The Communication Studio

Art or Science

UxP already embraces a broad umbrella of activity: graphics, navigation & structure, behavior, online help and personalization. Within all that,

JV portrait: Two

There are two major approaches to the usability role

The Researcher

is an Academic person

with Analytical approach

who Evaluates

in a Laboratory environment

making Tests & Reports

is good at Identifying Issues

through Rigor & Methodology

The Usability Researcher is more likely to identify customer needs, data and behavior that have somehow been missed.

The Designer

is a Creative person

with Proactive approach

who Innovates

in a Studio environment

making Prototypes & Models

is good at Proposing Solutions

through Skill & Talent

The Interaction Designer delivers immediate solutions that can be easily grasped and provide satisfaction.

With appropriate backgound information the Interaction Designer can look at a site and come up with a fair number of viable design improvements quickly. Often that's all the client wants.

But there are also strong arguments for Usability Analysis. We now expect our sites to handle a more intimate relationship with the customer. We have the tools to harvest the customer behavior, organize the business information and deliver personalization.

The Usability Researcher should be able to identify things you've missed.

But you'll probably still need an Interaction Designer to come up with creative solutions.

Many production environments lump the two schools of effort together, even though they are actually very different. You rarely see this sort of rigorous separation of responsibilities. The "usability expert" is often expected to wear both hats, providing neutral analysis and creative advocacy. Sometimes that can get a little confusing.