we are honest about it, nothing can be done.

The technology industry is some sort of cash grab war between MSC
folks and MBA folks, there is not a lot of room between them. That is
the current state of the field.

Sorry.
CD Evans

On 1/23/07, Juan Lanus <juan.lanus at gmail.com> wrote:
> Leisa,
>
> What do you mean with "not using UCD?"
>
> The ultimate purpose of any system is to support the user's tasks,
> whatever those tasks are.
> Without user there is no system, and our's is a moot profession!
>
> During many years we built systems that didn't take the users into
> account, we programmed for the computers not the people sitting in
> front of them.
>
> Sorry for the obviousness: you should make your intention a bit more clear.
>
> Are you speaking of avoiding the formal steps? This can be done if the
> system is small and the user is available almost all the time. See the
> XP (for Extreme Programming) process, they say don't do the use cases,
> have the user available in the next office.
>
> Juan Lanus
> TECNOSOL
> Argentina
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
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> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
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>

30 Jan 2007 - 7:55pm
Billie Mandel
2005

A related/corollary question: What software companies are operating
successfully -- right now -- without some kind of UCD/UED in the
beginning of their product development cycle?

Cheers,
- Billie

30 Jan 2007 - 11:42pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

1) 37signals, though one could argue (and some have argued this) that
simply keeping users in mind is all it takes to qualify as a UCD
process.

2) Go Daddy, whose UX team is run by yors truly, and which practices
Activity-Centered Design in an agile programming environment.

The few, select products my team has had the opportunity to completely
overhaul or design from scratch are doing extremely well. If it's not
doing well, or is just barely hanging on, odds are that my team hasn't
touched it. :)

-r-

On 1/30/07, Billie Mandel <billieslists at gmail.com> wrote:
> A related/corollary question: What software companies are operating
> successfully -- right now -- without some kind of UCD/UED in the
> beginning of their product development cycle?
>
> Cheers,
> - Billie
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
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>

1 Feb 2007 - 8:21am
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Jan 30, 2007, at 11:42 PM, Robert Hoekman, Jr. wrote:

> 1) 37signals, though one could argue (and some have argued this) that
> simply keeping users in mind is all it takes to qualify as a UCD
> process.

Not by everyone:

http://www.whybasecampsux.org/

Jared

Jared M. Spool
User Interface Engineering
510 Turnpike St., Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
e: jspool at uie.com p: +1 978 327 5561
http://uie.com Blog: http://uie.com/brainsparks

1 Feb 2007 - 8:24am
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Jan 30, 2007, at 7:55 PM, Billie Mandel wrote:

> A related/corollary question: What software companies are operating
> successfully -- right now -- without some kind of UCD/UED in the
> beginning of their product development cycle?

Many.

Apple.

Many parts of Google.

Many parts of Amazon.

Many parts of Dell.com

Most of the Internet Retailer Magazine top 20 retailers.

I could go on for a very long time.

There is no correlation between effort/resources spent on UCD/UED and
the usability of the results. This is a big problem in the UX world
which, while some of us have been talking about it for 5+ years, is
only now seeing discussion.

Jared

Jared M. Spool
User Interface Engineering
510 Turnpike St., Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
e: jspool at uie.com p: +1 978 327 5561
http://uie.com Blog: http://uie.com/brainsparks

1 Feb 2007 - 8:28am
Adrian Howard
2005

On 1 Feb 2007, at 13:21, Jared M. Spool wrote:

>
> On Jan 30, 2007, at 11:42 PM, Robert Hoekman, Jr. wrote:
>
>> 1) 37signals, though one could argue (and some have argued this) that
>> simply keeping users in mind is all it takes to qualify as a UCD
>> process.
>
> Not by everyone:
>
> http://www.whybasecampsux.org/

True. But I think a more accurate domain would be

www.whybasecamsuxforme.org

:-)

Adrian

1 Feb 2007 - 8:37am
Dave Malouf
2005

> > 1) 37signals, though one could argue (and some have argued
> this) that
> > simply keeping users in mind is all it takes to qualify as a UCD
> > process.
>
> Not by everyone:
>
> http://www.whybasecampsux.org/

Where can I sign up. Functionally, I find basecamp to be useful, but seldom
is it everything I want/need and less times than that is it usable,
engaging, delightful and well just good.

It is cheap and does enough. That's why I keep using it.

-- dave

1 Feb 2007 - 8:37am
Leisa Reichelt
2006

>>There is no correlation between effort/resources spent on UCD/UED
and the usability of the results.

