Sunday, August 1, 2010

HE-75 Topic: Cleaning Up the Mess

I received a reminder this week of what usability professionals are often called on to do – cleaning up the mess created by a failed process. Somehow, the persons responsible for designing an awful, unusable and in some case, useless user interface expect the usability expert to come in, take one look and create a beautiful user interface. This is absurd!  It was the "nightmare" come true - something related to one of my other postings: HE-75 topic: Design first and ask questions later

Writing from my own perspective, there is nothing that a usability professional likes to do less than to correct a failed design that resulted from a failed design process. This week I was asked to save a group of programmers and user interfaced designers from the monstrosities that they had created. What was particularly strange was that the leader of the project thought that I could just redesign something by looking at what they had created. It was bizarre. Unfortunately, I had to deliver several harsh messages regarding the design process and the design, that were not well received. (Nevertheless, that is my job.)

Here is the point I want to make to anyone who reads this. Process and the resulting design should be considered as two sides of the same coin. Good design process nearly always results in a good design. A nonexistent or poor design process leads to a poor design. HE-75's design process can serve as a foundation design process for designing user interface in nearly any industry, particularly in those industries where the harm is particularly severe. Where I am currently working, I plan to use HE-75 as one of the foundation documents to set user interface design standards. And as I mentioned, I am not currently working in the medical or medical device industry. However, I have come to believe that in this industry, the level of harm can be significant. Thus, I shall incorporate HE-75.
Next time, I'll review so of the literature that might be of some use to the community.