Convincing Clients to Pay for Usability

The May 19 Alertbox is about how to do user-centered design in the client-agency model.

I have run into 2 basic types of clients -

For some, UCD is a new concept, and they do need some convincing that it is worthwhile. I recall one client meeting (intranet project) where the client was fascinated with our idea that we would talk to their employees about their information needs in general and not even talk about the technology. It woke me up - I had forgotten how new UCD is to some people.

For these cases, sometimes you have to do it behind-the-scenes and eat the costs yourself to make sure you do a good job. Do not lie to the client, but you also do not have to get them involved. Sometimes they are keen to learn (so include them), sometimes they just want the end result.

For other clients, UCD is a given, and if you do not do it, then you will not even be considered. In that case, put your user testing front-and-center in the project.

I am seeing much less behind-the-scenes UCD necessary as time goes on, but you still have to do whatever it takes to do a good job.