Re: Usability test or make it right in the first place?

Subject: Re: Usability test or make it right in the first place?
From: Jim Curran <jcurran -at- VNET -dot- IBM -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 8 Sep 1994 22:12:36 GMT

In <3478b1$o21 -at- search01 -dot- news -dot- aol -dot- com>, johnbrin -at- aol -dot- com (JohnBrin) writes:
>Jim Currnan said, "I speak as a human factors engineer when I tell you

That's "Curran"

>that in the short run,
>usability testing actually extends the development cycle and costs
>more money."

>Good point Jim.

>When I suggest that our goal should be products so good that they don't
>need training and documentation, I see skepticism.

>Too often, when customers point out a human interface problem, the
>solution is to document around the problem. This keeps tech writers
>employed and customers dissatisfied.

>--John Brinegar

Maybe the skepticism comes from not quite knowing how to effect change
in the product. I don't think many technical communicators are trained in
it and don't feel qualified.

Human factors engineers are trained to challenge developers. That's their
job, and good ones achieve results that way.

In my experience, technical communicators are often better poised to
effect change. They have a high level of technical knowledge themselves
and, since they provide a needed service to developers (as opposed to a
"nice-to-have"), they often have good rapport with developers too.

What I do is imagine myself as a naive user almost every minute as I work,
I try to simplify everything, and I drop gentle hints around developers about
what they might improve. Sometimes suggestions provoke no initial activity,
but over time they grow in people's minds and get taken over as their own.

If you can make gentle suggestions you'll go a long way toward improving
products.
----------
Jim Curran "All the day-glo freaks that used to paint
their face,
Information Developer They've joined the human race"
RTP NC USA
-Fagen&Becker


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