Site Design as Business Decision looks at the user-centered nature of a nonprofit, and the lessons that can be learned by for-profits. Well written interesting article — be sure to read to the end.
“The insidious and damaging obstacle to quality Web sites is a lack of respect for users and a presumptiveness with regard to what they want and need. Indeed, the majority of the companies we spoke with either were involved in or had recently completed major redesigns of their sites, yet most had not invested in any type of usability testing before launch. Formal user surveys were not conducted. Even more disturbing, nearly everyone expressed surprise that we would ask such a question.”
“It may sound arrogant,” says Geric Johnson, vice president of marketing services at shoe manufacturer Skechers, “but we really believe that we are the best judge of what our customers want.”
However, there is hope that the economy may be changing people’s attitudes:
“Savvy businesses are beginning to take the advice of The Usability Group’s Rubin by tying clear and measurable business objectives to site design. Such objectives can be as straightforward as deciding that customer service calls should decrease by 20 percent or that sales leads generated by the site need to increase by 20 percent.”
I don’t know how many times I’ve seen redesigns that have made a site worse. Sometimes they are better looking sometimes they are not but too often they are way harder to use. Conversely “evolutionary” site redesigns where the site slowly changes to meet new needs and features tend to be much more effective (though not always 100%… remember Amazon’s “tab cancer” before they revamped the tab scheme?)
Thorough and thoughtful requirements gathering is a way to protect a redesign’s success.