who’s the boss?

Boxes and Arrows: Putting a Face on B2B Websites is a good article for a number of reasons, […]

Boxes and Arrows: Putting a Face on B2B Websites is a good article for a number of reasons, one of which is the way it takes on emerging technology use.

It also reminds me of how hard it is to be a consultant and design for an unknown domain. Even though “web” is your bread and butter, it’s the client who has most of what you need to know to design well locked in their head. And considering they don’t like to pay you money to catch up, how do you design well? An inhouse designer/IA for domain unique products is one solution (works for yahoo!), developing a relationship with a company over time is another solution for clients and for the consultant, specializing in a field is another solution (sapient built their business with health-care sites, I’ve heard). And there are many more I’m sure– mixing in-house and out-of-house teams, paying for a “discovery period” or doing discovery for the proposal (someone has to pay for the catch up…)

makes me think.


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  1. 1
    Laurent Goffin

    there is a process in software production process called XP programming that include what they call a business expert during all the time of development. The concept of Business Expert is not unique to XP programming but is really somthing really important. When we work with communication departement of a company, we can find some business expert that have to collaborate as a in house consultant to help us understand the business requirement of the company. Sometimes, for more specialised mission, the best business expert is someone working on the field everyday. The experience of an employee working tomorrow with the customer is something that has no price but often, the aims of a site are disctated by some strategical reason who are often far away of the everyday needs.

  2. 2

    Being successful at any kind of consulting — not just Web consulting — requires the ability to assimilate domain knowledge quickly. That means both asking the right questions and paying close attention to the answers. There’s plenty of good consulting going on beyond the Web; we just have to be able to figure out what makes it good, and apply those techniques to our own work.

  3. 3
    B. Merkey

    I had a different take on the page title. I make GUIs for browser-based applications. That means I have the honor of fighting all comers, esp. in management, who are constantly forgetting who the real boss is. I put together, and got agreement on, a high-level statement of coding design which serves me as rattles serve the rattlesnake.

    This is the culminating paragraph of the high-level design doc:

    Remember Who the Boss Is
    Avoid the temptation to add showy or high-tech effects not wedded to the usability of a page. Simplicity, ease of use, consistency, and attractiveness are what our users ultimately will respond to. The guiding principle of the [product excised] is that the user is the ultimate boss and the business needs of our users determine the direction of our development.”

  4. 4

    There is plenty of bad consulting beyond the web also– consultants had a bad rep before the dotcom boom.

    I’d be interested in learning more about combination teams of internal and external groups, and how their dynamics work (and don’t work)

  5. 8
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