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collaboration-in-context

independent
design

collaborative
design

usability
reviews

usability
inspections

coaching and
mentoring

process
improvement
and change

We provide a range of consulting, evaluation, and design services in the areas of software and Web usability. In addition to our own expertise, we draw on our Consulting Associates and our network of colleagues to meet even the most demanding client needs. If we cannot provide the services you need, we will do our best to help you find them.

collaboration-in-context

integrated design help and training

Collaboration-in-Context is an innovative new service that provides project teams with regular, ongoing access to help on design problems along with efficient, sharply focused training directly related to and fully integrated into current work. Collaboration-in-Context combines on-site and off-site work in a package that is much more affordable than conventional consulting. We help you find better solutions faster, tackling the tough problems together and providing review, feedback, and guidance on your work. As opportunities arise, we create short, tightly-focused learning experiences for your team to acquire new skills and techniques for application to current problems. To make efficient use of everyone’s time, collaborative sessions are regularly scheduled at intervals, giving teams time to  continue regular work and apply new learning. Between visits, we are available for questions and ongoing support as the need arises. To facilitate budgeting and cost control, these services are offered on fixed contracts for a set number of units, each unit comprising a day of on-site work with the client team and a half-day of off-site consultation. On-site days can be scheduled monthly, twice a month, or every 3 weeks, depending on the pace of the project. The service can be surprisingly economical, with a minimum contract of only 4 units and substantial savings available in exchange for certain concessions, such as a regular schedule and fixed contract in advance. Contact us for pricing and details.

design

independent design

For select clients with particularly challenging problems and applications where usability is a major criterion for success, we carry out independent visual, conceptual, and interaction design work. The scope of design work can range from an isolated subsystem to a complete application and we can work either on-site or off-site. For example, we did the visual and interaction design for the imind integrator, a comprehensive classroom information management solution for K-12 teachers. We completely redesigned the on-line member-services features for a major book club. (See our portfolio for more details on some of our design work.) If you want a world-class design but lack the lead design resources in-house, contact us to discuss pricing and details.

World-class designs result when the creative synergy of a top-rate team is multiplied by the proven power of usage-centered design.

collaborative design

We can work collaboratively as part of your user interface design and usability team just as we have for other clients. The award-winning work with Siemens AG is a good example of the creative synergy possible when an outstanding team of professionals is assembled and then equipped with the gold standard in effective processes and conceptual tools. Often this collaborative work shades over into coaching, mentoring, and training, as we help build the skills of the team in the advanced aspects of usage-centered design. Contact us to explore the possibilities.

evaluation

usability reviews

Usability reviews are scenario-based evaluations by experts in usability and user interface design. An alternative to routinized usability testing or mechanized measurements methods, expert reviews are grounded in the expertise and experience of highly skilled usability professionals guided by established usability rules and principles. Expert evaluations can identify subtle usability problems as well as glaring defects and provide practical guidance for re-design.
 

Expert evaluations can be conducted remotely at our facilities and can be scoped and oriented to fit with specific client needs and objectives for a wide variety of software-based products ranging from commercial Web sites to applications software to automation controls. For a fixed fee that depends on the scope and complexity of the product and the specific objectives of the evaluation, clients receive a complete written report identifying major usability problems and recommending solutions. Pricing is determined after an initial review of the site or application and clarification of the scope and objectives of the evaluation. Contact us for pricing and details.

Usability reviews and usability inspections are rapid, cost-effective alternatives to usability testing.

collaborative usability inspections

We pioneered collaborative usability inspections, which have become a popular and widely used alternative to conventional usability testing or field testing. A specialized form of structured walkthrough that brings together users,  developers, designers, and usability specialists in a carefully orchestrated collaboration, they are fast, easy to learn, and highly efficient. Collaborative inspections of designs and prototypes help designers and developers catch more usability problems earlier while also spreading knowledge and awareness of usability issues among developers. We provide a unique package in which we both train your staff in the techniques and facilitate your first inspection of one of your own systems. Contact us for pricing and details.

consulting

coaching and mentoring

As consultants, we see our job to be one of working ourselves out of a job. Whatever the problem or the formal contract, we see ourselves as collaborators with our clients. Our interest is often as much in the transfer of skills as in the completion of immediate work. We and other members of our team can provide formal training or informal, on-the-job coaching. Contact us to explore how we can help you build and extend your design and usability capabilities to enhance your long-term competitive position.

The real payoffs from usage-centered design come when new practices become an intrinsic part of your organization and its processes.

process improvement and change

Changes in practices require more than just attendance in a training class. Getting the fullest return on an investment in training hinges on the dispersion and institutionalization of new techniques and approaches. Our skills and experience in facilitating organizational change can be applied to orchestrating the entire process of incorporating usage-centered design into your organization. For example,  we helped one of the leading analyst firms to build its in-house capability through training, then facilitated a workshop to outline a customized development process based on usage-centered design. Contact us for help in improving your development processes as well as the products you deliver.