Usability means better business
June 4, 2001
More business are beginning to discover that usability is a Good Thing, as evidenced by this long feature article on the front page of the Tech NW business section of Portland's Oregonian newspaper. Interestingly, it's one of the few general-interest articles to note usability's roots in the human factors field going back to World War II. And there's also a nice testimonial from Good Guys, the electronics retailer, whose director of marketing and business development specifically asked for a usability evaluation of their site because ease-of-use increases the proportion of purchasers among visitors to the site. ::

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Your thoughts…

Jon Meads was a bit clueless. To attribute the failure of dot.coms totally on usability shows the poor business understanding of most people in usability. There were a variety of bad business decisions made along the way (not the slightest of which was spending way too much money in the development of the sites; too much too soon, without evolving with the market along the way).

I can't imagine why Jon isn't on a bandwagon to describe, instead, the huge market losses that are occuring across all realms of business because processes throughout the company miss potential due to bad design (or lack thereof -- can we start with phone menuing systems?). I see too many individuals in our related fields too narrowly focused on just the Internet. Do you agree?

Paula Thornton @ 06.08.2001

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I agree with Paula's assessment here. Usability can only enhance a good idea, it cannot sell a bad one. Before an idea can even get to the usability phase it must have a reason for being and a sustainable plan. Even the best engineered path to get to "buy this crappy product" is still going to get you a crappy product.

Yes, usability is important, and yes it can give a competitive edge by helping to convert a higher percentage of users, but it must exist within a larger thought process, or all the usability in the world doesn't do a bit of good.

Kyle Drummond @ 06.11.2001

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