I wrote a screed. Here’s the interesting part

This article is worth a read as-is. But once you’ve done that, consider that our users are also suffering a form of the paper cut tax since they need to (and due to the tax are told to) see their CSMs about every little thing they want to change on the platform. Poor usability is a brake on their productivity and, in turn, a brake on their esteem for our company.

The story I am told regularly is that usability in existing interfaces hasn’t been addressed because it is hard to relate to ROI. That’s true. That also does not make it less important. As we do with other types of issues, I think we should devote a percentage of our collective effort to chipping away at the large experience debt we have in the platform.

A small but potentially high-signal example: yesterday a few UXers including me attended “Mastering the Basics,” a webinar meant to introduce new customers to a handful of typical operations on the platform. It was lengthy and dense, intelligibility issues were apparent (nay, obvious) at every turn, and two common refrains punctuated the talk: “see your CSM for help with this” and “remember, ‘campaign’ has nothing to do with your actual marketing campaign but refers to call treatment” (paraphrased). The latter was mentioned seven times in a short period; clearly it is a response to a problem.

I see “see your CSM for help with this” as an admission; “we know there’s a problem.” This is a sensible thing to say in our current state, and a bad look. “I’m sorry it is broken” is said. “We’re working on it” is not. “Remember, ‘campaigns’ has nothing to do with your actual marketing campaign but refers to call treatment” is also an unwitting admission: “this system wasn’t made for you and it is your problem to remember the odd words it uses.”

What would it take to, say, change “campaigns” to “call treatments?” Would the customers that actually use the term “campaigns” in this way be put out by such a change? Have we asked? Just a thought.

Incoming employees recognize the problem. When I sought feedback for M— recently, D— mentioned “…for the UX team a great emphasis can be made on owning the UX of the platform not just for the new initiatives but for the existing features.” We’d love to, and to do so we need your help and participation.