Saturday, June 02, 2007

When ROI Isn’t Enough: Making Persuasive Cases for User-Centered Design

Need for persuasive expertise when showing ROI for UCD ...

"Making the case for user-centered design (UCD) is a topic of recurring discussion for UX professionals. Much of the discussion has centered on strictly objective approaches such as cost-benefit or return-on-investment (ROI) analysis. However, recent commentary suggests proving ROI is not always enough. For example, Dray, Karat, Rosenberg, Siegel, and Wixon have raised concerns about significant weaknesses of the ROI argument, including their concern it ties UCD to tactical, not strategic initiatives. [1]

How can UX professionals address these weaknesses and make their case for UCD convincing? Promising sources of help are the fields of rhetoric and argumentation, specifically the range of persuasive appeals, the consideration of audience, and the structure of informal reasoning. There has been some discussion of rhetoric and UCD. For instance, Carter and Yeats explored the rhetorical function of a video showing highlights from usability testing. [2] However, until recently, there was little in depth discussion about using rhetoric and argumentation to make the case for UCD. A Special Interest Group session at CHI 2006 tackled this subject, resulting in a lively and useful discussion. [3] Additionally, during management panels at CHI 2006, executives at major corporations such as Intuit and Reed Elsevier stressed the need for UX professionals to articulate arguments and be persuasive in a range of situations on projects and in organizations. One even flatly said that the ROI argument “doesn’t work.” [4]

UX professionals clearly need expertise in making persuasive arguments, whether to garner support for a UCD process from executives or convince developers not to resist a UCD decision for a user interface. However, this kind of expertise is usually not an explicit focus of our training or education. To help you develop such expertise, this article discusses how rhetoric and argumentation inform the strategy, content, and language of making a case for UCD. Specifically, this article

• briefly defines rhetoric and argumentation concepts in the context of UCD issues
• offers practical guidelines and examples

This article does not cover basic interpersonal communication, presentation, or writing skills. These skills are important, but widely covered in other publications and training."    (Continued via UXmatters)    [Usability Resources]


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