RE: [agile-usability] Usability Cost-Benefit (was: Kidnapping users)
When you say that:
"functional software can be developed and tested with ad hoc UIs which are later reworked to conform to emerging UI designs."
Is usability testing included in the word "tested"?
Also, do you find that by seeing the software running with such ad hocs UIs the UCD part of the team learns things that influence their design effort?
Finally, don't you run into situations where the customer thinks that the the adhoc UI is perfecltly fine and wants to ship the product with it (the dreaded throwaway prototype being shipped as a final product situation)?
No, usability testing is intended to find remaining usability problems in the UI as designed, not in a functional mockup or proof-of-concept prototype.
I would not say we never change our design based on running prototypes, but it is not the normal experience, in part because the UI of the POC prototype is, as to be expected, not very good. We are more likely to refine our ideas after genuine usability testing of the final UI.
We try to head off the last problem by carefully managing what and when we show clients. In particular, we avoid as much as possible showing clients early design concepts or prototypes. We want the first look to be pretty much what they will get. You can also manage this problem by making sure that a POC prototype does not look TOO good nor work TOO well. (E.g., leave visual components unaligned, don’t optimize access times, etc. Keep saying, “This is just a prototype, the real system will be much better.”) Think about a bread-boarded prototype in electronics. No one in their right mind would think of shipping that to consumers.
--Larry Constantine, IDSA