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The Research Triangle
If market research tells us what consumers want....usability helps us learn how to deliver on that promise and when we have succeeded.
A few years ago, an elementary school built a new library. The architect was not allowed to talk to the librarians, or even to get a first-hand look at how the students and teachers used the facility. When it was done, the staff toured the new library, and everyone thought it looked beautiful. When the first students came in, picked out their books and went to check them out. Then, everyone started laughing: the third graders were not tall enough to see over the counter.
This seems like a silly mistake, but we build software that way all the time. How many product managers or developers work for years on a product and never meet any of the people who will use it? Or base their designs on assumptions about the market that are never tested?
That's where usability comes in.
When we know little about the people who will use a product, usability fills the gap with site visits, personas, and other analysis. But when market research is available, it can - and should - work together with usability to amplify and inform.
When you combine market research, usability and user research, and expert
design practice, you have a way to listen to both the mass market and
individual users; to suggest design solutions and to test whether they
Where market research looks at mass demographics, usability is interested in a qualitative understanding of people as individuals with a history, goals, interest and a relationship to the web site or product. And, it is especially interested in the different ways people behave - what they do and how they interact.
User research looks at a few specific individuals, and builds a design concept around what we learn from them.
What makes this group of people a group?
What do they want?
How can we meet those needs?
Other articles and resources
Using Narrative to Communicate Design Ideas
- Bringing Users Alive
The Politics of
Lessons from the InfoWeb
- Creating a Successful Knowledge Management System
a Style Guide to Build Consensus
|Whitney Interactive Design|
|whitneyq at wqusability dot com||www.WQusability.com||908-617-1122|
|© 2002-2011, Whitney Quesenbery|