Day Two of Web Content 2008 started with Jerome Nadel, Chief Experience Officer at Human Factors International
, speaking on Making 2.0 Work For You, Inside and Out
. Within the first ten minutes, Jerome had already contradicted two points made during yesterday’s sessions.
First, he talked about shifting the focus from user-centric design to success-centric design. Second, with success-centric design in mind, the rule that now content
producers have to “relinquish control” is not
true – dialog can be structured to illicit the kind of behavior companies want. What that behavior is then depends on how each company defines “success.” And how success is defined goes back to each company’s strategy.
So before even thinking about design, Jerome said, three key activities that must take place are:
: Decide on the business model and success criteria
: Benchmark where the company stands
: Understand the end users that your company wants to influence
Companies then no longer need to relinquish control because they can in fact build the frame (with the user in mind) to get the desired result. This synchronization of user experience
with business objectives can be achieved through engaging, enabling, connecting and building relationships with users.
Jerome’s argument definitely makes sense from a business point of view. I don’t think he’s saying that user-centric design isn’t important, because it is. He repeatedly emphasized the importance of psychology – understanding the way people think in order to attract, engage and empower them. But over and above that, success-centric design is what will drive profits.
A great example of user-centric meeting success-centric is the taxonomy/folksonomy interaction Jerome talked about. He proposed that taxonomy and folksonomy can work together to create a structured social classification. Taxonomists should consider the folksonomy (user-centric) as they rethink their taxonomy, thus improving the structure over time (success-centric).
The main point made here was to not neglect the strategic aspect of usability. Yes user-centric design is important, but that does not mean all control lies with the user. With the proper understanding and framework, user-centric design can also be success-centric.