Wow. That's a big call.
How do we know this? Is everyone in agreement with this statement?

________________________
Leisa Reichelt
User Experience Consultant

leisa.reichelt at gmail.com
www.disambiguity.com

1 Feb 2007 - 8:41am
Dave Malouf
2005

> >>There is no correlation between effort/resources spent on UCD/UED
> and the usability of the results.
>
> Wow. That's a big call.
> How do we know this? Is everyone in agreement with this statement?

I think the work done by Adaptive Path on ROI (go to their site to buy the
$400 paper--prices may vary) is really compelling as it speaks less about
ROI of UCD/UED itself and more about applying ROI to UCD/UED and its
success. They said that you cannot determine the ROI of UED--that 5 hrs. of
UED will save you X% on your investment.

Anyone from AP want to clarify.

-- dave

1 Feb 2007 - 9:05am
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Feb 1, 2007, at 8:37 AM, Leisa Reichelt wrote:

>>> There is no correlation between effort/resources spent on UCD/UED
> and the usability of the results.
>
> Wow. That's a big call.
> How do we know this? Is everyone in agreement with this statement?

Of course, everyone is *not* in agreement with this statement.

However, everyone I've encountered who has actually tried to collect
data and measure the results is in agreement with it.

:)

Jared

1 Feb 2007 - 10:13am
Phillip Hunter
2006

Is it not a little more accurate to say that quantifying the correlation is
difficult? Certainly there is correlation.

Also, I suspect, as with most human effort, that a straight and universal
time-to-benefit measure will never be seen. Which also leads me to suspect
that perhaps one day we will be able to know and evaluate all the factors
that should be examined and evaluated to produce estimates of benefit.

ph

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Jared
M. Spool
Sent: Thursday, February 01, 2007 9:05 AM
To: Leisa Reichelt
Cc: discuss Discuss
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Rationale for *not* using UCD

On Feb 1, 2007, at 8:37 AM, Leisa Reichelt wrote:

>>> There is no correlation between effort/resources spent on UCD/UED
> and the usability of the results.
>
> Wow. That's a big call.
> How do we know this? Is everyone in agreement with this statement?

Of course, everyone is *not* in agreement with this statement.

However, everyone I've encountered who has actually tried to collect
data and measure the results is in agreement with it.

:)

Jared

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1 Feb 2007 - 12:29pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> Of course, everyone is *not* in agreement with this statement.
>
> However, everyone I've encountered who has actually tried to collect
> data and measure the results is in agreement with it.

I can vouch for this.

Processes don't make better apps, designers do.

-r-

1 Feb 2007 - 2:02pm
maya gorton
2006

The only reason i can think of to not use UCD is that you want
something done fast and cheap and that -- as the name implies -- your
users are not a priority.

In other words, you have enough money for a programmer but not for an
Interaction Designer, and someone is paying you so you have to deliver
something quickly, even if it's not well thought out before you show
it to the client or launch it.

Some projects require this approach, but I'm sure most people, and
especially those on this list, can tell when UCD isn't used.

I think GoDaddy.com is a great example. I don't mean to offend
anyone, but I've been using them for years and years, and I'm still
confused. That's not to say I haven't seen huge improvements as well,
just that their approach may be what led to the mess that their ID
team now has to sort out.

m

> It is cheap and does enough. That's why I keep using it.
>

1 Feb 2007 - 12:49pm
Todd Moy
2007

Phillip wrote:
> Also, I suspect, as with most human effort, that a straight and universal
> time-to-benefit measure will never be seen. Which also leads me to
suspect
> that perhaps one day we will be able to know and evaluate all the factors
> that should be examined and evaluated to produce estimates of benefit.

The hard part in determining any ROI is that there are many overlapping
contributors: marketing, system development, training, finance, etc. UCD/UED
is just one and it's difficult to extract the benefit it provides from the
mix. There is a plurality of stakeholders and each is able to report the
benefit by casually excluding the others.

Just look at the other thread: "Has anyone succeeded in getting a
usability-only release?" By the responses, it would appear that pure play
usability is uncommon. So in the majority of cases, the ROI / benefit
correlation is going to be tainted if you try to match benefits to
contributors.

Everyone has a hand are in the pot...which isn't a bad thing. Maybe it just
indicates that accepted ROI analysis (NPV in particular) is too singular and
do not account for the orchestration between many players.

