Monday, April 2, 2018

It depends (every usability engineer ever)

I’ve often joked that I want this on my tombstone … Even though I feel a little conflicted by it.

On the one hand, I see my offering this statement as a good thing. It means people are coming to me with questions. So, basically, I’ve gained their trust. Yay!

On the other hand, though, there are some things that make me cringe a little when I have to say this. Probably the main thing is that my clients seem to be thinking in black and white terms. Alternatively, they may also simply be wanting a thumbs up / thumbs down from yours truly.

One of the things I feel like I am always trying to get across to my clients is that the world is a complex place, and a lot of it is very situational. In particular, I like to get across that usability issues are often contextual in nature.

For example, who is this system for? A technical audience? Well, they may be just fine with it. Your average Joe or Jane? No way in heck!

In addition … What is the user’s goal? How motivated are they? Where will they be doing this? Have they seen stuff like this before? 

What are your goals? Are those in conflict with the users’ in any way? How should we prioritize? Who is making the decisions?

How hard is it to the make that change? Do you have time to do that? Is it worth the effort? What are the goals of your project?

Overall, how is this decision being applied? In just this particular situation? Across the board?

And on and on and on.

You know, maybe “it depends” is just a good way to begin the conversation. Maybe a better way to word that simply would be, “Tell me more.”

Ha ha!  Very clever, funny developer guys!

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