Developing a Business Case Framework
Now that you have identified what the benefits are, you need to tie your usability plan to the entire production process. If possible, you should start the usability process at the same time the project design process begins.
Starting the usability process at the beginning allows you to couch the design of not only the usability tests but also the product interface and documentation in terms of the total user experience. The user experience is a five-step process (Donoghue, 2002) that encompasses the entire customer experience:
- The process starts with the business goals. These customer goals can include, but are not limited to, converting customers, increasing retention, and increasing transactions.
- The project team factors in the customer goals, including ease of learning, a solution that solves the users' needs, and access to help when needed. That help should also be designed to resolve users' needs quickly. Help design usually falls under the purview of the documentation specialist. Chapter 4, "Good Design," expands on the need for good documentation design.
- The appropriate project team members design the user interface or documentation to meet both the business and customer goals.
- When the interface is ready for testing, the team participates in the engagement and interaction processes and provides feedback. You can obtain this feedback in a number of ways, from user surveys to controlled tests. You'll learn more about creating a usability test in Chapter 9, "Usability."
- After testing, the testers' goals are satisfied. This doesn't guarantee that you'll meet all the goals of all your customers, because testing is limited to a selected group of users. However, usability testing minimizes problems you will encounter when you release your software, hardware, or Web site to the public.
At the end of the five-step process, the satisfaction of the customer goals naturally leads into the satisfaction of the business goals. You can use this process as a framework for developing the rest of your plan, starting with the benefits of good design and how it affects your business goals.