Easy is good but it is not enough


Usability is marginalized in many organizations owing to time constraints, lack of a clear definition, ignorance and more. But the greatest obstacle to usability is that too many decision makers aren’t interested in it. A study of marketing directors by e-consultancy found that most of them had no idea about usability or its importance in ensuring that their websites actually delivered business benefit.

Tom Stewart highlights the trap we’re getting into.

Easy is good but it is not enough. Focusing on ‘easy’ tends to marginalize it.

In today’s competitive times, I can see an IT project manager saying “we would have liked to make the new billing system a bit easier but we really didn’t have time and we did not want to delay it”.

I can see a hard pressed business manager saying “ok, it would have been nice but we didn’t want to wait”.

However, if you use the ISO 9241-11 definition, the picture changes. Can you honestly imagine the project manager saying (out loud) “We know the system is not going to work but we wanted to be able to tick the ‘delivered on time’ box?”

And can you imagine the customer saying, “Ok, it would have been nice if it had worked but we’d rather pay for a failed system than take a bit longer getting it right?” No, of course you can’t!
Similarly, the ISO concept of usability allows aesthetic issues to be addressed, if they are important to the user.

There is a strong need educate the people who take decisions on what usability brings to fore and promote it within the organization.

Articles listed below analyze the business case for Usability (important to convince the big wigs on ROI) and dig down deeper into promoting usability in organizations

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About Sachendra Yadav

Mobilist and Social Media enthusiast
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3 Responses to Easy is good but it is not enough

  1. ankur gupta says:

    i think everything is evolving so fast now a days, that keeping your product evolving and living and latest takes a very big effort. And also ROI for usability is not calculated correctly and is often low.. People fail to understand usability cause stickyness..U just got less than 5 mins to tell the person about ur app and make it working for him,,,incase person does not find the app usable, he wont ever come back…

  2. Cindy says:

    Everything comes back to, “will this grow the business? will this drive revenues and profitability?”

    Using those questions as a framework for making decisions doesn’t come naturally to many designers, but it’s an area we HAVE to become comfortable with. With my design team, there’s a time for creative brainstorming, but it always comes back to “Will this grow the business? Will this drive revenues and profitability?”

    In my experience, it’s particularly hard to sell usability as a benefit when working with enterprise software. With consumer products, the user is 100% empowered to pick a different solution if yours is hard to use. Within an enterprise organization, users don’t get to pick and choose which workflow app or word processor or bug database they want to use – if yours is the established product, users will just have to suck it up and learn how to deal with your products’ flaws.

    So how to sell usability? A few avenues to explore:
    – Easier to use means easier to test. If you have access to the leaders within your QA organization, they may be able to help you make the case that reducing their testing time drives down production costs.
    – Easier to use means increased productivity. Understanding the most common tasks of your users and making them more streamlined can save a few minutes a day… multiplied by dozens of times a day, thousands of users, can be a huge value-add to your customers that could be priced in.
    – Easier to use means fewer errors (less downtime, less $ spent on customer support). If you have access to your customer support team, find out what issues are common and address those – you can save money for your customer (reducing attrition) and potentially reduce your companies’ customer service headcount.

  3. Vijay Bhaskar says:

    Hi,
    It is a fact that there is a big gap that needs to be closed between UID/ID and the rest of the SW Eng. folks.
    I have had similar experiences while dealing with selling usability and the importance of UID and ID within the organization.
    In most cases it is difficult to convince the decision makers as they would ask for a direct ROI pertaining to investment in this area, but it is usually an indirect ROI that both the organization and the customers gain by following standards for Usability – that can be manipulated to direct ROI.
    This has been the most difficult barrier to cross as most of the decision makers are programmed to ask the standard questions like:
    1) ROI
    2) Time to Market
    3) USP etc.
    and they love to play around with these words both internally and externally.
    I would not proclaim that I have overcome this challenge, but I have to a certain extent been able to bridge the gap by introducing certain measures in place that target Usability.
    Some of them are:
    1) Include Usability as a mandatory Risk factor if the work involves fooling around with UI
    2) Focus on Non-Functional Requirement – including Usability
    3) Conduct trainings and orientation about Usability and showcase how the lack of factoring Usability while estimation can adversely affect the output.
    4) Take them through a simple flow-down of a login screen UI and its related components.
    The 4th one was my favourite as it allowed me to have a very interactive session with all the participants.
    Though this is not enough, my attempt was to seed the thought process of the implication of Usability, Cognitive Psychology, Interaction Design, Colour Theory etc into the mind of the developers and decision makers.
    Now, with a lot more focus on making things easy and the availability of so many gadgets, everyone is demanding Usability as a Quality output.
    I strongly believe that if we can factor a good Usability Life Cycle in place, then we can give the rest of the SDLC models a run for their money.

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