Zeno's Paradox
While critical thinking may not make up for a lack of knowledge, it is essential for gaining knowledge.
Tuesday, July 29, 2003:  
Human Factors, Critical Thinking:
Report Review: Nielsen/Norman Group's Usability Return on Investment (Peter Merholz and Scott Hirsch)
The key strategy is to get businesses to recognize that user experience is not simply a cost of doing business, but an investment–that with appropriate expenditure, you can expect a financial return. Proving a return can be remarkably hard–tying user experience metrics (e.g., reduced error rates, increased success rates) to key financial metrics (e.g., increased sales, improved retention) requires access to data most of us simply don't have. So, we look to others to help make our case, if not specifically for us, for our industry.

This has led to a number of essays, articles, and books on proving the value of user experience. Into this fray steps the Nielsen Norman Group's (NN/g) famously quoted in New Scientist for saying:
“Why do we have so many unusable things when we know how to make them usable? I think it has to do with the fact that the usability advocates don't understand business. Until they understand it and how products get made, we will have little progress.”
Unfortunately, the NN/g report does not seem to follow this advice. Although it does make a reasonable anecdotal case for investing in usability, the report methodology is so fundamentally flawed that any financial analyst worth her salt would immediately question its findings.
Nice attempt at critiquing the Nielsen/Norman report. There are many good points, and many bad as well.

    Information quality:   Medium - Makes some good points, ignores others.
    Propaganda quality:  Medium - Much is poorly written. Needs more editing.
    Propaganda level:     High.

Further information:
First, as I commented earlier, I don't find Nielsen/Norman a credible source, given that they published Intranet Usability: The Trillion-Dollar Question.

Peter makes some good comments about the review in his own weblog.

The best ROI article I know of is Charles Mauro's : Full Report (PDF file, 340kb), summary, my analysis. (Mauro's articles may be temporarily unavailable.)

Aaron Marcus' ROI article is mostly just an accumulation of various roi claims. The generalizations are often very gross, and never is there any consideration of what is required to get the results claimed.

ROI of Usability: A Collection of Links (Rashmi Sinha)

    -  Ron  11:30 AM

Monday, July 28, 2003:  
Title changed from "Ron's Ramblings" from a suggestion by Dennis G. Jerz. What do you think?

    -  Ron  9:01 AM

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