Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Contextual innovation and usability

Problem of usability as an afterthought ...

"I recently suggested that focusing too much on user data and habits could make for usability at the expense of innovation. As if in answer to that charge, an HFI webcast just a couple of days later introduced me to the concept of "contextual innovation". First, HFI's own description:

Contextual Innovation is a systematic process of inquiry to gain practical knowledge about your target markets. This provides a structured framework for brainstorming sessions in order to develop novel, useful, and effective products and services. This new methodology positions all aspects of design - including R&D - within the social and cultural context of a product's target consumers.

In other words, let your users drive the entire process of product development, not just as after-the-fact focus groups, but by understanding every product within the context of peoples' goals and intentions. Granted, this is a bit different than standard usability, but it's a natural extension of moving usability considerations further up the product development chain.

Being an afterthought has always been usability's biggest challenge. More and more, we're winning the battle of getting people to see that user considerations need to occur early in the design and development process. The idea, though, that the user should be put at the very front of the process is not only pretty revolutionary, but could lead to an entirely different type of R&D."    (Continued via debabblog)    [Usability Resources]

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