The World Wide Web is constantly evolving; there are developers inventing novel solutions to some of the internet's most daunting problems.
Rob Laucius, Senior Developer at Siren Interactive, contributes this post:
The healthcare industry isn’t widely considered to be perched atop the bleeding edge of technological advances. Many doctors’ offices still employ wall-sized shelves of paper-based patient data. Major pharmaceutical corporations are not making many friends on Facebook. Despite obstacles like these, my position at Siren Interactive allows me to infiltrate this technologically-impaired world and plant seeds of advancement. One new technology that has caught my attention is called Cufón, and it’s a brand new solution to a problem that has plagued the World Wide Web since its inception.
Instead of learn and launch the new mantra should be launch and learn.
Jakob Nielsen recently came out with some interesting data on usability:
Six years ago, we conducted a survey of design projects and found that, after redesigning for usability, the average improvement in key performance indicators (KPI) was 135%. We’ve recently completed a new survey, and this time the average improvement was 83%. The return on investment (ROI) for usability is now smaller, since the cost has remained approximately constant, as the benefits have decreased.
The ROI for usability has decreased for the first time. What does this mean? There are several theories that immediately come to mind. Maybe we are reaching a plateau for usability. People are much more familiar with the internet and standards have been established. Even mediocre designers are now starting to follow basic design standards and the bar has generally risen.
It’s more likely, however, that the rise in search engine sophistication has had a bigger impact. If a site is set up well for search many people won’t all be coming through your homepage. They will be going directly to the page with the information they are searching for. This is especially true for pharma where we are not selling to users directly, instead the ultimate goal should be to support the brand and communicate with the provider, patient and caregiver communities.
Of course usability is still critically important but now it should be viewed in a much bigger context. Websites don’t sit in isolation, so it is less meaningful to set up a focus group and test usability before launch. Instead of learn and launch the new mantra should be launch and learn. Understand your user, set up your KPIs, design using best practices, launch, pay attention to your analytics, continually modify your site. The context is changing every day and that affects true meta usability.