If you’re serious about bringing usability practices into your organization, there’s something you need to know before you even get started.
To succeed, you’re going to have to shift the core belief system of your organization. If you can’t pull this off, you’ll encounter resistance at every turn.
Below are some of the fundamental shifts that must occur before a true user-centered web design process can succeed.
Management: Embracing User Experience as a Core Value
At many companies, management is still focused on ensuring milestones and met, and budgets and schedules are under control. User Experience, if considered at all, is secondary. A bonus. This mindset must change if usability practices are to succeed. Management has to appreciate that the company website must:
- Be usable and satisfying to a wide range of users. (Users of different skill levels, with different needs, and working from different environments.)
- Provide real business value and a measurable return on investment (sales, leads, or other key performance indicators).
A good user experience is not just “nice to have”. It is critical for success, and must therefore be managed and measured.
Development Team: Shifting From the Feature/Technology Mindset
Often, the development team’s priority is simply to build out the features that been identified as necessary by themselves or management. If the website contains all the required features and is delivered on time, that’s good enough… even if it leads to a confusing clutter of features that real users simply don’t want.
Similarly, the development team is often too focused on technology. They’re tempted to use the latest/greatest tools, rather than producing what real users want: something simple and practical.
A fundamental shift in mindset is required: to identifying what users really want or need, and making those features easy and satisfying to use.
Achieving these shifts in mindset is difficult. A certain amount of conflict and misunderstanding is inevitable, which is why diplomatic and communication skills are essential to the usability engineer. If management and the development team are not on board — if they are not ready to embrace User Experience as a core value — then a user-centered project simply cannot succeed.