[also, my apologies if anyone received this twice. I think I bounced this
post earlier.]

-Todd

On 2/1/07, Robert Hoekman, Jr. <rhoekmanjr at gmail.com> wrote:> Of course,
everyone is *not* in agreement with this statement.
>
> However, everyone I've encountered who has actually tried to collect
> data and measure the results is in agreement with it.

I can vouch for this.

Processes don't make better apps, designers do.

-r-

On 2/1/07, Phillip Hunter <phillip at speechcycle.com> wrote:
>
> Is it not a little more accurate to say that quantifying the correlation
> is
> difficult? Certainly there is correlation.
>
> Also, I suspect, as with most human effort, that a straight and universal
> time-to-benefit measure will never be seen. Which also leads me to
> suspect
> that perhaps one day we will be able to know and evaluate all the factors
> that should be examined and evaluated to produce estimates of benefit.
>
> ph
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
> [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Jared
> M. Spool
> Sent: Thursday, February 01, 2007 9:05 AM
> To: Leisa Reichelt
> Cc: discuss Discuss
> Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Rationale for *not* using UCD
>
>
> On Feb 1, 2007, at 8:37 AM, Leisa Reichelt wrote:
>
> >>> There is no correlation between effort/resources spent on UCD/UED
> > and the usability of the results.
> >
> > Wow. That's a big call.
> > How do we know this? Is everyone in agreement with this statement?
>
> Of course, everyone is *not* in agreement with this statement.
>
> However, everyone I've encountered who has actually tried to collect
> data and measure the results is in agreement with it.
>
> :)
>
> Jared
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
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> ________________________________________________________________
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1 Feb 2007 - 3:12pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> I think GoDaddy.com is a great example. I don't mean to offend
> anyone, but I've been using them for years and years, and I'm still
> confused. That's not to say I haven't seen huge improvements as well,
> just that their approach may be what led to the mess that their ID
> team now has to sort out.

It's true. The UX team has existed for less than a year, and there's a lot
to clean up. :) Previously, everything was "designed" through snap decisions
by programmers. As I said, the few apps we've been able to completely
overhaul or design from scratch are doing very well, but so far it's still
just a drop in the bucket.

-r-

1 Feb 2007 - 3:36pm
Ari
2006

i can't speak for godaddy but a lot of companies design along those lines to
get people to take action. i used to work for columbia house.com back in the
day when they still had millions of customers.

they designed their site not to look good or be usable but to get you to buy
or join. it worked. they had 40 years of history and research about color
and placements of offers.

there's sometimes reasons for the chaos.

On 2/1/07, Robert Hoekman, Jr. <rhoekmanjr at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > I think GoDaddy.com is a great example. I don't mean to offend
> > anyone, but I've been using them for years and years, and I'm still
> > confused. That's not to say I haven't seen huge improvements as well,
> > just that their approach may be what led to the mess that their ID
> > team now has to sort out.
>
>
> It's true. The UX team has existed for less than a year, and there's a lot
> to clean up. :) Previously, everything was "designed" through snap
> decisions
> by programmers. As I said, the few apps we've been able to completely
> overhaul or design from scratch are doing very well, but so far it's still
> just a drop in the bucket.
>
> -r-
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
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>

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----------------------------------------------------------------
http://www.flyingyogi.com

1 Feb 2007 - 5:18pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Feb 1, 2007, at 2:02 PM, maya gorton wrote:

> The only reason i can think of to not use UCD is that you want
> something done fast and cheap and that -- as the name implies -- your
> users are not a priority.

The other reason to not use UCD is that you have the skills and
talents necessary to produce a great design without it. Turns out,
those skills and talents exist.

For the record, I don't have them. But I've met several people who
do. And I've come to the conclusion that bogging them down with UCD
doesn't improve their results.

Along the same lines, just because you use UCD doesn't mean you
produce a great design. By any stretch of the imagination. (One need
to look no further than Redmond...)

Jared

1 Feb 2007 - 5:21pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Feb 1, 2007, at 10:13 AM, Phillip Hunter wrote:

> Is it not a little more accurate to say that quantifying the
> correlation is
> difficult? Certainly there is correlation.

Quantifying the correlation is easy. You measure the amount of
resources consumed by UCD. You measure the relative usability,
consumer satisfaction, or customer engagement (your pick -- doesn't
matter for the measures) of the resulting products. You plot the chart.

What you get is a scattergram with no clear correlative line. (The
correlative line would be points clustering on the line itself,
showing the more spent on UCD, the more the output measures increase.)

