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To observe users first or not to observe users first? August 29, 2006

Posted by pakman050 in Business, Design, Information Architecture, Usability.

A very interesting article by Don Norman of UIGarden.

Field studies, user observations, contextual analyses, and all procedures that aim to determine true human needs are still just as important as ever – but they should all be done outside of the product process. This is the information needed to determine what product to build, which projects to fund. Do not insist on gathering this information after the project has begun. Then it is too late; then you are holding everyone back.

I’m on a fence on this one. What we aim to achieve by user testing is to ultimately improve the quality of a product – not necessarily to reconfigure its root structure or purpose. Usability testing can occur at various stages of the project.

Why not put your prototype where your mouth is by spending some money to design and build it. The truth is usability specialists are usually information architects or designers (or other [possibly all] project team memebers) who want answers that clients can’t give them. Lets put our usability credentials to the test and put our work to the test to see how it works.

Being in the profession that we are in, we have to be flexible, yet sturdy; passionate, yet factual; logical, yet humanistic.




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