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Institutionalized usability as an integral part of the entire design cycle

When I joined the web design team at Agilent Technologies, the only customer involvement in the entire design process was "late-stage research"-- the type of research you do right before implementation to make sure there aren't any huge showstoppers.

The only thing that can be done with late-stage usability testing is to either delay the project, or feed the learnings into the follow-on project. Clearly not a good way to gain confidence in the usability of the designs.

I brought usability testing into all phases of the website cycle. The diagram below shows the typical stages in designing, developing, and releasing a new website or function, along with the usability testing that is now included throughout the different stages.



This company now has a fully-integrated usability testing program which provides direct customer input at every stage of the process.

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