Jared

1 Feb 2007 - 6:43pm
Doug Murray
2005

>>> "Ari Feldman" <ari1970 at gmail.com> 2/1/2007 1:36 PM >>>
<snip> i used to work for columbia house.com back in the
day when they still had millions of customers.
<snip>

Perhaps they might still HAVE millions of customers if they payed attention to
those customers.
Just a thought...

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1 Feb 2007 - 7:10pm
Ari
2006

well, they were very old school and conservative. CH is a club marketer.
they made more money off getting new customers than keeping them. damn bean
counters.

anyway, i merely used them as an example of how some companies ignore UI
theory for the quick buck.

On 2/1/07, Doug Murray <MurrayDB at ldschurch.org> wrote:
>
> >>> "Ari Feldman" <ari1970 at gmail.com> 2/1/2007 1:36 PM >>>
> <snip> i used to work for columbia house.com back in the
> day when they still had millions of customers.
> <snip>
>
> Perhaps they might still HAVE millions of customers if they payed
> attention to
> those customers.
> Just a thought...
>
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> NOTICE: This email message is for the sole use of the intended
> recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged information. Any
> unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited. If you
> are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply email and
> destroy all copies of the original message.
>

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1 Feb 2007 - 8:50pm
Phillip Hunter
2006

Jared,

That seems a bit simplistic relative to the quality of the resources, the
methods used, the quality of the effort, the information available, etc. If
your view is the case, why should the majority of us design? You seem to be
indicating that design success results from either singular talent or
blind-squirrel luck. The rest of us flail, hoping we're the next squirrel.

If I apply your reasoning to, say, sports, then only talent or freak
occurrences correlate to success. No amount of time spent practicing,
observing, planning, or training predicts it. Yet every decent kid league
coach knows that is untrue. While certainly not every dedicated athlete
reaches a pinnacle of their sport, and certainly some gifted athletes have
to practice, observe, plan, and train less, there is a strong correlation
between these activities and significant success, given a base level of
talent/aptitude.

I believe that to be true for interaction design. I believe that as we grow
the study and practice, tangible and measurable and purposeful inputs will
begin to be clearly correlated to successful outputs. We will find our own
set of "fundamentals" to build on. Sure, inspiration and unique
perspectives and riding fad-waves will still produce effects that have us
shaking our heads, but there will be a day where consistent application of
known concepts by skilled professionals will yield dependable results. And
it won't come down to 100 hours = 2.5% increase in user satisfaction. And I
argue that almost nothing does.

ph

-----Original Message-----
From: Jared M. Spool [mailto:jspool at uie.com]
Sent: Thursday, February 01, 2007 5:22 PM
To: phillip at speechcycle.com
Cc: 'discuss Discuss'
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Rationale for *not* using UCD

On Feb 1, 2007, at 10:13 AM, Phillip Hunter wrote:

> Is it not a little more accurate to say that quantifying the
> correlation is
> difficult? Certainly there is correlation.

Quantifying the correlation is easy. You measure the amount of
resources consumed by UCD. You measure the relative usability,
consumer satisfaction, or customer engagement (your pick -- doesn't
matter for the measures) of the resulting products. You plot the chart.

What you get is a scattergram with no clear correlative line. (The
correlative line would be points clustering on the line itself,
showing the more spent on UCD, the more the output measures increase.)

Jared

1 Feb 2007 - 9:09pm
Donna Maurer
2003

There is a huge difference between using a formal, defined UCD process
and being user-centred.

Many of my little projects don't have a formal UCD element (I don't do
ethnography, make personas, write scenarios, do participatory design
sessions or usability test) but that doesn't mean I don't know anything
about the users or think about them. And it doesn't mean the result is
awful. Sometimes it is truly not worth the effort.

E.g I bet most of the bloggers here didn't do a UCD process before
starting. I bet you set up and started writing ;) And it doesn't mean
your blogs are unusable...

Donna

maya gorton wrote:
> The only reason i can think of to not use UCD is that you want
> something done fast and cheap and that -- as the name implies -- your
> users are not a priority.
>
>

--
Donna Maurer
Maadmob Interaction Design
e: donna at maadmob.net
web: http://maadmob.net/maadmob_id/
book: http://rosenfeldmedia.com/books/cardsorting/

1 Feb 2007 - 9:55pm
Steve Baty
2009

I think a lot more people use an informal user-centred design approach than
the formal UCD methods written about in books. I know Donna does the
occasional piece of user research, for example, and I know that to her the
usefulness of the end result is paramount. And without being anything close
to an expert on the distinctions, an activity-centred approach must in some
way be inspired by the end users who will be performing those activities,
whether that inspiration is explicit or tacit.

