Usability Consulting Services
In 2007, Rich Gunther, Scott Butler, and Randolph Bias formed The Usability Team to provide cost-effective, timely, and relevant user-centered design services to the product design/development community.
We believe that a product's usefulness drives its adoption. No matter what sort of product it is -- hardware, software, web site, device, service -- it needs to possess three fundamental characteristics:
- Usability: the product must be designed in such a way that it is immediately intuitive, does not impede the user's ability to use it, and allows for efficient and productive usage.
- Quality: the product must be developed free of bugs, must have an adequate support system, and must be deployed in such a way that users do not experience any overhead as a result of infrastructure issues.
- Market Fit: the product should serve the needs of its target user. It should be available at the right time, in the right place, and at the right price. It should do everything the target user needs, and nothing they do not need.
This "Usefulness Characteristic" drives everything we do, and it is a true triumvirate: no product will survive without some of each aspect. We can help you determine what the appropriate blend of usability, quality, and market fit is for your product.
If you've read this far, you likely have some questions about the usefulness of your company's products, websites, internal applications. We'd like to help you answer these questions, and we think they probably sound something like this:
- Where are we losing money or opportunity?
- Why are people leaving my website without buying?
- I've read about some usability methods and want to implement them, but which ones should I choose?
- Why is customer support so inundated?
- I'm about to start a new product development initiative; how can I build usability in?
These seem like simple questions, but sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees. Often, evaluating what's wrong with a product can be answered by a few customer interviews. Determining how to fix an issue can be accomplished through a competitive evaluation, whiteboard design sessions, or basic task analysis.
Product Development Lifecycle
We do not specifically advocate any specific development philosophy: Agile, XP, waterfall, and MSF are all appropriate ways to architect a product, assuming that specific attention has been paid to the culture of your developer organization, your development goals, and the type of product you are developing.
We align our services with three basic phases which loosely track with most development lifecycles: Plan, Develop, Deploy.
- During the Plan phase, we can take baseline measurements from any existing versions of the product, set goals for usability, quality, and market fit, and do upfront customer research and analysis.
- In the Develop phase, we can work with your developers and product managers to iteratively design the product, while testing prototypes with customers and validating requirements throughout.
- During Deployment, we can evaluate quality, validate usability and market fit, and address launch and support issues such as development of documentation, final testing, and compilation of requests for future enhancements.
If you are interested in contacting The Usability Team about user-centered design services, please visit their Contact Us page for phone numbers and email addresses.