User Experience Magazine: Volume 7, Issue 1, 2008
Feature Articles: Usability in Healthcare
This article offers personal reflections on the “Mexican Manifesto on Usability and Accessibility for Government Websites” effort, which was a historic event at the UA Web conference organized by the Government of Nuevo León and the University of Monterrey, Mexico.
Latinos make up a very large market in the US, representing the second largest Spanish-speaking population in the world, but this market is grossly under-served. Though there is no shortage of material on multi-cultural usability in general, there is very little on this particular audience. My company, a large US bank, faces significant challenges – and opportunities – in addressing its Latino customers and potential customers. This article discusses a series of studies we ran with this group, looking in particular at their special characteristics and challenges.
Usability professionals often struggle with how to convince management of the importance of usability and the user experience on the success of internally-developed software. This struggle remains when management is purchasing enterprise software developed by an outside company. In these cases, ensuring that usability is a criterion by which software is evaluated is often a challenge as management is typically inundated by sales pitches and the promise of cost-reducing features, not to mention managing the software acquisition process itself. So, how does management get their information when evaluating software? What can we do to ensure usability is appropriately factored into software purchasing decisions?
Important players in the management decision-making process are technology research firms who provide evaluations and comparisons of information technology products. These firms are trusted authorities for many organizations and evaluating their reports is often an important part of management due diligence prior to making large software purchases. This article explores the treatment of usability in several product evaluations produced by two major technology research firms, and provides some recommendations for dealing with software evaluation processes that do not adequately address usability.
Goal-setting is one of those things that everyone talks about, but few people take the time to do properly. User experience practitioners, finding themselves deep in complex designs, with multiple conflicting stakeholders and tight deadlines can easily dive into their work without stopping to set and share clear, explicit goals.
In our work, we have found that having well-defined, shared goals can simplify decisions, save you time in meetings, keep you focused so you are always working on the most important issues, let you know what things you can let slide, and tell you when you are done. This article talks about how to formulate effective user experience goals and apply them to your investigations, designs,
In one of our client cases we used two complementary product concept validation methods: users acting in the field and actors performing in focus groups. Since there was neither a mock-up nor a prototype available, both methods used acting as a technique to make the concept, as well as the context of use, concrete for users, researchers, and product developers. The study was successful; our client was able to decide to continue further development of the product concept. Moreover, our client considered the schedule and the needed resources of our study very reasonable when comparing them to the delivered results.
In today's design-centric economy delivering usable, appealing products is no longer a 'nice to have' but a business imperative. Design has quickly moved to the forefront of competitive advantage, being driven by rising consumer expectations and enticing new products such as Motorola's Razr and Apple’s iPod. Business applications that cost millions to develop and deliver are no different; if they aren't usable, all that investment is wasted. User-Centered Design (UCD) organizations are the ones charged with solving the design problem and helping companies deliver world-class applications that actually get adopted. Until now, the tools UCD experts had available were paper and coded prototypes. However, these do not allow for true end-user validation and data integrity testing prior to the construction and quality assurance (QA) phases of the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC). Now there is an elegant solution – application simulation – that gives organizations a way to quickly assemble high fidelity, interactive mockups of proposed applications before any coding happens. It also allows testing these mockups directly with users early in the process, eliminating a majority of late cycle rework cost, post-production user/customer identified enhancements, and overall user/customer adoption risks. This article explores the motivations for UCD, details the alternatives available, including application simulation; and describes some best practices on how to adopt basic UCD principles in your organization.