Projects: Friends of Usability

Friend of Usability at DuPont - Rita Seelig-Ayers

Rita Seelig-Ayers received her “Friends of Usability” award for her role as “Usability Advocate”. She was the DuPont Information Security Office Program Manager for the E-Pass application, an enterprise-level two-factor authentication program and Heather Fox’s client.

Heather’s company is Phena Partners LLC.

Rita Seelig-Ayers’ role in usability is “advocate,” according to Fox. Rita had an interesting challenge as Program Manager. The application she had responsibility for was both difficult to use for its 72,000 users and 3000 power users; it was also difficult to operate and maintain.

This previous version of E-Pass application was not user-centered; users would wind their way through a series of menus while trying to perform a task, only to find at the end of their path that they had tried to perform a task they were not authorized to do. E-Pass also required significant operation and maintenance activities on the part of DuPont’s IT provider, which kept production costs high. Also, the E-Pass technical design wasn’t flexible enough to meet the evolving requirements of DuPont’s network and application security architecture.

Rita made sure that usability was incorporated into the redesign of the application when she engaged Phena to provide the high-level design for the new application. Phena’s system scoping and analysis services included iterative sessions with users and stakeholders to gather both business and user requirements, revised business rules for the new application, business process mapping, use cases, complete functional and user specifications for the new application, persona profiles for each user type, detailed wireframes for the application, and a working prototype of the new application.

Usability methods were incorporated into the development of all of Phena’s design deliverables—from the user-centered methods used to gather requirements to the usability test on the new application prototype, in which 200 current E-Pass system users worldwide participated. The application design was iteratively tested with users in the various stages of its development to quickly flush out design flaws and functionality problems. Rita understood how spending the time and effort at the front-end of application design would save the headache (and cash-ache) of fixing design flaws and functionality problems when the application was being built or was in production.

Heather wanted to show her appreciation for Rita’s understanding of user-centered design as well as her willingness to do usability studies up front. Rita believes that there is a “viable business reason” for usability and she “never leaves users behind,” says Heather.

Rita was surprised to get an award, and appreciative also. Heather says that providing an award supports UPA “and is a good way to market as well as appreciate clients.”

Profile written by Everyl Yankee, February 2004

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