So my question back to Leisa is: what do you mean by UCD methodologies and
is there some specific criteria you have in mind for what qualifies an
approach to be or not to be UCD?

On 02/02/07, Donna Maurer <donnam at maadmob.net> wrote:
>
> There is a huge difference between using a formal, defined UCD process
> and being user-centred.
>
> Many of my little projects don't have a formal UCD element (I don't do
> ethnography, make personas, write scenarios, do participatory design
> sessions or usability test) but that doesn't mean I don't know anything
> about the users or think about them. And it doesn't mean the result is
> awful. Sometimes it is truly not worth the effort.
>
> E.g I bet most of the bloggers here didn't do a UCD process before
> starting. I bet you set up and started writing ;) And it doesn't mean
> your blogs are unusable...
>
> Donna
>
> ----------------------------------------------
Steve 'Doc' Baty B.Sc (Maths), M.EC, MBA
Director, User Experience Strategy
Red Square
P: +612 8289 4930
M: +61 417 061 292

Member, UPA - www.upassoc.org
Member, IxDA - www.ixda.org
Member, Web Standards Group - www.webstandardsgroup.org

1 Feb 2007 - 10:05pm
dszuc
2005

Its easy to look into an organisation from the outside and make snap calls
on their products & service design.

There are *host of reasons* why end products/services may not offer the UX
nirvana (taking into account different forms of : design team, process,
management buy in, tools, technology, culture, size of company, products,
communications etc).

Adding 1 or 2 or 3 ingredients etc will not promise great UX design. This is
what I find interesting & worthy of further discussion. Perhaps there is no
secret sauce?

"Ted Arroway: Small moves, Ellie, small moves." (Contact - 1997) -
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118884/quotes

Rgds,

Daniel Szuc
Principal Usability Consultant
Apogee Usability Asia Ltd
www.apogeehk.com
'Usability in Asia'

The Usability Toolkit - http://www.sitepoint.com/books/usability1/

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Robert
Hoekman, Jr.
Sent: Friday, February 02, 2007 4:12 AM
To: maya gorton
Cc: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Rationale for *not* using UCD

> I think GoDaddy.com is a great example. I don't mean to offend
> anyone, but I've been using them for years and years, and I'm still
> confused. That's not to say I haven't seen huge improvements as well,
> just that their approach may be what led to the mess that their ID
> team now has to sort out.

It's true. The UX team has existed for less than a year, and there's a lot
to clean up. :) Previously, everything was "designed" through snap decisions
by programmers. As I said, the few apps we've been able to completely
overhaul or design from scratch are doing very well, but so far it's still
just a drop in the bucket.

-r- ________________________________________________________________
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2 Feb 2007 - 2:38am
cfmdesigns
2004

On Feb 1, 2007, at 2:21 PM, Jared M. Spool wrote:

>
> On Feb 1, 2007, at 10:13 AM, Phillip Hunter wrote:
>
>> Is it not a little more accurate to say that quantifying the
>> correlation is
>> difficult? Certainly there is correlation.
>
> Quantifying the correlation is easy. You measure the amount of
> resources consumed by UCD. You measure the relative usability,
> consumer satisfaction, or customer engagement (your pick -- doesn't
> matter for the measures) of the resulting products. You plot the
> chart.
>
> What you get is a scattergram with no clear correlative line. (The
> correlative line would be points clustering on the line itself,
> showing the more spent on UCD, the more the output measures increase.)

The more spent on UCD with respect to what, though? Absolute
dollars? Dollar per schedule day? Dollars per man hour over the
entire team? Weighted based on where it occurs in the cycle, or the
development type (extreme, agile, waterfall)? Weighted based on the
skill level of the designers, or that of the programmers and testers?

There is probably little or no observable correlation because there
are too many variables amongst the myriad projects you could get data
from. That doesn't mean there is no correlation (nor that there is
one), only that you haven't seen one.

I would say that it's probably true that at some point, there's a
decrease in the additional benefit from adding more UCD into the
mix. As a corollary to that, there may also be a point before which
there's isn't much added benefit, either: you have to throw enough to
money/time/people to make an observable effect beyond that which the
rest of the team will supply just from their own best practices.

