UX "Under the Radar"

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An approach to user experience work in the government systems world

An approach to user experience work in the government systems world

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  • Note on independent consultant: Therefore, I don’t have the authority to establish a process in any project, only to recommend.
  • Note on independent consultant: Therefore, I don’t have the authority to establish a process in any project, only to recommend.
  • I know things change in business too, but it’s extremely rare that management is concerned about the opinion of the entire country.
  • There ARE some exceptions — specifically, internal systems whose use is optional. These are more like public-facing systems if the agency wants to encourage staff to use them. DOT’s IdeaHub is an example of this. btw, these are all photos of real public servants, obtained from government sites.
  • Usability is defined as effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction. The first two are somewhat straightforward. I can just hear the talk-show hosts now: “You’re spending taxpayer money to make overpaid government employees FEEL GOOD?!?!”

Transcript

  • 1. UX “Under the Radar” Elizabeth Buie Luminanze Consulting Panelist presentation (slightly revised) Designing for User Experience: Academia & Industry CHI 2011 conference Vancouver, BC, Canada - 9 May 2011 An Approach to User Experience Work in the Government Systems World Copyright © 2011, Elizabeth Buie
  • 2. Who Am I?
    • I’ve been around CHI since the Beginning of Time
    • I’ve been doing government work even longer
    • I’ve worked in a very large firm, a very small firm and a solo practice (current)
    1982 @ebuie 1975
  • 3. My approach to UX in government
    • … comes in two parts.
  • 4. Part 1 - Flying by the seat of your pants
  • 5. Part 1 - Flying by the seat of your pants * “Trousers” in the UK, and probably elsewhere as well *
  • 6. “ Flying by the seat of your pants”
    • An expression from the early years of aviation
      • Decide a course of action as you go along, using your own initiative and perceptions rather than a pre-determined plan or mechanical aids.
    • Of course, I do plan. But my projects almost always require flexibility and adaptability.
    from phrases.org.uk
  • 7. Part 2 - Flying under the radar
  • 8. “Flying under the radar”
    • Another expression from aviation — military, in this case
      • Flying so low to the ground that you escape detection
    • In other words, doing what you do in a way that won’t call attention to itself
  • 9. Why must I take this approach?
    • I’m an independent consultant
    • I face a LOT of variation
      • What I’m asked/allowed to do
      • Access to actual users
      • Agency control over design
      • Project openness to UX, especially beyond usability
    (not so unusual) (not unusual where I live)
    • I work mostly on gov’t projects
  • 10. Why must I take this approach?
    • I’m an independent consultant
    • I face a LOT of variation
      • What I’m asked/allowed to do
      • Access to actual users
      • Agency control over design
      • Project openness to UX, especially beyond usability
    (not so unusual) (not unusual where I live)
      • Effect of national politics
    • I work mostly on gov’t projects
  • 11. Gov’t work presents obstacles to UX
    • We can’t do everything we want
  • 12. Gov’t work presents obstacles to UX
    • We can’t do everything we want
    not so unusual
  • 13. Gov’t work presents obstacles to UX
    • We can’t do everything we want
    • Some agencies are more advanced than others in their approach to UX
    not so unusual
  • 14. Gov’t work presents obstacles to UX
    • We can’t do everything we want
    • Some agencies are more advanced than others in their approach to UX
    not so unusual not so unusual, either
  • 15. Gov’t work presents obstacles to UX
    • We can’t do everything we want
    • Some agencies are more advanced than others in their approach to UX
    • Main emphasis is on gov’t efficiency
    not so unusual not so unusual, either
    • Things can change with every election (or even more frequently)
      • Priorities
      • Direction
      • Funding
  • 16. We can’t use a canonical process
    • It just won’t work in government.
    • (Ironic, isn’t it?)
  • 17. Flexibility is essential
    • So I do what’s called for in each project, flying by the seat of my pants
  • 18. Flexibility is essential
    • So I do what’s called for in each project, flying by the seat of my pants
    trousers ^
  • 19. Flexibility is essential
    • So I do what’s called for in each project, flying by the seat of my pants
    • I pay as much attention to the users’ experience as I can, within constraints and (if needed) under the radar
    trousers ^
  • 20. Flexibility is essential
    • So I do what’s called for in each project, flying by the seat of my pants
    • I pay as much attention to the users’ experience as I can, within constraints and (if needed) under the radar
    Any improvement is good news.
    • And I remember my motto:
    trousers ^
  • 21. Public-facing: Not the problem
    • Govt. often sees the public as customers
    • A good experience motivates people to use the site or system
    • Governments want to be responsive to their citizens
  • 22. Public-facing: Not the problem
    • Govt. often sees the public as customers
    • A good experience motivates people to use the site or system
    • Governments want to be responsive to their citizens
    of democracies ^
  • 23. Internal: “You want to what ??”
    • Internal users are a captive audience
      • government employees
      • contractors
    • Using the system is part of their jobs
    * with some exceptions * *
  • 24. Internal: Usability is more sellable
    • Effectiveness
    • Efficiency
    • Satisfaction ?
      • Not quite as easy
      • Can be couched in terms of employee morale and therefore productivity
      • Less important than the other two, but a case can be made
    • But experience ? Surely you jest.
  • 25. A note on usability and UX
    • Usability (effectiveness, efficiency, satisfaction) is necessary for a good user experience
    • Usability is NOT sufficient for a good user experience
    • When I say “UX beyond usability” I mean the part of UX that’s more than “mere” usability
  • 26. Internal is the real challenge
    • I don’t know what to do about it.
    • The usual techniques can improve usability and achieve “good news”.
    • “Seat-of-the pants” and “under the radar” UX can help.
    • But I want more.
    • I want “good experience” to be recognized as valuable for internally facing products.
  • 27. Disadvantages of my approach
    • I see the disadvantages as intrinsic to the environment, rather than a characteristic of my approach.
    • The main disadvantage is that I have to take this approach.
    * At least, I don’t see an alternative in my situation. *
  • 28. Disadvantages of my approach
    • I see the disadvantages as intrinsic to the environment, rather than a characteristic of my approach.
    • The main disadvantage is that I have to take this approach.
    * At least, I don’t see an alternative in my situation. * Sigh.
  • 29. What I want from UX research
    • Concrete data on the effect of user experience on productivity
    • ROI of improving users’ experience of products that have captive audiences
    • “Under the radar” experience techniques for when the first two fail to convince management that experience is also important
  • 30. Thank you!
    • Elizabeth Buie
    • Luminanze Consulting
    • www.luminanze.com
    • [email_address]
    • @ebuie