Friday, April 20, 2007

Why Hire a Usability Consultant: What Makes a Good Consultant and How to Work With One

Note: Content for this blog post has been drawn from Usability First: Consulting.

Usability is a multidisciplinary field. As such, a good usability consultant or consulting firm must be able to approach the subject from multiple perspectives. Usability engineering is derived from many disciplines, including computer science, ergonomics, psychology, human performance technology, graphic design, and information science.

An understanding of the end-user also comes from a multidisciplinary approach, with team members representing different perspectives and levels of experience with many web/software projects.

Extensive experience with various usability evaluation methods will enable a usability consultant to apply the appropriate method to a particular project, as not all methods are optimized for all projects.

How to Work With a Usability Consultant
Here are some tips for fostering a working relationship with a usability consultant:

  • Work together to define the scope of the project in order to establish goals and expectations.
  • Know what you want to accomplish with the product.
  • Determine in advance how the changes will be implemented and plan a timeframe and process for the implementation.
  • Keep the end-user as the focus of usability-related changes, not management's expectations.
  • Understand that usability is a process where changes occur over the course of the design and evaluation process.

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