InfoDesign: Special on Jared Spool. Interview with the excellent Jared Spool: “When a design team has to tackle one of these designs, how do they know what content is required? They could do field studies (contextual inquiries and ethnography) to determine who the users are, what content they need, and when. However, that’s an expensive, time consuming process and it comes at the beginning of a project, when resources and funds are extremely tight.
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This research can be very expensive. We fund most of it with money from our conferences, roadshows and publications. A small portion is privately funded with client consulting.

We’ve come a long way from our roots of being a usability testing service. We really don’t do that anymore, primarily because our research has shown that the most successful design teams are those that do their own testing. Farming your testing out substantially reduces its effectiveness. Instead, we help teams start and maintain their own internal testing process.
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It’s interesting to note that the more we play down our opinions, the more clients beg us to give them and tend to seriously consider them when making their decisions.
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Since UIE started as a consulting outfit, we had to learn quickly how to prove to people we were valuable. After all, when you’re a consultant, you don’t eat if nobody believes you’re of value.

I learned quickly that business executives didn’t care about usability testing or information design. Explaining the importance of these areas didn’t get us any more work. […] We found, early on, that the less we talked about usability or design, the bigger our projects got.
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Yet, was the iPod’s design process a standard one? Nope. Have we dissected the process, so that everyone in the field knows exactly how they did it? Nope. Can we explain why Apple is in the process of shutting down all their usability labs? Nope. Have we even tried to answer these questions? Nope. ”

Sorry for the extensive quoting. Read the article! Jared is very, very good.

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