ad Silicon Tails: John Rhodes' article: Profits First, Users Second

Friday, September 17, 2004

John Rhodes' article: Profits First, Users Second

John Rhodes: Profits First, Users Second
John Rhodes has written a commentary about user-centered design and how it ideally fits into business processes and objectives. While the commentary is interesting and "right on" in my mind, it is also a little scary that fairly obvious insights are even questioned by designers and researchers in industry. Of course we are not in the business of putting users first as John Rhodes phrases it, and of course good design and usability is an investment that needs to drive a profitable return. User-centered design - and we as practitioners of user-centered design - is a means to an end (although some professionals in the CHI community prefer to think of themselves as a God's sent gift to humanity). The question is not whether we need to show the value of our work; the question is how we do work that show business value (unless we want UCD to remain merely an academic exercise). I have discussed this is many talks I have given over the last 3-4 years and in panels I have been part of, for example at BayCHI. The scary thing about John Rhodes commentary is not his commentary. It is the fact that it still generates controversy.
And btw: this discussion has nothing to do with a discusion of the social responsibility of corporations. The point is not that profits rule per se, and that we should accept all means to that end.