DonnaM » Blog Archive » A great comment on UCD

A great comment on UCD

Kevin posted an amazing comment about UCD, card sorting and IA on one of my old posts – go read it.

4 Responses to “A great comment on UCD”

  1. Ron Zeno Says:

    “The fundamental problem with all the card sorting, contextual analysis, etc. is seeking to replace creative insight based on wide-ranging education and experience with a few staid formulas.”

    Nice! A strawman argument invoking fear! Heaven forbid “creative insight” (whatever that means) is replaced! Egads! ;)

    “transcending both born instinct and scientific method.”

    Wow! Great propaganda all around. Impressive!

    “UCD folks had best realize that the card sorting can and will be done by outsourcers in India, online. If you can

  2. Kevin Says:

    Ron,
    Sorry, I can’t sum up creative insight in a step-by-step approach for you >:-o

    At least, I made the attempt to make a contribution here… one that did not consit only of negative criticism.

    Donna made an earlier point about card sorting, how at an informal survey of designers at a seminar, the vast majority used card sorting ONLY to inform their designs. All those corporate UI journeymen found themselves a piece of driftwood in the sea of real-world nebulousness swirling through their cubicles and they latched onto it for dear life.

    I say better to scuttle it and make them learn to swim.

    Here’s something concrete for you: how often is the bottom-line result used to prove the design benefit? Ever see ROI comparison made between designers with a track record as creative entities and those equipped only with their formulas?

    Me neither. But how else would the large digital design businesses and hacks survive in this industry? What else could have led to the monotounous, if easy to use, pointlessness of today’s digital interfaces?

    Like I said, where we need to be is “Zen and the Art of User Interface Design”.

    Consider this design target: customer access to TV .

    Ordinary mind: hmm.. well, knobs located in front, red power button, red LED even better; maybe the s-video plug up front, too; shiny cases are fashionable, so that’s good; include speakers if cheap enough… don’t forget a nice remote.

    Zen mind: Tivo!

    The first approach adopts the standards while trying to improve on the trivial details. Usability tests up the yin-yang. Competitive analysis scorecards by the dozens. Design that is accepted, low-risk, low-margin, not needed.

    The second cuts through to the users’ core issues, hits close to the bulls-eye and earns a fortune in the process.

    Get it?

  3. Ron Zeno Says:

    “At least, I made the attempt to make a contribution here… one that did not consit only of negative criticism.”

    - So did I. I hope everyone can do the same.

    “Ever see ROI comparison made between designers with a track record as creative entities and those equipped only with their formulas?”

    - A couple actually. The creatives do much poorer and complain that they are being judged unfairly. Both groups can become hopelessly dependent upon confirmation bias to support their positions.

    “Monotonous, if easy to use”

    - Neither actually.

    “Zen and the Art of User Interface Design”.

    - I don’t understand. Are you referring to Pirsig, Herrigel, or someone else’s work?

    Ordinary mind vs Zen mind!?! I’m afraid it’s just another straw man argument: http://skepdic.com/refuge/ctlessons/lesson9.html.

    I still don’t know what Kevin is so passionate about. I hope he can clarify it for all without resorting to more straw man arguments.

    And to correct my Rodney Dangerfield quote, “He really seems to care. About what I have no idea.”

    Myself, I have a lot of respect for people who effective use tools (formulas, methods, whatever) within the limits that the tools actually work. Misapplying a tool is a waste of time. Dismissing a tool because it can be misapplied is worse.

  4. donna Says:

    Ron said “Donna has some good insights into the problems she has had with card sorting. But she doesnt give us enough information to make it clear if she is applying card sorting properly or effectively.”

    You are right – I probably don’t provide enough information. But, you know, I actually do know how to apply it correctly. I don’t know how I’d easily prove that here, so keep your eyes out for a B&A article in around 3 weeks…