The Case for Profitability
After you show your stakeholders how good design as well as usability design and testing will lower costs, you need to show them how design and testing will make the company money.
Usability expert Karen Donoghue (2002) has eight guidelines to successfully attach profitability to usability studies in your company. Following are those guidelines:
- Drive the design and development of the user interface and usability design closely against the product business case. If the production team has a business case already, be sure to integrate your interface design, usability design, and usability testing business case with the product business case as much as possible. Doing so will help make your argument that the usability design business case will positively affect the product business case.
- Make sure all project team members (including business, technology, and design) clearly understand the business goals and how usability affects those goals. It's important to identify the stakeholders in your project and talk with them as soon as possible about your desires and needs. Not only will this communication help stakeholders understand that you're serious about usability and good user interface design, but you'll also be able to learn what those team members want, and that will make your business case even stronger.
- Connect financial metrics to customer satisfaction and usability metrics, and measure them in an ongoing fashion. You'll learn about creating financial metrics using an ROI study and using usability metrics with the Usability Engineering Life Cycle, later in this chapter.
- Make the success measurement the responsibility of one person. Share this information with the team as an index (or set of indexes) of usability. This person can be the usability expert, someone else on the project team, or someone outside the project team whose job it is to manage company quality efforts.
- Share knowledge among the project team, and create a learning culture so that each team member understands what other team members contribute to the user experience. Constant communication is the key not only to meeting good design goals, but also to acquiring accurate and meaningful usability results.
- Build the user experience for scalability. Making the user experience scalable helps your usability efforts evolve as the business model changes and the user population expands and evolves. Also, you should make capital investments in architecture before look and feel. For example, if user needs require that your software upgrade to a new version of programming software, you need to prioritize your investment for the architecture required for upgrading the software.
- Know the customer's needs, tasks, and goals—and make sure the user experience satisfies them. This is where the usability design and testing comes in, but usability testing isn't the end-all and be-all of finding customer information. For example, you can bring users into the project team so they can contribute information, or you can survey users and hold focus group meetings to determine what your users want and don't want in the interface.
- Only add features and functionality that blend value for the customer with value for the company. This gets back to the first guideline, where you have to dovetail the design and development of a good user interface and usability testing with the product development business case. Good customer feedback before the design process starts can determine what features are important to the customer. Then you and the product team can determine what features that the user requests will bring the most value to the company.