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Part 4: CoronaUsability  


For large websites, we conduct usability testing because the cost of launching a site on which many people will rely, is too high to leave to chance. In a typical website usability test, we will design a set of tasks the typical website user will need to conduct on the site, and we monitor every movement and click they make to ensure their experience is what we intended. We don’t launch the site until testing has been conducted and we’ve made the necessary changes based on the results. Occasionally, the fixes can delay the launch of the website, but it is rare that everyone involved does not support going to market with an unassailable product.

The reopening of our country without reliable testing is like launching a massive website without usability testing; there will be problems, and people will be doing more than dropping off pages. But I appreciate the very real need for people to get back to work and for the economy to recover. Before it can’t.

Inadvertently, our government’s approach to opening up the country can be seen as falling in line with another popular design movement, called “Design Thinking.” Design Thinking, popular in product design, supports the idea that perfection is the enemy of the good. In practice it means rapidly prototyping solutions and getting them into people’s hands as part of an ongoing iterative process. This is the path we are taking, in this case using the public to inform us as to which state’s rollout plans are working and which states aren’t so fortunate. While Design Thinking is a legitimate design process aimed at getting products to market more quickly, I don’t believe our national health was ever intended as the crucible.