Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Various Approaches to Evaluation & Measurement

The distinction between usability and usable ...

"How intranet teams often evaluate and measure for the wrong reasons and without fully grasping what their intranet is for.

Some popular preconceptions about intranet evaluation came under fire in an entertaining and provocative keynote address by James Robertson at this year's IBF Live 2006 event.

His central message was that intranet teams often evaluate and measure for the wrong reasons and without fully grasping what their intranet is for.

James, who is MD of the Sydney-based consultancy Step Two Designs and author of The Intranet Roadmap, argued that users will ultimately determine whether an intranet is successful. Even a perfectly designed and structured site will be useless if it does not provide the information and functionality they need. The key to usefulness is to view the intranet as a business tool, the effectiveness of which is measured in terms of outcomes, not activity.

Successful sites are ones which hold a mirror up to their organisation. And since organisations differ from each other in virtually every respect, there can be no objective measure of the “best” intranet, he insists.

Usability and information architecture techniques have a role to play in an intranet’s evolution, but they are not the complete answer. In fact, redesigning existing content without stepping back to identify user needs is “like putting lipstick on a pig”, he notes.

An interesting distinction was drawn between “usability” and “usefulness”. Usability measures focus on whether an intranet can be quickly and easily used and understood. Usefulness, on the other hand, comes from identifying staff and organisational requirements and finding opportunities to deliver tangible business benefits."    (Continued via Intranet Benchmarking Forum)    [Usability Resources]

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