June 19, 2003

Do Some Research on Being a Client
Jason at Signal vs. Noise points out a great learning tactic: hire someone in your line of work and try being on the client end of the job for once. He notes that it's a great way to learn how hard it is to be the client. I'd like to refine and add a few points to his:

- You'll learn how hard it is to be the client.
- You'll see how another consultant/designer explains things.
- You might see new deliverables, methods or techniques you can learn or adapt.
- You'll refine (or at least validate) your current approach.
- You'll be more empathetic with your own clients in the future.
- You'll learn about critical steps of the client experience you may take for granted like finding and interviewing a consultant, deliverable turnover, expectation setting, communication needs (e.g. status updates), and billing processes.
Why Things Don't Work
Don Norman talks about things usability and user experience folks need to do better to be more successful.

The way for usability professionals to get the attention of senior management is to talk about dollars and cents. ... "Executives know that service costs are enormous, the sort of costs companies try to cut. It's extremely easy to make the case that subjecting a product to usability testing up front eliminates service costs and makes customers happier."

One of the best examples of a top technology executive who thinks about usability, Norman says, is Michael Dell. "Someone once asked him why Dell keeps doing so well on market share and margins. Dell responded that his company doesn't go after market share or margins. Instead, he and his team think about whether they are satisfying customers, both in terms of usability and across the board in every aspect of the customer's experience. If you focus on that, the rest takes care of itself."