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What would you for look for in a usability service?

 11:51 pm on Mar 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Hi everyone, I'd just like to know if you were to engage the services of a usability company, what would you be looking for when you go to their web site? Price, experience, locality, etc.




 12:02 am on Mar 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

What would you be looking for when you go to their web site?

Hmmm, on quick review of your profile, I might ask that same question of you.

What would you be looking for? ;)


 12:59 am on Mar 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

That's part of the job, user research. :)


 5:24 pm on Mar 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

I see you are a Usability Consultant. Why don't you list what you consider and we can see if anyone can think of something you missed.


 1:07 am on Mar 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

Hmmm a forum on Accessibility and Usability and you guys want a me to prompt you. It's pretty simple really. Would price govern your decision on using a usability expert or maybe experience or maybe the fact that they work locally and can visit you to discuss your needs face to face, or maybe it's even their client base.

There does that give you a good start?


 2:17 am on Mar 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

I just thought you might like share your skills here. This is a new forum to Webmaster World and expertise like yours would be a great addition.

Meanwhile we can help you figure out what else you need to add to your service. Isn't that why you asked the question in the first place?


 2:30 am on Mar 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

whoops, part of my message didn't make it though.

On your questions, I think it would depend on the client how much price would come in, also how well known you are in the field. Mostly people would want to know you were top notch in the field. I guess that is why I wondered what you would cover. What would you tell a client about what you do? Not to tell your secrets but to let them know what your service can do for them. I imagine most people don't have a clue how much has to be considered in usability and assessability. How do you show them how important it is and why they need an expert?

I really don't think most people have a clue that usability is even important much less what it involves. Most are more concerned about getting found in Google and such. Note the number of messages a day in Google News compared to this forum.

Local or not depends on your target clients. If they are active online they probably don't care about face to face but if they are local people who are just getting their feet wet in terms of a website yes, do meet with them. That will reassure them a lot.


 10:22 pm on Mar 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

Thanx Annej

I didn't want to talk about my business as I didn't think it was allowed here. I agree with what your saying about people not seeing the real benefits in usability. The fact that it can increase search engine placement, and increase sales due to a better user experience is enough for me to see there is a need for this service, that's for sure. I've got a quote on my website,

"Bad news travels fast. A dissatisfied shopper tells around 10 other people about the shopper's bad experience."

Seems to speak volumes to me as this can be applied to any type of online business, but how do I get that message out there? That's why I have asked the question, but now I see it's a bit irrelevant as most people don't know what I'm talking about:)

But thanx again for your responses.


 12:56 am on Mar 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

>>>>> Seems to speak volumes to me as this can be applied to any type of online business, but how do I get that message out there?

Ask them if their VCR was easy to use. To do what they wanted. Were the instructions clear?



 1:01 am on Mar 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

In the thread at [webmasterworld.com...]
DrDoc mentioned that good usablity/accessability and being search engine friendly involve much the same things. He didn't say it just like that but it has me thinking that we could use this in helping people understand the importance of usability. As mentioned in that thread, search engines are the most disabled of all. Things have to be made really clear and obvious for them.

I'm sure you already know your biggest need isn't to find what people want in a usability consultant. They don't have a clue. You have to convince them that they even need such a thing.


 10:08 am on Mar 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

w3cdesign, have you read "don't make me think" from Steve Krug? I think 'real user' testing would be the most important on my list of things - with live video feed to see them in action.


 10:11 pm on Mar 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

Yeah I have read that book and really liked it and I do provide a service where by I record a usability test and provide feedback via a dvd copy and a written report. But, like many who start a service online I'm looking at the best ways to get people to see the benefits of my work to their online business.

I've already started thinking along the lines of making my site more understandable for the average online business owner and how I can wrap usability into a marketing package.


 3:48 pm on Mar 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

What would you be looking for when you go to their web site?

One of the first things I'd be looking at is the message that site sends. I'd also run it through the validator to see if the pages were valid. And if they were not, I'd look real close at the errors being generated. Then I'd take that same site and run it through a few of the tools like Bobby and others. If the site doesn't pass WAI Level A, I won't go past the home page.

Typically the above two tests will disqualify 95% of the companies that have sprung up out there claiming to be Accessibility and Usability experts.

It's a very simple and effective test. You have to walk the walk before you can talk the talk. Without first understanding basic html markup and what invalid markup can do to usability, you've missed the most important part of the equation.


 4:16 pm on Mar 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

Consumer Warning!

I should also make it a point that consumers need to be very careful when seeking out companies to assist with their Accessibility and Usability requirements. It's unfortunate that this is an area that consumers are not going to have much education in. If they did, they wouldn't be coming to you in the first place.

If you are a company offering these types of services, all of your ducks better be lined up perfectly. And no, you can't have one duck missing or one with a broken leg, those ducks need to be in top shape and good health.

If a client comes to you because they have Usability issues and have been informed that their site must meet WAI Level A Guidelines, you better be able to perform that service without fail and promptly. No fumbling around reading through the guidelines that you may have never read before.

So, as a warning to consumers, I would do a little homework first before hiring a company to assist you with your Usability and Accessibility requirements. Many companies I've seen that have recently sprung up in this space have purchased a copy of AccVerify or a similar program and can run all sorts of pretty tests for your site. Wow! Big deal, I can do that from within FrontPage. Testing and understanding the results are two different things. A company can easily run a report for your website in less than 15 minutes (depending on size) and charge you a hefty fee for something you can get online for free. So please, be careful.

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