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This has started to drive me absolutely insane. They give the UI straight to the graphic designers right out of the gate, then hand it over to us developers to implement. The closest I can get to having usability input is when we do short peer reviews where we can add our 'suggestions and comments' or I wait until development and testing period and 'hi-jack' some really critical things.

The biggest problem is that I think they don't get the difference between something being pretty and something being usable, and worse still they don't get that usability has some hard facts in it.

For example I was looking over a marketing blog feed where there was only the first few lines of the blog and then it cuts you off and has a 'READ MORE' link that takes you to the full read. The 'READ MORE' link was on the left side of the column whereas the text ended on the right side and my eye was just let hanging and I felt initially like there was some missing content until I finally looked around and found the link. To me, this is a broken design. My eye should go right to the link I need to click to read more. However when I bring this up all I get is 'but it's over there to create balance but I will consider the change'.

I really need help figuring out a way to convince them that there is a difference. Even our QA team things they are doing usability by testing an application to make sure it works, but what they are doing is still slightly different. Yeah they will iron out some major confusions, but it's still not usability!

How can I educate people, especially when they are so pegged in their beliefs and practices?

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3 Answers 3

I have had that issue many times. If you are working with people that are drawn to pretty pictures, then you may have to appeal to them visually usually. Most clients / companies have the same motive, but many haven't actually put it to words - to get the end user to where they want to go, keep them engaged while they are there. The site must be organized and designed in a way that is comfortable enough to the eye to spend time looking. There are many books and articles written about successfull, and unsuccessful user flow - and you may pull those in to help you articulate your point.

I find giving concrete reasons for each additional change can help a lot. Explaining that a properly placed link will make it easier for the user to navigate the site, which will keep them there longer. If someone gets where they want to go faster, they are more likely to be interested, if they have to work for it, they fill find somewhere else to go. For example. having a well placed 'add to cart' button almost immediately lowers page abandonment rate. Visually guiding the user to where you want them to go at the onset will ensure a higher success rate of your company achieving their goals.

If your company can't fully understand through hearing UI ideas verbally - which many can't, it may be beneficial to show them the differences visually. Or, request they do user testing, where they will find the hiccups for themselves, in a much more costly way.

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I wish it was as easy as giving concrete examples, it seems to me that the designers just want to control everything and kind of get offended when you question their work, it's really annoying. They just taking 'suggestions' that they will 'possibly consider'. I wish they would just acknowledge obvious things, power whores. –  ioSamurai Sep 15 '11 at 20:13

Interestingly, I have had a related problem, that UX is seen as the area of the designers, who did do it reasonably well, whereas it should be across the board, and involve the developers too. We can make a difference to usability.

There is no simple answer, but I think providing in some cases the evidence that doing things in x way has been shown to be better than y way. Doing this a few times may develop the idea that this is important stuff. Making changes and monitoring the user conversion rates ( if appropriate - or something similar to indicate that it has made a positive difference ) might also give the evidence. It is a slow process, but over time, it can convince them.

The quicker alternative - but much more expensive - is @Samanthas comment on suggesting strongly that they do proper, full and formal user testing. It will cost a lot of money, so the company may therefore take notice of the results. Then they might listen to you.

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Yes, excellent point. 'UX' isn't necessarily a department. It's concern of all parties responsible for the product. –  DA01 Sep 15 '11 at 15:38
    
@DA01 Which is also like saying that it should probably be a department, just like a security team evaluates all facets of risk? –  ioSamurai Sep 15 '11 at 20:11
    
No - it should be a concept that in through all of the departments, and an important part of what everyone does. –  Schroedingers Cat Sep 15 '11 at 21:13

It's because we're still building web sites like we were building Model Ts on an assembly line floor.

Software/web development is not an assembly line process. Concepts such as waterfall and SixSigma need to be tossed out the window.

Of course, most established companies of size simply can't do that. They are old dogs and refuse to learn any new tricks.

The real solution is simple: collaboration. UX and Graphic Design and Dev and Copywriting and Business Line all need to be working TOGETHER AT THE SAME TIME. Iterating, modifying, tweaking, COMMUNICATING.

There's lots of documentation on this. It's basically Agile.

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