Usability is a Business ProblemSubmitted by admin on Sat, 10/02/2004 - 04:52 Posted in
Usability is typically thought of as a function of site maintenance, design improvement or Quality Assurance. These are all tactical issues, and indeed usability does address project management level changes.
But usability is not just a tactical issue. Threere is a more important function of usability in an IS, IT or development environment: usability as a business tool. We view usability as a means to improving business strategy and results.
Some of the benefits of usability that relate to solving business problems with a website, application or product include:
- Increasing customer retention
- Increasing customer conversion
- Lowering customer acquisition costs
- Improving productivity/ work quality
- Reaching new market segments or improving CRM investments
- Increasing the ROI of a Content Management System installation
- Increasing market share and shareholder value
- Competitive differentiation through "customer experience"
How do you identify the business needs of your project? How does a dropdown menu or a navigation bar relate to issues the business team focus on? To answer these questions we start all our engagements by asking some of the tough business questions up front.
Before we look at improving a design, we conduct a brief but comprehensive business and user objectives audit to determine what the business needs are across the organization. Our intention is to leverage the views and issues of stakeholders across the organization. Often we have clients tell us that the information we ask them to uncover has never been written down in one place before and that the process is extremely valuable.
Knowing what target we are shooting at, we then map the business needs onto the usability expert review, usability testing or user needs analysis to produce the requirements that make up a User Interface Design specification. Design reviews can quickly help you determine how severely you are not fulfilling business and user's needs. Usability testing can help you understand exactly how your users interpret the design and how successful you and they will be. Field studies give the insight into what your user's goals and tasks are in the first place, before you design them.
These design reviews, field studies and usability tests give you behavioral requirements that make up what your users will actually do with your site. It adds a little extra work at the start of the development cycle but having a thorough User Interface Design specification can save a vast amount of time, confusion and effort later down the development path (see case studies in the book Cost Justifying Usability).
We like to think of business objectives as an essential part of due diligence. Think of your business objectives as the driving force behind your website or product. Without them there would be no users. We help you go from defining your business objectives to helping you represent a user experience that will achieve those business results.
Some of the measurable business results we regularly achieve with usability strategy include:
- Improving product strategy
- Increasing sales volume
- Increasing ad effectiveness and creating stronger ad impressions
- Increasing customer value
- Lowering development costs and design updates
- Impacting the balance of business and user objectives
Contact us and find out how we can help you improve your usability today.