Politics Of Usability 09


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Originally presented at the 2008 UPA Conference

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Politics Of Usability 09

  1. The Politics of Usability Michael Rawlins, Certified Usability Analyst Presented June, 2008 Usability Professionals Association for a panel presentation in Baltimore, MD 1
  2. About me... Michael Rawlins - Experienced Usability Analyst - Over 20 years of Fortune 100 company experience - Has institutionalized usability for three companies - Certified Usability Analyst (CUA) - HFI’s CUA of the Month in 2007 2
  3. Politics defined... “The buck stops here” - Harry Truman So... Take ownership of political problems. Is Usability a task for Sisyphus? 3
  4. Who has heard this? “We don’t have time for usability right now.” “We don’t need you right now... maybe later.” “The project is almost done. Can you check it out?” I imagine you’ve heard many others... 4
  5. But - we’re here... Many organizations have heard the message and now have usability staff. And trained them... And hope to use them one day... 5
  6. The art of politics... “Politics move mountains with mere words.” - Anonymous 6
  7. Here are some words Speak credibly Have credentials Talk the talk Be qualitative Walk the walk 7
  8. Speak Credibly... 8
  9. Speaking Credibly Obstacle? You: “I think we should use a drop down list here to make it easier to type the entry.” Them: “That’s your opinion. Here’s my opinion...” Guideline: Avoid giving opinions. See 11 more guidelines - next... 9
  10. Cite Data (Top Winners...) 1.“Research indicates that...” (www.usability.gov) 2.“Our usability testing shows...” 3.“Our Standards say... and our standards are usability tested”. 4.“Best practices suggest that...” (reference material, books, gurus, training material...) 10
  11. Gedanken Experiments (Einstein) 5. Cognitive task analysis - Identify loads (Visual, Intellectual, Memory, Motor) Example: To select a radio button - decide to use the mouse (I) - look for the mouse (V + MO) - reach and grab (MO) - reposition pointer (V + MO) - select option (V + I + ME + MO) 11
  12. Speak Objectively... 6.“I don’t know... we’ll run a usability test” (avoid speaking for all users). 7.“If I were to conduct a usability test, I expect x% of subjects to have this problem.” (give reasons) 8.“If I were the usability test subject, I would probably be puzzled by...” 12
  13. Borrow Findings 9.“Other usability tests, covered similar issues...” (and those tests suggest we do x) 10.“Our interview and observations showed end-users actually did x.” 11. “End-users said they thought x” (collective mental model) 13
  14. Have Credentials... 14
  15. Having Credentials... Obstacle? You: “I read that Jakob Nielsen said...” Them: “Yeah, but Jarrod Spool said...” Next are six more insights... 15
  16. 1st - Earn their Respect... If you are a gatekeeper for usability, can you demonstrate earning that role? Doctors earn an MD; Executives earn an MBA; Pilots earn licenses. What is your “white lab coat & stethoscope”? PhD? MBA? *CUA? *IIBA? *Certified Usability Analyst **Certified Business Analyst 16
  17. 2nd - Style Matters... Did you pass a driver’s license test? What did it mean? A credential validates your knowledge. Self confidence creates authority. Self efficacy shows up in our “style”. 17
  18. 3rd - Be A Professional Professionalism means membership, peer review, leadership, demonstrated skills. Passing a test means “initiation”. “Professional” - means Sr. Management treats you: With respect As an ally and partner With expectation (your insights are critical...) 18
  19. 4th - Network Aggressively... Read & meet your peers in your industry. Always share your political challenges. Share your ideas, insights & solutions. Share your point of view (on LinkedIn, Twitter & other social networks) Stay in touch and learn from your peers... 19
  20. 5th - Negotiate Ethically It’s not important to win every argument. Allow you peers and stakeholders to reach at the correct conclusion in their own way (on their own time...) Supply the kernels of knowledge. Share the importance in open discussions - where you supply ‘evidence’ and ‘research’ to back up you ideas and recommendations. Communicate risks - honestly & openly. 20
  21. 6th - Influence Your Peers... Use persuasive techniques to influence your peers and stakeholders: Reciprocation - Your peers will tend to return a favor. Do favors... Commitment and Consistency - If people commit, orally or in writing, to an idea or goal, they are more likely to honor that commitment. Social Proof - People will do things that they see other people are doing. Authority - People will tend to obey authority figures. Liking - People are easily persuaded by other people that they like. Scarcity - Perceived scarcity will generate demand. 21
  22. Talk the Talk... 22
