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How to build a successful design company

UX Movement has published an eight step guide on how to build a multi-billion dollar design company.

1. Make design everything. Everything!
2. Let design report to Steve Jobs
3. Let a very small elite team design all major products
4. Let designers make the design decisions
5. Make pixel-perfect mock-ups
6. Make designers and engineers work closely together
7. Don't do market research. Trust your own taste.
8. Don't let anything that isn't perfect go out

P.S. If you don't have a Steve Jobs, a Jonathon Ive might do.


  • 8 Things You Didn't Know About Apple's Design Culture Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - November 04, 2010

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See also: Tips and guidelines (95)  The design process (24) 



The eight stages of usability maturity

To truly become a user-centred organization, companies almost always progress through the same sequence of steps, gradually increasing their levels of commitment to usability.

Jakob Nielsen outlines this process in eight stages of maturity:

Stage 1: Hostility Toward Usability
Stage 2: Developer-Centered Usability
Stage 3: Skunkworks Usability
Stage 4: Dedicated Usability Budget
Stage 5: Managed Usability
Stage 6: Systematic Usability Process
Stage 7: Integrated User-Centered Design
Stage 8: User-Driven Corporation

According to Jakob Nielsen, it takes about twenty years to move from stage 2 to 7 and another twenty years to reach the last stage.


  • Corporate Usability Maturity: Stages 1-4 Open link in new window
  • Corporate Usability Maturity: Stages 5-8 Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - May 01, 2006

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Institutionalization of Usability: A Step-by-Step Guide

This book by Eric Schaffer (Founder & CEO of Human Factors International) answers the question: "How do I make usability routine in my business?" ... and provides the case for corporate commitment.

Usability must be institutionalized as a sustained, routine, and necessary part of the business process.

Executives, managers, and practitioners need a mature usability engineering capability with infrastructure, standards, training, and proper staffing.


Pieter-Jan Pruuost - June 10, 2004

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See also: Books (47) 



Winning stakeholder support in user-centred design

User-centred design professionals pay special attention to one type of stakeholders


  • The article Understanding Organizational Stakeholders for Design Success Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - June 07, 2004

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Objections against user-centred design

Introducing a user-centred design approach in an organisation can sometimes be difficult. According to Jesse James Garrett, some of the most common objections are:

- We know our users - they're just like us.
- We know our users - we've done all this market research.
- All we have to do is follow this list of guidelines.
- The interface is trivial compared to the technical work we need to do.
- It takes experts to understand user behavior. We don't have that kind of money.
- It doesn't take experts to understand user behavior. We'll figure it out as we go.
- We'll fix it in QA.
- We can't make room for it in the schedule.

As a result, "Most Web sites are not designed. They are, at best, contrived - roughly patched together using a mix of half-understood guidelines, imitations of approaches taken by other sites, and personal preferences masquerading as "common sense""


  • The article All Those Opposed - Making the case for user experience in a budget-conscious climate Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - July 28, 2003

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Most difficult part of user experience work

What's the most difficult part of UX work? Very simple: changing the organization. More in the column.


  • Read the full column Open link in new window

Mars Hurst - June 20, 2003

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User-centered design of company development frameworks

Introducting a user-centered design process in a company can be a challenge. Whitney Quesenbery recommends applying an iterative and user-centered approach when doing so.


  • The article Being User-Centered When Implementing a UCD Process Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - September 29, 2002

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See also: Tips and guidelines (95) 



Results of promoting Information Architecture survey

Louis Rosenfeld has put out a brief survey to learn a little bit about whom Information Architects are trying to promote IA to, what gets in the way, and what might help Information Architects to do a better job.

Some highlights from the survey:
- Hardest part of promoting IA: 27% don't get a chance until their projects are too deep into the design/development process
- What would help: 82% plead for ROI cases, 72% for case studies of successful projects
- Hardest audience: Our clients' decision-makers


  • Louis Rosenfeld's comments to the results Open link in new window
  • The results in full detail Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - May 14, 2002

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See also: Research (130) 



How Usability-Focused Companies Think

This article tells you what it really takes to design truly good user experiences. It's all about caring for and understanding your users.

Some of the differences between companies that are successful with usability and the ones that are not, are:
- They really put user fist, and relegate technology, implementation, office politics, and everything else to a lower priority
- They keep the users visible by keeping photos of their users posted in the offices
- They try to gather as much information about the users from as many sources as possible
- The require all new hires to go on a site visit within the first two weeks on the job


  • The article: How Usability-Focused Companies Think Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - February 23, 2002

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