I had a very refreshing experience last week. I was invited to speak at the IMRG Usability Workshop in London. The IMRG is the leading industry body for global e-retailing. I wrongly assumed it would be a line-up of user experience practitioners preaching to the not-yet-converted or just slightly sceptical audience of e-retailers about the benefits of usability and how great their companies are at delivering these types of services. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It was a selection of non-usability people talking to an audience of non-usability people about their positive experiences with implementing usability and their return on investment from these activities.
The people speaking weren’t just usability enthusiasts who dabbled in the ‘art’ and wanted to drum up support. They were marketing and online merchandising managers, heads of e-commerce and commercial development, IT directors, and heads of sales who had implemented usability programs and seen the return on their investment and wanted to tell their peers all about it. These are the people who can make a big difference to the UX community.
Although from a practitioner’s point of view, they don’t always get it completely correct, by relaying their positive experiences of implementing usability they’re acting as our ambassadors. They speak the same language as their peers and have similar objectives and goals and can more easily deliver a convincing message. By showing their support (and funding) for integrated usability, and talking to their peers about their experiences, they are delivering a very powerful message and opening the doors to more and more clients. How refreshing!