Knocking Out The Morvilles

Peter Morville has put together a list of twenty user experience deliverables with links to relevant resources and examples.

This is certainly interesting, and Morville is an interesting cove, not least because he’s been on the scene for so long. However, I can’t help reflecting on the fact that he is a consultant. Seen in that light, the “deliverables” culture he presents takes on a rather different hue, and I wonder how many of his admirers fully appreciate that.

To be clear, I am not saying that these deliverables are automatically a waste of a client’s money, nor is there anything wrong, of course, with consulting itself. Those who can, do, those who cannot, hire. I myself was a consultant for many years before I joined Expedia. Nevertheless, the reason I left to work at the coalface of ecommerce was partly due to what I saw as an oppressive obsession with deliverables. Worse, it seemed to me that these “deliverables” far too often took the place of individual conviction and practical experimentation. When attending detailed presentations of some or other “artefact” or “key method” in the formulation of a design, I often found myself muttering “Don’t forget to build the site!”

On a related topic, I see there is a rather revealing first comment to Morville’s User Experience Treasure Map. That first comment (and surprisingly, his reply!) neatly sums up a rather obvious problem with the type of “deliverables” that Peter Morville presents. Creating nice looking artefacts is one thing; being understood is another – to say nothing of whether you actual have a point in the first place.