RE: [TCP] certification (was: ranting STC)

Subject: RE: [TCP] certification (was: ranting STC)
From: Kevin McLauchlan <kmclauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
To: 'Dan Goldstein' <DGoldstein -at- riverainmedical -dot- com>, techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Tue, 6 Mar 2007 10:34:13 -0500

Dan Goldstein replied to Chris B.:

> I think you're reacting to my comment that Usability Studies aren't
> offered as a high school course.

Guilty. And it wasn't even me you were talking to. :-)

> Have you taken a Usability Studies
> course, and did you find it to be superfluous? As John Posada
> told you,
> some of the stuff at usability.gov is highly relevant for
> developers and
> writers, and it's certainly possible to present it in an effective
> course of study.

That, I can agree with.

However, the original comment was "Usability Studies", which led
into a whole different area of wonkiness.

The problem, as I see it. Is that most businesses aren't scientific
enterprises. Thus the rather small number of employers of people
on this list who would actually pay for studies to see if what they
are doing is working. For most businesses, it's "working" if the
customers are willing to pay more for it than it costs to produce.

In the case of documentation, the customers aren't even paying for
it directly, but they demand that it be part of the product.
If there's any measure of usability, it's taken from the calls to
tech-support.

In my job, my usability feedback comes from product testers and
QA people, from Tech Support and from Sales Engineers. Oh, and
new employees are always great guinnea-pigs, but at a 34-person
branch office, new employees aren't that frequent an occurrence.
There's no budget for me to go out and watch customers struggling
to set up our equipment and software while reading my documents
and answering their phones, e-mails and text-messages.
Nor is there budget to put a bunch of our stuff on tables in a
big room, then bring in students to open the cartons, set up the
contents, and be closely observed for confusion and sticking points.
There's really, really no budget for equipment to track their
eyeballs and their anxiety levels and such-like.

Those that do have such fancy-schmancy resources can write up
the results, and I'll read all about it. I don't really need
somebody up at the front of a classroom for that, and I don't
think I need an exam and a piece of paper, and the next time
I'm reading, it'll be somebody debunking half of what I read
this time... (oops, don't go there). :->

Kevin

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