The other day I was having a conversation about this new consulting practice & how the concepts of usability studies in the new Agile Development environment many websites & products are built in these days might be a contradictory concept.
Well a topic for another day is Agile Usability Testing, but for now, looking at Seth’s perspective on “it maybe too dangerous to launch prematurely”, customers of web design & development firms & even in-house development teams or outsourced development projects need to focus on how to understand when you DO launch often & even early, how do you determine what problems your target market users have with your design out of the gate?
In other words, if you don’t take the time to assess or instrument your applications to tell you when & where your first users get stuck, why they leave the site & don’t do what you want them to do on the site or why they take longer to do what you want them to do, then you most likely won’t get that extra bump in business you had expected & leave revenue on the table. How much revenue you’re losing just might never be understood either!
To quote Seth, “In the new economy, in the economy of launch and learn and revise, some of the POP! is replaced by Pfffft. Because there’s no big launch, we get more easily distracted, we don’t push ourselves as hard, we don’t treat that first day as as big a deal.”. If it’s not that big a deal then we have to wonder, are we really going to get what we expect out of this updated release? Did we push ourselves hard enough?
But more importantly, how will we KNOW if we’re getting that bang we need – if we aren’t trying to create a new sensation but only targeting those users who already like us, how can we stretch & get more users & customers? We need to build that kind of functionality into our new systems too – so then we beg the question, how do we know if we can or have?
It’s our thought that there is a balancing act here – when does it make sense to do a little bit of usability testing? Does it make sense to “ask” our users / customers to do a little testing for us so that we can truly observe the way they use our new features?
Remember that sometimes our users don’t want to tell us outright what they think – they don’t want to hurt the feelings of those who developed this site they are using, but let an independent process take over & just maybe you’ll get the feedback you want to!
So balance that need for an independent analysis through formal Usability Testing & whether you can determine thru your existing methods whether your users are really using the system the way you thought they would!
So, can Usability Testing, whether in a Lab or over the Web, help you figure all that out BEFORE you launch or when you launch a new set of features?
That’s the operative question for discussion purposes here – so get to it – tell us what you think! Vote first in our poll & then comment away to tell us what you think!