Saturday, July 21, 2007

User Experience 2007 Survey Report

The Usability and User Experience Report 2007 from e-consultancy costs money, but the sample data are interesting enough to post about. There were 756 respondents to the survey that fed this report. (Hopefully it represents more than just the UK, where the consultancy that did the survey is based.)

Some highlights:

  • On average, organisations are investing 11.5% of their overall website design and build budgets in usability, and 13.2% of their design budgets. [If you're spending none, or you don't even know what you're spending, this may be an Issue for you.]
  • A quarter of agency / consultancy correspondents say their clients are typically indifferent whereas only 9% say their clients are extremely committed. [I admit I find this surprising -- if you've been hired as a consultant, doesn't that suggest they care? Or is the evaluation of caring based on more complex factors, such as "are you listening to my advice," "is there anyone else in your organization advocating for this," "is it likely anything will change after I leave."]
  • Top benefits/ROI for commitment to user experience and usability included as number one and two, improved perception of brand, and increased conversion rates. [Since brand is now being defined as what a customer thinks of you and what and how you do it, rather than your logo and graphic design [see, e.g., the Brand Gap], this makes a lot of sense to see here.]
  • Two thirds of the respondents say their agencies plan to increase their spending on usability in the next year.
  • The activities that are being "done" in organizations are, in order of frequency, user testing, expert evaluation, information architecture; and lagging behind, "full user-centered design" [a rigorous process that incorporates testing and design during the definition and development cycle].
  • The largest barriers are time pressure to get things done and lack of resources. [We still have a ways to go to educate businesses about the risk factors in not being more rigorous about the processes for good design up front, it seems.]
  • Project management is either not done, or being done "ad hoc." [Coincidentally, I've just written an article for interactions, a professional journal for designers, on the ways in which designers get lured away from doing design and into project management, in order to be sure that things get done. Timely!]

The full report costs $179.


steve said...

In the spirit of amusing Lynn and her regular readers ..

Last year two of us did a piece of technical work for the government (basically some applied physiscs). It needed to happen "right now" and serious mil-spec project management was applied.

18.4% of the budget went to the two of us and to cover some of our costs. The rest, presumably, went to the 9 people who were assigned to follow the project and "manage" it. One was a professional powerpoint expert who took our ppts and reformatted them to proper spec (which meant changing the headers, footers, date and coming up with a cover design -- none of the content was touched).

Our piece was ready in 5 months, but we learned they took another 2 months before presenting it. The final presentation was content identical to what we had created working with our internal project management (the two of us talking and seeing where each other was).

There are efficient parts of the government, but the military bureaucracy - where it interfaces with new gadgets and toys - isn't one among them.

One of the most amusing stories I've heard (I've seen it printed, but it may be folklore) is the F-80 design proposal went to at least two companies. The winning company looked at the proposal and decided they knew how to do it (this was the legendary Skunkworks) - rather than work on documentation, they delivered a working prototype at the due date on speculation. Of course, this was an organization with god-like creativity and a leader to match.

Lynn said...

Yeah -- and I've just learned I could get paid as a Powerpoint professional, wow!

Urgency always amuses me -- it's a tool to terrify the workers, usually, and not anything Real in that little hangs on it, unless you're saving lives. And in the case of FEMA, we've seen how their project management and bureaucracy worked.

steve said...

I probably shouldn't vent on the use of PowerPoint, but my experiences with various organizations is interesting.

Much of what I do is equation rich and with supporting text and graphics. My tools of choice, are Pages (low end, but elegant word processor) and LaTeX for complex documents. Keynote for presentations because I like the interface and it handles pdf natively - so equations and graphs are easy to handle.

Some organizations demand MS Word and PPT - I ask them why Acrobat versions of the documents aren't acceptable and they admit they cut and paste into internal documents - removing the work from context can be very misleading. (but it is their dime)

One organization demanded I reduce everything to a 30 page or less foil pack - this was a 140 page document with at least 100 equations. They admitted there was no one on their staff who could understand the work (gasp) and they just wanted a brief summary so they could create a plan of action. Under protest I made a Keynote version and gave them the Acrobat. They screamed, but didn't have the money to pay me to convert to PP (they never specified PP - they just asked for a deck). Apparently they had an internal web designer scan the equations and post jpgs into PP while trying to copy the text by hand.

An observation. Organizations that communicate ideas primarily through the exchange of PP decks tend to be maladroit technically. A few of the organizations I've worked with are razor sharp and internal communications tend to be richer - two of them have banned PP except during talks.

This probably isn't a good way to judge organizations, but it works for me so far...

Oh - there is a inverse correlation with getting paid on time without hassle and heavy use of PP..

anecdotal - small sample size, but ...

Lynn said...

You may be right about the payment on time and PP. I think people shoot people, not powerpoint, but I have to admit I'm shocked when consulting agencies deliver reports in PP, not in a document. I think PP is for presentations, not report deliverables, and if it's being used for reports, there's something wrong with the organization that did that.

I have been guilty of NOT writing reports under time pressure, but I don't think my PP decks are a replacement, they're just the only deliverable we/they got around to paying for -- eventually.