At Open we identify and examine customer issues. At DNA we deliver on that thinking.

"We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." - Albert Einstein

Service Design

Getting over usability

Charlene Turei February 2012

Having recently returned from an international conference on Interaction Design in Dublin what struck me most was a sense that we in New Zealand still seem to be hung up on the whole ‘usability’ movement while the rest of the world has moved. This has been on my mind for some time, a sense that we’re putting too much emphasis on usability testing as a way to produce ‘user centred design’.

We at DNA have been challenging this over the past few years and introducing clients to the power of Design Research upfront as a way to ensure your project is heading in the right direction from the start rather than solely relying on rounds of usability testing down the track. This is not to say that usability testing isn’t useful, it’s absolutely a useful tool for validating design and solution choices made throughout the process, but what good is usability testing if you’re designing completely the wrong thing?

When given the opportunity to get out into the field and talk with our clients customers and users we’ve seen enormous benefits for our clients. These have come out of the insights and understanding gained including:

  1. Greater connection and deeper understanding of their customers and users
  2. More focused projects where decisions are made with confidence
  3. Unearthing of different perspectives leading to new opportunities
  4. An ability to better balance user needs, business drivers and IT constraints 
  5. Cohesive and collaborative client/agency teams where focus and priorities more clearly aligned

At Interaction12 where 750+ practitioners came to listen to 80+ talks, it was refreshing to see just how pervasive this way of working is amongst the rest of the world and I can only hope that as we continue to push ahead in this space we’ll start to see growth in research lead work here in New Zealand and the benefits that this brings to clients and their customers.


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