Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Self-service and the (possible?) recession

Usability may become one of those self-service outcomes ...

"Is this country teetering on the edge of a recession?

Depends on who you talk to, I guess. If you believe this doomsday YouTube rant by the always-animated Jim Cramer, host of MSNBC’s “Mad Money”, (and if I were you, I’d check it out because it’s pretty darn funny toward the end) then you’re probably ready to make a run on the bank and hide in your bomb shelter.

... What she worries about is a downturn in the quality of self-service deployments as companies eager to cut costs in a tight economy might decide to shortcut certain design processes and make a beeline straight for assembly and deployment. Design is something Bodine says some kiosk manufacturers have a hard enough time focusing on in a good economy – in a sub-standard one, she says it’s almost certain to suffer.

“I spend a lot of time looking at the kiosk industry, and compared with other self-service technology channels like the Web, the kiosk industry is really far behind in terms of understanding some of these design processes and methodologies,” she said.

Specifically, she’s referring to methodologies that focus on identifying and pleasing the prospective kiosk user, such as conducting ethnographic research, usability testing, focus groups and analytics. Unfortunately, she says some kiosk deployers and manufacturers have such a tenuous grasp of R&D that they don’t know which methodologies to use.

“If you want to know if your system is easy to use, you can’t run a focus group to find that out. That’s something that I do see in the kiosk industry a lot,” she said. “They use focus groups for everything because it’s really the one primary tool that they understand. Instead you should either be conducting an expert review…running a usability lab test – there are a lot of ways to evaluate usability, but not through a focus group.”

Bodine fears the economy may drive some companies to eliminate usability testing altogether and rush substandard deployments to market. She says this approach could seriously hurt the industry."    (Continued via Self-Service)    [Usability Resources]

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