  23. Talk the Talk... Obstacles? You: “We could make money by decreasing drop off rates...” Them: “Yeah, but we make more putting that reprogramming into advertising.” See three additional ideas to consider... 23
  24. 1st - Practice Doctor Speak First impressions count “bad designs” versus “basic failure to align text, graphics, headers or using a grid layout.” The phrase below suggest ‘expertise’: “There are visual affordance issues in this design.” “Fitt’s Law provides some guidance as to why the icons will not work for our users.” It’s important to always carefully explain terminology. 24
  25. 2nd-Think like Management Return on Investment (ROI) - defines your practices core value to Sr. Management. Use tools to calculate: increased productivity reliance on a help desk reduction in training increase conversion rates decrease in drop-off rates Read about ROI (HFI, Deborah Mayhew & Jeff Sauro) 25
  26. 26
  27. 3rd - Seek Practice Maturity 1. Beginning Usability - seek showcase projects. 2. Secure an Executive Champion - for budget, direction, change management & organizational muscle. 3. Build infrastructure - share assets, set standards, build something tangible, easy to access and leverage. 4. Staffing - choose the correct model that derives the greatest value to the company. 5. Make Routine - strive for usability as a routine activity in the development life-cycle (like hygiene). Survey: Where is your practice? 27
  28. Be Qualitative... 28
  29. Be Quantitative Objection? You: “Users are having difficulty getting through the site without making navigational errors.” Them: “Goodness! We can’t redesign the whole website! Can you be specific?” Next - four concepts to help quantify your analysis. 29
  30. 1st - Beyond More or Less... Measure usability to learn Efficiency (time on task) Effectiveness (task success rates) Satisfaction (subjective assessment) Learning (time to learn/adopt) Errors (ratio of unintended errors & ability to recover from errors) ROI calculations require measurement. 30
  31. 2nd - Margin of Error http://www.humanfactors.com/downloads/quantitative_usability 31
  32. Margin of Error (cont.) Like voting polls - measures can be ambiguous +/- 3% (you need 1,067 people to get +/- 3%) If 8 out of 10 success a usability - don’t say 80% passed. Best you can say is “48% of 96% passed” Reference: http//www.measuringusability.com/wald.htm 32
  33. 3rd - Use Time on Task ROI Reduces margin of error for ROI calculations Use “geometric mean” not “average” (just like median a home price) To really save 20 seconds, go for the bottom of the margin of error. Reference: http//www.measuringusability.com/time_intervals.php 33
  34. 3rd - Share ROI Analysis Reference: http//www.measuringusability.com/quantitative-usability 34
  35. Walk the Walk... 35
  36. Walk the Walk! Objection? You: “Why don’t we focus on more usability?” Them: “We have so many more important things to do - than worry about pretty screens...” Finally, advice on steering your stakeholders... 36
  37. Coordinator versus Expert Ego Issues: reduce threats (read your colleagues body language) Respect Opinions: listen, facilitate & always be open Avert Resentment: foster teamwork and collaboration Be the expert: provide access to research 37
  38. Use Change Management Read about the domain (aggressively) Publish (or perish...) Provide advanced notice on changes (drive change through proactive communication) Make it personal (avoid broadcast announcements) Update project progress (become part of Commercialization, PMO & Sr Team updates) 38
  39. Reward Early Adoption Praise in public (seek opportunities to showcase good practices). Facilitate positive feedback loops. Acknowledge your Executive Champion publicly. Provide your Executive champion with success stories to share to his/her peers. 39
  40. Sweat Equity Training Create a usability training program Kick-off projects with a training class Be the expert - the lead trainer of the domain Establish usability forums invite other professionals to attend (Trainers, BA’s, PMs, Marketing people, Legal, Developers...) Run often (lunch & learn formats really work) 40
  41. Job Titles Matter... Rethink your title - avoid the ‘title of the day’ phenomenon. Think of your title as your personal brand statement Make certain your title communicates: framer and doer (a thinker who can roll up their sleeves) practical not theorist (hands-on, not just a conceptualizer) 41
  42. Conclusions... 42
  43. Take Charge! Overcome political objections to usability: Talk the talk (be professional, credible and involved). Walk the walk (share, be ethical & establish yourself as the company ‘go to’ person). Lead (teach, get published, establish yourself as an expert, use persuasive techniques to negotiate) Facilitate (bring in others, be the center of the craft) Praise (deflect attention by shining praise on others) 43
  44. Thank you... A special thanks to John Sorflaten a fellow panelist at the 2008 Usability Professionals Association Conference 44