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A cash crunch at the GNOME Foundation

A cash crunch at the GNOME Foundation

Posted Apr 16, 2014 4:32 UTC (Wed) by Arker (guest, #14205)
In reply to: A cash crunch at the GNOME Foundation by pizza
Parent article: A cash crunch at the GNOME Foundation

On Usability Studies:

"They show you precisely what folks actually get stuck on, as opposed to what they say they get stuck on, or what you think they will get stuck on."

In theory that is what they should do. With enough funding, the right design and careful execution, they can do that. It's hard but not impossible.

But like studies in other fields, they can also give you the results you want, cheaply, quickly, and easily. Good design is difficult, and good experiments can get expensive. And who wants to waste a lot of time and money on a more elaborate experiment than they need to do before they get on with the fun part?

With unlimited resources and a lot of creativity and imagination you might make mockups of a few hundred different systems, built around different design assumptions, following users long term... yeah no one does that. Yet everyone seems to be able to draw from the much more limited work that's been done absolute certainty for their own preferred theories.

So usability studies are no panacea. They need to be looked at skeptically and yes, both designed and evaluated using common sense if you can find any. It seems to be quite rare though.


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A cash crunch at the GNOME Foundation

Posted Apr 16, 2014 13:24 UTC (Wed) by pizza (subscriber, #46) [Link]

> So usability studies are no panacea. They need to be looked at skeptically and yes, both designed and evaluated using common sense if you can find any. It seems to be quite rare though.

FWIW I agree completely with what you said. I've been through this before [1] (albeit only peripherally), and it wasn't the utter skewering of the front-end developers' assumptions that impressed me so much as the massive disconnect between what the end-users/subjects said versus what they actually were doing.

[1] we had some real usability experts contracted to perform the testing, with an explicit goal of "find out what's wrong with this, and why" instead of merely seeking to confirm our obvious brilliance in constructing UIs. :)


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