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Making the Business Case for User-centered Design Strategically – David Siegel

Date: February 7, 2007
Speaker: 
David Siegel — Dray & Associates

Our field has been overly preoccupied with return on investment (ROI) as the basis for making the business case for user centered design (UCD). However, experience has shown that the most brilliant ROI analysis may often not win the day in the real world of business. Cost justification and (ROI) is often not persuasive, especially when we are talking to strategic level decision makers. At a certain point in the evolution of UCD, ROI arguments may have helped us gain credibility and get “a foot in the door.”

However, excessive dependence on ROI arguments can have some destructive effects. To be convincing, ROI analysis has to focus on easily measured variables that impact near-term outcomes. This can distort the way the value of our contribution is conceptualized and recognized, and artificially isolates UCD from other factors that affect the product’s ultimate success. Even more important, it can lock us into a peripheral tactical role where we address only modest incremental improvements. It can work against our field’s efforts to get involved earlier in the product planning process where we can have a more decisive impact and potentially contribute to strategic risk reduction.

David will discuss the dynamics of persuasion and harder-to-quantify factors that can make the business case for UCD more compelling to strategic decision makers. He will talk about how to position UCD with strategic decision makers who are pursuing fundamentally new initiatives, entering new markets, looking for order-of-magnitude benefits, or facing major risks. He will provide examples of specific cases where ROI arguments may be weak, but other kinds of persuasion may be very compelling.

About the Speaker
David A. Siegel, Ph.D. has worked with Dray & Associates, Inc. since 1993. He carries out field user studies and contextual research, usability evaluation, design consultation, and expert evaluation of interface designs. His practice has increasingly emphasized higher-level user experience issues, and he is involved in work to assess and improve the fit of new product concepts in developing markets. He has consulted on many software applications, Web designs, and designs for new technologies. He played a leading role in the pre-release field trials of Microsoft’s Tablet PC, which led to significant changes in functionality and design.

David has published numerous articles and book chapters on a variety of user-centered design topics, and has taught many workshops and tutorials around the globe. Together with Dr. Susan Dray, he edited the Business Column in ACM’s magazine, interactions. He is currently on the editorial board of User Experience, the magazine of the Usability Professionals Association. David received his B.A. in psychology from Princeton University and his Ph.D. in psychology from UCLA.

Presentation Files
Download the slides (225 KB .zip)

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