Misconceptions About Usability

Misconceptions about usability’s expense, the time it involves, and its creative impact prevent companies from getting crucial user data, as does the erroneous belief that existing customer-feedback methods are a valid driver for interface design…. Market research methods such as focus groups and customer satisfaction surveys are great at researching your positioning or which messages to choose for an advertising campaign. They are not good at deciding user interface questions — in fact, they’re often misleading. | When a group of people is sitting around a comfortable table munching snacks, they’re easily wowed by demos of a website’s fancy features and multimedia design elements. Get those people to sit alone at a computer, and they’re likely to leave the same website in short order. —Jakob NielsenMisconceptions About Usability (Alertbox)

Jakob is two-for-two in my book… his last column (“Usability 101) was also a retrenching and a return to basics. He’ll never change the opinions of the uber-designers who despise him, but by continuing to provide a clear, easily linkable, not-too-geeky message, he’ll reach people who haven’t already been touched by the “design it becuase it looks cool” bug.