You would think that by now, most companies would have figured out how, and when, to conduct user testing. But today I have a story from the Northeast, US where a new cable company just rode into town.
They laid all their cable beneath streets and lawns, and heavily marketed themselves as cheaper, faster, and just all around dizzyingly better than the ‘old’ cable company.
My 86 year old father-in-law has taken to adopting new causes every now and again; and this was one. He researched the options, he spent about 3 hours total on the phone with both companies to compare rates (mind you, he doesn’t need an internet connection….just phone and television cable stations). Ultimately, and to my great surprise, he decided to CHANGE!
Poof, just like that, he called and asked, “How do I sound?” “Um, good,” I said. Only then did he tell me that he was using a new cable provider and couldn’t even tell the difference. AND, it was less expensive. That was day one.
Day four he called his new cable company to disconnect the service, and went back to the old standard.
He couldn’t see a damn thing on the television remote. It was so complicated that he couldn’t figure out how to change a channel, and if he stumbled upon the right button (apparently there were dozens) he couldn’t see it so couldn’t remember it for future use.
Here’s the clincher. When the folks came in to disconnect the new cable, he spoke to them. They told him that this was a common complaint, that he wasn’t the only one having difficulty with seeing and operating the remote. In fact, they were removing service as much as installing. “But don’t worry,” they said, “there will be no charge and we’re using all of this feedback as input for a usability study.
Yes, a usability study.
After the fact; after the install; during the uninstall.
I wonder how much that costs? Are lost opportunity costs calculated?
Am I the only one who sees that usability testing is clearly intended to occur BEFORE deployment?