-- Jim

2 Feb 2007 - 3:17am
Donna Maurer
2003

So I was thinking about this some more, and Steve is right in that I do
do user research (actually, full UCD) and I discovered my patterns in
when I do and don't.

Do:
- when someone pays me (hehe)
- when the project is big, important, high risk or impacts a lot of
people's daily lives
- when I genuinely don't know about the domain
- when I'm mentoring or using a project as an exemplar

Don't:
- when the overall impact on life is reasonably low
- when I am a user
- when I have some informal ability to learn about users
- when I have an easy connection to users
- when I'm working on something I can change rapidly

My don't example is the IA Summit website, which I've been buried in for
the last month (and further, the whole conference). I didn't do any
formal UCD, but I have spent the last 3 conferences doing informal
research, have a close connection to a large number of users, have set
up a good underlying structure, and can make changes pretty quickly...

Donna

Doc wrote:
> I think a lot more people use an informal user-centred design approach
> than the formal UCD methods written about in books. I know Donna does
> the occasional piece of user research, for example, and I know that to
> her the usefulness of the end result is paramount. And without being
> anything close to an expert on the distinctions, an activity-centred
> approach must in some way be inspired by the end users who will be
> performing those activities, whether that inspiration is explicit or
> tacit.
>
> So my question back to Leisa is: what do you mean by UCD methodologies
> and is there some specific criteria you have in mind for what
> qualifies an approach to be or not to be UCD?
>
> <http://www.webstandardsgroup.org>

--
Donna Maurer
Maadmob Interaction Design
e: donna at maadmob.net
web: http://maadmob.net/maadmob_id/
book: http://rosenfeldmedia.com/books/cardsorting/

2 Feb 2007 - 7:13pm
Peter Merholz
2004

I honestly don't get what this discussion is all about.

UCD is an approach. A way of solving a problem. But it's clearly not
the only way.

At Adaptive Path, we have a principle for our practice:
"More than anything else, our practice is focused on delivering
results that satisfy the customer and meet their needs. This is true
across all our lines of business.

(Adaptive Path, contrary to popular conception, is not a "user-
centered design company." User-centered design is only one way to go
about approaching our projects.)"

There are many design problems where UCD is not suitable. We've done
many projects without UCD, and where we delivered good design. We've
done many projects with UCD.

For us, the primary reason to engage in UCD is when engaging with a
domain that we're simply not familiar with. UCD helps us get inside
the heads of the users for whom we're designing.

We've opted out of UCD for projects where we're personally intimately
familiar with the domain. For our work designing the Soundflavor
application and website
<http://www.adaptivepath.com/publications/essays/archives/000679.php>
we were the users. We have large music collections and need help in
managing them. We don't need to go to users for insight in how to
design such a tool. We can draw inspiration from our experiences.

Also, regarding Jared's study, I don't understand why people are so
up-in-arms with his findings. Frankly, it makes all the sense in the
world to me that there's no correlation between investment in UCD
practice and success in delivering usable product. This has less to
do with UCD practice, and everything to do with organizational
behavior and psychology.

--peter

2 Feb 2007 - 11:58pm
ychisik
2006

Peter,

I agree with what you say but I would add that UCD is a philosophy as well
as a methodology.

You say "We've opted out of UCD for projects where we're personally
intimately familiar with the domain." But I would argue that you have not
opted out of UCD as much as skipped a number of the preliminary stages
(contextual inquiry, etc.)

UCD requires understanding of the domain from the user perspective and as
you said in cases where sufficient knowledge exists that one can proceed
with the design while adhering to the philosophy.

The question should not be whether or not we want to use UCD but how do we
determine we have sufficient knowledge to proceed either at the outset of
the design or if we have decided to engage in some inquiries during the
inquiry process.

Yoram

*************************************
Yoram Chisik
DCD candidate and sandwich maker extraordinaire
UB - School of Information Arts and Technologies
Free advice and opinions - refunds available.
http://iat.ubalt.edu/chisik

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Peter
Merholz
Sent: 02 February 2007 19:13
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Rationale for *not* using UCD

I honestly don't get what this discussion is all about.

UCD is an approach. A way of solving a problem. But it's clearly not
the only way.

At Adaptive Path, we have a principle for our practice:
"More than anything else, our practice is focused on delivering
results that satisfy the customer and meet their needs. This is true
across all our lines of business.

(Adaptive Path, contrary to popular conception, is not a "user-
centered design company." User-centered design is only one way to go
about approaching our projects.)"

