Results from Recent Usability Research and Studies
By RichMiller-Oracle on Oct 21, 2009
Customers have asked about how we deal with customer feedback. Customers who have participated in feedback sessions are especially interested in understanding how their feedback was incorporated into My Oracle Support. This series should answer that question for you. Thanks Charles for bugging me to put this out!
The My Oracle Support design team reaches out to customers in a variety of ways. This includes one on one interviews, group meetings, user group sessions, reading feedback via the site, watching Oracle and other blogs or forums, and doing larger scale surveys. Via these processes we generate feature requests, bugs, or enhancements, which in turn are given to a designer to design. The most feedback comes from places like the Feedback form, but typically these are "bugs" (items which need to be fixed but do not require design consideration). The focus on this series is on design. What features do customers want? How do they want the features to work? Who will use the features and how often? And will the feature make sense for a new user and be efficient for an experienced user?
Design is the process of understanding customer needs and providing a user experience which achieves customer needs and goals while focused on "ease of use". Design is not development. If one writes code to solve a problem it may or may not be "easy to use". Design generally puts more complexity into the code and the development process so that the user doesn't have to deal with the complexity. We are focused on understanding customer needs (we answer to the customer not to development) and how customer interacts with Oracle Support. So one can imagine that the time and energy to design something well takes more time up front, but would require less effort by development in the long run to "get it right" and provide the customer with what they need and want. Of course, we don't always get it right, so we iterate and refine until we do.
A series of user research studies using one-on-one web conference sessions were conducted covering dozens of My Oracle Support customers. These sessions covered basic customer needs (how do you do your business), review of designs to cover those needs (typically screen shots), and up through the use of a demo by the customer, while myself and other watched and asked questions. All of these were done prior to the release of features. Up to this point, we have not yet conducted any in field testing of shipping products, other than the Service Request process, but more on that hairy issue, later!
The results of these tests are written up into design briefs which are used to guide the design and development of the product. Part One will cover the details of how we gather this feedback. Part Two will go into the details of the feedback received. We recognize there are a variety of key issues which still remain in My Oracle Support. This will also be discussed in Part Three. And hopefully all of this will serve as a mechanism to get your input into the design process. I for one, listen to customer feedback and work very hard to make the feedback results appear in the product via improved usability and the introduction of important features.