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People shouldn’t be an afterthought in website design

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Users need to be considered early and often. Usability needs to be a part of every step of the design process.

Our approach is pervasive usability – integrating usability into everything we do. Our philosophy is that usability should not be and add-on, but that everyday processes should be modified to be user-centered.

Make usability part of everything you do. Make it a lifestyle. People shouldn’t be an afterthought in design.

Testing and fixing a web site after it’s built is inefficient and unlikely to produce a good design.

Information about users should come as early as possible in the design process, and bad designs need to be weeded out long before you’ve overcommitted to them. Building web sites for people happens from the start.

Our view of how usability must be achieved parallels the modern view of quality assurance.

A hundred years ago, creating a quality product was achieved by hiring a master craftsman and relying on expertise.

As more and more production became automated, quality control shifted to a perspective of testing a product to verify its high quality, a procedure that did not required as much expertise.

But testing is an expensive technique because it can mean that a large number of low-quality products are being produced before being filtered out at the end.

To achieve quality at a reasonable cost, we need to push quality assurance back to the earliest point in the production process.

Today, total quality management (TQM) programs look at every step of the process to ensure that quality isn’t compromised along the way.

This is achieved with appropriate planning, process management, documentation, and verification.

From our perspective, quality assurance is subset of the overall usability goal. After all, a web site isn’t usable if it isn’t working.

Design process is at least as important as design principles. Planning and method are the only reliable, effective mean to achieving usability within other design constraints.

Keywords: pervasive usability, design.


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