So, in the comments I pointed towards a new task in our project lifecycles… a Usability Excursion. We’d all be pretty familiar with ‘bringing users in’ to look at usability issues, etc. but what about us heading out into the wild and observing? True, would only be valid for certain products, but extremely valuable for those certain products! Wouldn’t you agree? If you’ve read Rob’s post then I think you would. ;0)
The interesting part in all of this for me, is who you take with you? In my comment I referenced marketing. They would find extremely valuable information from such an excursion. Could just be as simple as viewing how 4 out of 5 people use a certain function, then angle your marketing to suit that use (or an upgrade to that function, etc.). I think that once again this would depend greatly on the product and who the users are. Rob’s use of his time while travelling is great, but what other areas are there? Would you need to be very selective in tems of the environments you plan to visit, or do you just head out and go for a broad range? Once again, would all come back to context!
I think there is some definite value in this.
Another possible angle would be to take the product with you… get some people to use it and see what they think. Would they buy it? What’s their first reaction? What’s their first complaint (if there is one)?
Are people already doing this?
What do you think your PM’s reaction to this would be? Would they be happy to schedule the time? Could be a hard sell, but may be worth a try.