Many consultants conclude that Usability is an instable profession because it lacks fundamental knowhow and methodology. A conclusion reached based on so-called bottom line analyses.
Bruce Temkin (Forrester) for instance describes the lack of solid processes and definitions as follows:
“One of the key problems with customer experience is that it’s not an “official” discipline like engineering and accounting. So it lacks a lot of rigor around processes and definitions.” Bruce Temkin – 2008
Jakob Nielsen’s post talks about the lack of knowledge in behavioural sciences and methodology:
“Many people without a grounding in behavioural user-research principles use bogus methodology and thus get misleading findings.” – Jakob Nielsen (2007)
Here’s his opinion on user tests, done all too often by people who don’t have the necessary background to perform valuable tests:
“Poor methodology is especially common for eyetracking studies, and thus most published studies in this area are wrong.” – Jakob Nielsen (2007)
A lot of people are passionate about user experience and have turned their passion into their jobs.
They try to do their utmost to get their work done, every single day.
I use the term ‘try’ because most of the time these people haven’t taken the time to get familiar with the basics of human behaviour.
Moreover, they don’t work using a scientific method or the appropriate tools to analyze human behaviour.
Usability can be good and can be bad. But how can you tell the difference if you don’t have the necessary knowledge of the perceptive cognitive system or don’t work with the appropriate tools?
It reminds me of the Apple advertisement for the launch of the first Macintosh.
In this commercial, people are paralyzed by the standard words they have to listen to.
All technical books promise their readers they will be able to build better interfaces. Personally, I would prefer to make you a better expert.
It will require a lot of work. But rest assured: you will have a lot of fun on the way. And in the end, you will book concrete results for the company for which you’re doing the work.
I wish you all the best and see you again next week!