Q: Our company conducts usability studies on our major products, but most of the recommendations never seem to make it into the released products. I’m tired of seeing the same problems every release. How can I encourage my management to make more changes based on results of our usability tests?

If management isn’t implementing changes based on usability tests, they might not be convinced of the value of the data you’ve collected, or they might not be convinced of the value of usability.

We find that tying the usability data you have to bottom-line business metrics can convince management of the value of the data. For example, if you can show that Problem A reported in a usability study currently costs the company a certain dollar amount in Tech Support costs every year, and that Problem B caused the company to lose a certain dollar amount in sales, then the company will be more likely to follow the recommendations about Problems A and B that came from your usability test.

And, if you suspect management may not be that vested in usability, start a dialog with them to understand why. Did they have a bad experience with a past vendor or employee? Are they lacking in a basic understanding of User-Centered Design? Pinpoint the actual reasons they are reticent to follow through, then work to educate and involve them so they can see the process. We maintain that one of the best ways to get management buy-in is to have management actually watch usability research. It’s hard to argue with a struggling, live user in front of you.

Best of luck to you. Check in with us and let us know how things work out!

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