Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Secret Usability Kung Fu Death Grip!

Usability "secrets" ...

"If you've ever seen a kung-fu movie, you're probably familiar with this story: kung-fu master has a secret technique, master trains worthy student, student uses technique to gratuitously beat everyone to a pulp. The idea of a secret technique known only to a selected few has always been a popular one, promising fame and glory to whoever can unlock that secret.

Unfortunately, I see this same mentality too often in the way people run their websites and e-businesses. Otherwise rational people desperately want to believe that there are usability, SEO, and marketing secrets, and if they can just get the so-called experts to reveal those secrets, the money will flow like water.

Secrets Are Good Marketing

Secrets sell. Even the kung-fu cliché is based on real history: martial arts schools were often businesses competing for wealth and power, and protecting their "secrets" from the masses increased their allure and demand for new students. In much the same way, web professionals have learned that dangling a secret recipe in front of a prospective client can be much more lucrative than trying to explain difficult concepts and long-term strategies.

The Bullet Point Mentality

Unfortunately, we're all a bit lazy, and we tend to adopt a bullet-point mentality about things we don't understand. In other words: don't bother me with all of the gory details, just give me the bullet points. We flock to "Top 10" blog posts and "101 Tips" articles, hoping to find the secret sauce poured over a few bite-sized pieces. There's nothing wrong with trying to simplify difficult concepts, but when we reduce everything to a bulleted list, the end result can become so over-generalized and ambiguous that it's impossible to effectively apply to any given situation.

It Only Looks Like Magic

Another problem is that experience has a way of making things look easy. This is one of the hardest parts of being a consultant, in my experience. A skilled usability or SEO specialist can look at a site and spot many major problems in less than 15 minutes, leaving clients thinking that what we do is easy or just the result of some secret we aren't sharing. The reality, though, is that our gut reactions and ability to spot problems is often a result of seeing similar problems hundreds of times."    (Continued via User Effect)    [Usability Resources]

Usability Master - Usability, User Interface Design

Usability Master


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