Usability Fanatacism

ID-100177052Too much of a good thing will inevitably corrupt it.  Usability is important but can be taken to an unsustainable extreme.

We ran into an issue recently where an email tested fine across browsers and platforms.  One of the test users printed it and found that there was some odd spacing at the bottom.  So we had other testers print the email with the same settings and the issue could not be duplicated.  The best guess for the error was that there was a printer driver on that computer causing the spacing error.  Our recommendation was to move on because the the email was easily readable despite the spacing issue, it was unlikely that many people would print the email at all, and even if the email was printed only this one particular computer was causing the problem hinting as a platform setting.

However, the communication manager wanted to be certain that everything was “perfect” so she spearheaded a few rounds of revisions to the email layout.  After a week of trial and error the email printed properly on that machine.

While the problem was solved the email was sent a week late.  This particular email was promoting an event which ended up not being well attended.  Did the week delay cause this?  That’s unlikely but an added week of time to see how the promotions were doing and make adjustments to the rest of the campaign might have made a difference.

The point is that it was not a good use of resources to fix such a minor usability problem. The fanatical quest for perfection facilitated a lackluster result.  Seek for superior usability but don’t seek out every possible scenario to test.  The fact is that it’s not humanly possible to test every possible scenario and create something that never encounters a glitch.  Make sure to cover major usability issues like intuitive layout, browser or platform compatibility, and presentation of information.  As long as glitchs are minor or extremely isolated it’s likely not in your best interest to nitpick or tern over every rock seeking a problem.


Image courtesy of pakorn /

Focus Email and Social Media Marketing Schedules on Peak Activity Times

We are often asked, “When is the best time to send an email or post to social?” The problem with this question is that it’s not static. The answer will vary based on audience and offer. Rather than looking for a set day/time monitor activity and look at the calendar to figure out Ideal times.

As an example, Friday, especially in the afternoon, converts poorly for most trainers, consultants, and professional coaches. But this might be an ideal time for a neighborhood bar or restaurant to send a notice about a happy hour special to prompt people to stop in after work. The time was the same but with different applications.

It’s also important to review the calendar. On July 3 last week we received a request to send an email invitation to an event in late July. By the time the invite was prepared it would have been late afternoon for a send. Given the July 4th holiday, that Thursday functioned like a Friday. Another disadvantage is that the business audience for the invite was likely to have a lot of people out of the office. While other Thursday afternoons might have converted fine, this particular day was ill-suited. So the invite was pushed to the following week.

The same rule applies to your social media posts. It’s best to post when your audience is actively using the social sites. Check your activity levels to ensure you aren’t posting when few of your target audience will see your content.

Experiment with your sends and monitor the date and times that convert best. It’s important to be aware of your send schedule and not become too rigid and robotic. While your send schedule should be consistent so that your audience gets continual exposure, it needs to be fluid to account for monthly variations and peak activity levels.