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I work for a website which lists all the products and designs for 3d printers. We also make 3d printers and encourage users to upload their designs and print it with our printing services. Basically it is like a social media networking for 3d printing lovers. We have our own brands too but right now our focus is being seen in the 3d printing community.

As a user you can upload your design and select it's category and subcategory. For an example i can upload Yamaha keychain design file in Category : Accessories and Subcategory would be Automobiles. Suddenly management has decided to take off the subcategory and have only one long list of categories. I am not very keen on this as it is going to add a lot of confusion for our existing users. They will consider my views only when i build a strong case. How di i do it?

  • What is the reason management wants to do this? If you're asking for help building a UX argument it'd be good to understand what the concerns are – tohster Mar 16 '15 at 16:33
  • They do not answer my questions. :( – Guru Munishwar Mar 17 '15 at 5:00
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If the system is already in place, you can give them mockups of what the users will be seeing when searching through the items. You can and should give them examples from other sources which have proven to work, such as Amazon.

I would also diverge into different solutions. Such as tagging items, searching by creator/colour etc. Having the sub categories in place is useful for scaling. Removing them might work for now, but will just cluster up the items should the list keep getting bigger.

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I’ll assume you are correct that removing the subcategories would cause a lot of user confusion even though I don’t know what the subcategories are used for or what sort of design is planned to remove the subcategories (e.g., what support it provides legacy users).

The best way to convince the higher ups that something is a bad idea is to show them. Conduct a simple usability test. Since this is more to convince management than help you with design, don’t worry about getting a representative sample (which you may not have a budget for). Instead, focus on getting a credible sample. Consider recruiting volunteers from where you work in order to save time and money. Recruit people from positions that management will recognize as “good with computers.” Could even be developers. Maybe not those working on the site, but maybe they are (if the point is to show the confusion created for expert users). The point is to get users that management cannot dismiss as idiots if (when) they fail.

Select an important task and measures that best illustrate the potential for confusion, and run the usability test. For non-scientific-types, a single video is worth a 1000 numbers, so video the usability test, using your personal smartphone if necessary. Present both the numbers and a selected video or two to management. Emphasize that they’re watching the best most capable users struggle. Point out that if 4 out of 5 (or whatever number) of the best users struggle, then imagine how bad it is for average users. Tie it to revenue, however tenuously you can.

Use the presentation of the results of the usability test to open a dialog on the design --to show that you have "serious concerns about this proposed change," not to show that the managers are a bunch of dumbasses. Use the opportunity to find out what management is trying to accomplish, and be prepared to work with them towards a solution that addresses both yours and their concerns. Give them a way out that saves face.

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