At the company I work for I'm the specialist in usability, we produce a lot of work and I try to get involved in the design as much as I can. However I do not have the time to work on every project and inevitably some work that is produced is not great usability wise (which upsets me!).

The reason for this is that other people at the company are not concerned with usability. This is not because they are stupid its just that they don't know how to think about interactions in that way and also do not think that it is important. I was thinking that if I could just teach them the basic concepts usability and why it is important then that would be enough to stop most of the problems from occurring.

The people that I am going to be teaching will not want to click on links, read articles or read books in their own time. I think it needs to be face to face, probably in a workshop format max 2 hours. I can use the internet to show examples or videos if required.

Usability is a tricky discipline to master so how do I break it down for people that may never have heard about it?

3 Answers 3


Not to specifically pinpoint one book (especially since you didn't want one) but my first day on the job I was given "Don't Make Me Think" to read. It's a quick-read, the concepts are attainable and just by providing that sort of fundamental process of thinking about the user first, I think you will be able to get your point across.

Maybe just those sort of concepts you can lay out into a basic explanation of usability. A common sense approach because if you say these people are bright then it's most likely just a mindset issue - they haven't been asked to think about the user experience before so they haven't - lay out what the true importance is and then I think you will see that develop within their work on it's own.


First you must make a point that usability matters. Have them be with you when you make usability tests, or show them a video of a real user struggling with the interface.

The second best thing you can do is to learn a bit of programming yourself, and provide proof of concepts that clearly demonstrates that your solution is superior. Programming is extremely hard and you are involved in details of algorithms and code it's difficult to look at the bigger picture.

In essence: first make sure they understand the importance of usability, then provide clearly superior alternatives, and then try to teach them usability concepts.


If you do usability testing with video recording for your next project you can put together a 5 minute video presentation that shows the highlights of your findings. Steve Krug's book "Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems" has a lot of great ideas along these lines. Having a short meeting every month sounds like such a great idea to me and keeping it to a half hour will help get people into the meeting and hopefully help bring them back.

If you are not doing tests with users and are just doing heuristics, I think it will always be a tough battle to get buy-in and understanding. Without testing it is just your opinion after all.

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