Merholz / Shedroff on User-Centered Design

In reference to the Digital Web Magazine article, “An interview with Peter Merholz and Nathan Shedroff on User-Centered Design:”

I know Peter doesn’t need any ego stroking, but shit, his answers to the questions in this interview are exceptional! The questions themselves are pretty run-of the-mill, but Peter’s done a really nice job of answering them in a way that’ll get “business people” all worked up about UCD. I’m going to delete Shedroff’s answers and spread it around my department.

Being the even-handed guy that I (usually) am, I have to admit that Nathan did make one comment that got me all excited. In response to a question about selling usability, he said:

“However, the problem usually lies in the fact that the effects of these changes almost always lie in other divisions of a company (such as marketing or customer service and, therefore, aren’t a real concern to the division purchasing the development work (since it doesn’t impact their bottom line).”

Bear with me as I make the jump from UCD to Experience Design:

This illustrates, quite well, one of the reasons why a user experience group must be its own organization, rather than a piece of some parent group. If, say, the ED group is part of a larger Development group, what incentive does that Development group have to pay for having its employees study and fix problems with the order-processing system or how feedback flows from the Support phone lines to the Marketing folks, for example?

Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about these organizational issues. Is anyone out there (besides Lou) thinking where the experience design organization belongs in a company? Maybe you’ve been thinking about this? Let’s talk!

Oh yeah – note to Meryl K. Evans: get a new editor. There were a boat-load of typos in that interview.