“I would not want Kim’s job,” a Cre8asiteforums member wrote. After 14 years in the usability field, I am ready to quit because I work in a field that demands proof before it is believed in.
Even when the proof is obvious, such as asking us to sign up before we have been granted access to the website, or the inability to read text on a page or understanding where to go next on a site, the chances of hiring a usability professional to recommend repairs is as painful to site owners as getting a root canal. And at least you get relief for the pain at the dentist.
The usability (UX) industry has exploded and with it, salaries in excess of $100, 00 US to design web sites and software applications that are easy to use. However, just because a user experience designer is hired does not automatically mean they know anything about information architecture, accessibility, functional testing, and human factors. The amount of education needed to do the job properly, let alone using the right tools, is not something companies like to invest in.
Online marketers are the last to understand usability and where it fits into their methodology. During one of my talks at a marketing conference, a member of the audience argued with me about making links visible. For SEO’s who spend their time optimizing for algorithms, the suggestion to design for people is clearly too much for them to bear.
Discussions in Cre8asiteforums describe the main reason web site owners will not invest in usability testing or building usable websites. It boils down to wanting proof that UX is needed. Every site owner believes their web site is perfectly fine and they don’t want to know if it is not. If their Google Analytics or click tracking software signals conversions issues, they pounce on their online marketer to fix the problem – never thinking that their web design is the trouble.
Test Web Sites from the Start
User experience design starts from the white board stage and continues after the site goes live. Design changes never end. User experience includes usability heuristics, business and site requirements for everything from devices to targeted user behavior. Usability includes accessibility compliance, information architecture and persuasive design. Readability, understandability, and functionality are part of usability. You can’t possibly know how your site will perform before it has a chance to be used, but a trained usability professional can plan for the best possible outcomes that only require minor tweaks after roll-out.
Believing that a site design is a once and done deal is a huge mistake.
When was the last time you had a favorite site to buy shoes and suddenly a competitor came out with better prices, easier navigation and the ability to order from their mobile device? That competitor is testing. What are you doing? That competitor knew who to design for. They tested their wireframes. They tested their mobile application. They checked their analytics, logs, conversions results and made adjustments for improvements. They reacted. They never stopped designing, studying and looking for new opportunities.
Are you testing your website? Do you know how it is being used? Despite all the questions a site owner may have, hiring a usability professional to conduct a site audit is nearly always out of the question because there is no money to spend on something that may or may not help.
And there is apparently nothing I can write or say to convince site owners otherwise.
Here is proof:
Why Do Companies Invest In Marketing Rather Than Web Design?
As a webdev I could blend in whatever holistic optimisation I believed in; a specialist, i.e. Kim::UI/X, is selling a component – at best, an extra – at worst. It is much easer, to use a fast food example, to sell ‘a meal’ than it is to sell a burger and a fries and a drink. It is also harder to ‘supersize’ an order especially without an attached apparent super value.
Step 1: Get real examples of successes of the actions you recommend, so you can have them in your ready-made, ready-to-show, portfolio.
Step 2: Create big dramatic, colorful graphs that highlight those successes.
Step 3: Tell Mr. Prospect he’s missing out on a crapload of money, but you’d be happy to hand it to him in buckets.
Step 4: Show him how you handed buckets of cash to previous clients.
Step 5: Tell him if he signs the contract now, you can get started immediately, but if not, he’ll go to the back of the long waiting line.
I wouldn’t want to be in the market of strictly focusing on UX, so kudos to you, Kim, for pushing for people to learn more.
Every SEO hired to market a web site is like a person alone on a remote island somewhere, with a stick in the sand writing “SOS” on the beach in the hopes their island will be seen and their paradise will be found. The word “SOS” is a universal phrase for help. It will be understood by a pilot flying over the island, but will not be seen by the ship quietly gliding past the island miles out to sea. The island natives don’t speak or understand the human language. The SEO is going to need to understand something more about search and predicting not only what words to use, and who will see them, but how, where, why, when and in what format they are found.
This is why every SEO needs UX.