There are many design problems where UCD is not suitable. We've done
many projects without UCD, and where we delivered good design. We've
done many projects with UCD.

For us, the primary reason to engage in UCD is when engaging with a
domain that we're simply not familiar with. UCD helps us get inside
the heads of the users for whom we're designing.

We've opted out of UCD for projects where we're personally intimately
familiar with the domain. For our work designing the Soundflavor
application and website
<http://www.adaptivepath.com/publications/essays/archives/000679.php>
we were the users. We have large music collections and need help in
managing them. We don't need to go to users for insight in how to
design such a tool. We can draw inspiration from our experiences.

Also, regarding Jared's study, I don't understand why people are so
up-in-arms with his findings. Frankly, it makes all the sense in the
world to me that there's no correlation between investment in UCD
practice and success in delivering usable product. This has less to
do with UCD practice, and everything to do with organizational
behavior and psychology.

--peter
________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
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3 Feb 2007 - 2:31pm
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

"Just look at the other thread: "Has anyone succeeded in getting a
usability-only release? By the responses, it would appear that pure play
usability is uncommon. "

I think the usability-mostly releases happen fairly often. At the last
company I have worked for this moment of revelation has come when VP of
Product Development has uttered:¨"We have the product for ´Power Users´. In
the next release we need to focus on making it accessible to ´Regular
Users´." Because non-´Power Users´ constitute about 90% of the market
and this is where the money are.

It happens whenever industry goes through that notorious
´technology-to-commodity´ switch.

--
Oleh Kovalchuke
Interaction Design is Design of Time
http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm

On 2/1/07, Todd Moy <oombrella at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> Phillip wrote:
> > Also, I suspect, as with most human effort, that a straight and
> universal
> > time-to-benefit measure will never be seen. Which also leads me to
> suspect
> > that perhaps one day we will be able to know and evaluate all the
> factors
> > that should be examined and evaluated to produce estimates of benefit.
>
> The hard part in determining any ROI is that there are many overlapping
> contributors: marketing, system development, training, finance, etc.
> UCD/UED
> is just one and it's difficult to extract the benefit it provides from the
> mix. There is a plurality of stakeholders and each is able to report the
> benefit by casually excluding the others.
>
> Just look at the other thread: "Has anyone succeeded in getting a
> usability-only release?" By the responses, it would appear that pure play
> usability is uncommon. So in the majority of cases, the ROI / benefit
> correlation is going to be tainted if you try to match benefits to
> contributors.
>
> Everyone has a hand are in the pot...which isn't a bad thing. Maybe it
> just
> indicates that accepted ROI analysis (NPV in particular) is too singular
> and
> do not account for the orchestration between many players.
>
> [also, my apologies if anyone received this twice. I think I bounced this
> post earlier.]
>
> -Todd
>
> On 2/1/07, Robert Hoekman, Jr. <rhoekmanjr at gmail.com> wrote:> Of course,
> everyone is *not* in agreement with this statement.
> >
> > However, everyone I've encountered who has actually tried to collect
> > data and measure the results is in agreement with it.
>
>
> I can vouch for this.
>
> Processes don't make better apps, designers do.
>
> -r-
>
> On 2/1/07, Phillip Hunter <phillip at speechcycle.com> wrote:
> >
> > Is it not a little more accurate to say that quantifying the correlation
> > is
> > difficult? Certainly there is correlation.
> >
> > Also, I suspect, as with most human effort, that a straight and
> universal
> > time-to-benefit measure will never be seen. Which also leads me to
> > suspect
> > that perhaps one day we will be able to know and evaluate all the
> factors
> > that should be examined and evaluated to produce estimates of benefit.
> >
> > ph
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
> > [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
> Jared
> > M. Spool
> > Sent: Thursday, February 01, 2007 9:05 AM
> > To: Leisa Reichelt
> > Cc: discuss Discuss
> > Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Rationale for *not* using UCD
> >
> >
> > On Feb 1, 2007, at 8:37 AM, Leisa Reichelt wrote:
> >
> > >>> There is no correlation between effort/resources spent on UCD/UED
> > > and the usability of the results.
> > >
> > > Wow. That's a big call.
> > > How do we know this? Is everyone in agreement with this statement?
> >
> > Of course, everyone is *not* in agreement with this statement.
> >
> > However, everyone I've encountered who has actually tried to collect
> > data and measure the results is in agreement with it.
> >
> > :)
> >
> > Jared
> >
> >
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
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> >
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
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> >
>
>
>
>
>
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
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> >
> ________________________________________________________________
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>

3 Feb 2007 - 11:58pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Feb 1, 2007, at 8:50 PM, Phillip Hunter wrote:

> That seems a bit simplistic relative to the quality of the
> resources, the
> methods used, the quality of the effort, the information available,
> etc. If
> your view is the case, why should the majority of us design? You
> seem to be
> indicating that design success results from either singular talent or
> blind-squirrel luck.

