Consultants & “The Secret”

A quote following Marty Carroll’s recent experience at a client/vendor roundtable discussion. (Foviance, Feb 2007 Newsletter)

One question was whether there is such a thing as a ‘textbook’ defining best practice web design. E-Consultancy’s own research found that there were as many as 11 different ways that online shops ask people to enter the validation code on the back of their credit card. Clients wanted to know if anyone had defined the ‘right answers’ to such process design challenges.

Some people seemed to want something for nothing: they were asking the usability agencies to put their research into the public domain, on a centralised web-site. But that is problematic because there is rarely a universal right answer to design questions. Best practice depends on the client, its goals and its user base. Publishing results from tests with other sites could lead to misleading conclusions when the conclusions are misapplied elsewhere.

Some clients also failed to appreciate the expense involved in acquiring research results, which would make it bad business to give them away. Foviance hires psychology and human factors graduates, and we need to be able to charge for our services so that we can continue the good work we do. Certification in the industry might help the industry to appreciate the skill-set of usability professionals.

I hope Martyn won’t mind me using this, I think he actually balances relatively well the issue of Consultants, their Expertise and the Value of that Expertise, so I don’t mean this to be a personal critique of his views… and yes I am about to rant a little… it’s just that his comments made me think…. (always trouble)

If you have been hanging around (I’m sorry… doing your hard research work) on the internet recently and have strayed into anything remotely personal development like (not that you’re easily distracted) then you will have no doubt encountered teasers for “The Secret”. The near film-like “documentary” that purports to reveal the “secret” that millenia of privileged people have been keeping from us… (notice the implication that we are not so privileged… hmmm) yes… THE ANSWER… has been around all the time and it turns out that a few people have been keeping it to themselves for their own gain. cheeky buggers…
does any of this sound familiar (even if you’re not interested in personal enlightenment)?…

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Define “The Real World” in less than 10 words

I’m going to link you straight to the source on this one, it’s not directly from a UX source, nor is it trying to be and yet it seems strangely relevant… get lost in the comments for a while as you try to work out exactly how you would define that most elusive of environments we all try to design for “The real world”….

37Signals Blog – Define the Real World

UIE:- Five Usability Challenges of Web-Based Applications

Five Usability Challenges of Web-Based Applications

Web-based applications present usability challenges we don’t often see in
other types of designs. These challenges need to be top-of-mind as the design
team creates, updates, and maintains the application.

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