giving up gurus

Is a high priced usability “Guru” a good investment? is an interesting and brutaly honest look at what […]

Is a high priced usability “Guru” a good investment? is an interesting and brutaly honest look at what you get when you buy guru-usability. He makes several good points including the fact that gurus don’t know *your* audience: “even the best usability Guru is unlikely to have a suitable understanding of your customer profile and their critical cognitive structures, such as prior learning, experience with other software, and motivation”

worth a read…


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  1. 3

    To echo Jess’ mention of empathy, I’d also say that all IA/UX people should spend some time with computer newbies. I’m not talking about user testing, I’m talking about hanging out with mom and learning what concepts are difficult. I worked tech support throughout college, and honestly, that helps me more on a daily basis than my psychology degree.

  2. 5

    I’m eager to hear more suggestions for the universal set. I’m wondering too: are there any “apprenticeship” skills that are specific, but also necessary for all IAs? (At coffe the other day Dave Robertson of Critical Mass suggested that documentation is one such foundational skill for an IA, while I’d suggest that understanding classification is one) What do you think? Any more broad skills like Communication? Any specific skills like Documentation?

  3. 6

    I believe the apprenticeship should include visualization of concepts skills training and learning to compile a digital knowledge base. The visualization skills is important to help a client understand what is being proposed. As many of the concepts and approaches we put forth are not familiar to the client and the client’s buy-in to the approach is important for the project to progress, the ability to put these elements in easy to understand terms and visual elements will help greatly. The digital knowledge base is great for sharing lessons learned, storing/searching/reusing documentation, and easy storage and retrieval of a projects decision tree (what decisions affected what elements and outcomes). The knowledge gained in a project is even more valuable if it can be reused or repurposed. Keeping this infomation in a digital store that is searchable or chunked with strong metadata and microcontent will ease the success we find in the future.

  4. 7

    Knowledge of business – I’m not expecting IAs to have MBAs, but a survey course in marketing is quite useful since it covers the outward “getting stuff to market” aspects of a business that’s essential for understanding the bigger picture.

  5. 8

    “Whether a web site is engaging and usable” is only partly (if strongly) “determined by human psychology and physiology.” Usability isn’t even half the battle. The rest of the challenge, I think it is by now clear, lies in the realm of emotion and intuition.

  6. 9

    Also, does anyone have recommendations for a book/site for those of us whose last statistics class was, hmmm, 8 years ago? Similar to the “Biology for non-majors” course they implemented the year after I took it….

  7. 13

    Seriously, to dismiss the creativity of science educated folks is as ill-informed as to say that those visual designers are all just obsessed over Flash intros and design awards…

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