I'm not saying that at all.

I'm saying that corporate investment in UCD doesn't guarantee
improvement and improvement often comes without any investment in UCD.

What I'm not saying, but implying, is that there may be other things
that produce improvement and that UCD may be placebic.

Think of the stone in the story about stone soup. http://tinyurl.com/
3xm9b3

If UCD is the stone, then we are the traveller. The difference
between us and the traveller in the story is the traveller doesn't
actually believe the stone makes soup.

Jared

5 Feb 2007 - 12:08am
Phillip Hunter
2006

>"There is no correlation between effort/resources spent on UCD/UED and the
usability of the results."

>"...there may be other things that produce improvement and that UCD may be
placebic."

This follow-up is a strong statement. It further implies to me that most
design research and some design tasks are always a waste of time. I
certainly have seen some research and tasks that are. And I have certainly
seen them done by people that turn the research and tasks into wastes of
time, but are you saying that some or most of them are?

Or, by analogizing with the stone soup story, are you saying you see a
catalytic link between design methods and the subsequent actions of the
teams involved that in turn lead to a better result? If so, why point to
the catalyst as having no correlation to the result?

But if the former is your point, and we are not blind squirrels, then what
tasks do reliably, correlatably, make a difference?

I apologize for dragging this out, but as someone who passionately believes
that the right design process performed by the right people in the right way
makes a difference that can and needs to be measured, I want to understand
what seems to be a different view.

ph

7 Feb 2007 - 6:27pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Feb 4, 2007, at 9:08 PM, Phillip Hunter wrote:

>> "There is no correlation between effort/resources spent on UCD/UED
>> and the
> usability of the results."
>
>> "...there may be other things that produce improvement and that
>> UCD may be
> placebic."
>
> This follow-up is a strong statement. It further implies to me
> that most
> design research and some design tasks are always a waste of time. I
> certainly have seen some research and tasks that are. And I have
> certainly
> seen them done by people that turn the research and tasks into
> wastes of
> time, but are you saying that some or most of them are?
>
> Or, by analogizing with the stone soup story, are you saying you see a
> catalytic link between design methods and the subsequent actions of
> the
> teams involved that in turn lead to a better result? If so, why
> point to
> the catalyst as having no correlation to the result?
>
> But if the former is your point, and we are not blind squirrels,
> then what
> tasks do reliably, correlatably, make a difference?
>
> I apologize for dragging this out, but as someone who passionately
> believes
> that the right design process performed by the right people in the
> right way
> makes a difference that can and needs to be measured, I want to
> understand
> what seems to be a different view.

I didn't say "most design research and some design tasks are always a
waste of time."

I said there was no correlation.

Do no confuse "no correlation" with a "negative correlation."

No correlation means that sometimes we see positive result, but some
times we don't. It also means we can't predict when we will see a
positive result.

I was also very specific in referring to UCD, which has specific
meaning. There are alternative design research methods and design
approaches that aren't generally considered UCD. I wouldn't bundle
them into this statement.

My reference to the Stone Soup folk tale is to suggest that there may
be benefits to our involvement in projects that extend beyond the
specific methods (the "stone") themselves. Maybe there are things
independent of our actions which are actually the catalysts, as you
put it.

We may see no correlation because sometimes the catalyst doesn't have
any effect. If we don't really know what causes usable designs, then
we can't explain why what we do sometimes works and sometimes doesn't.

The point of this is we don't know what the "right design process"
is, who the "right people" are, or what the "right way" should be.
Until we do, your desire to have "the right design process performed
by the right people in the right way" will probably not manifest
success in any repeatable, manageable way.

This is why we need more research and not be so quick to condemn
those who aren't doing things "the right way." They may actually be
getting better results on average than we do.

Jared

8 Feb 2007 - 2:42pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

This is why we need more research and not be so quick to condemn
> those who aren't doing things "the right way." They may actually be
> getting better results on average than we do.

I think Jared is defending me. ;)

-r-

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