Usability Vendor Checklist


The Usability Vendor Checklist – A Handy Vendor Selection Tool

I’ve been asked from time to time how a business should go about finding and selecting a usability vendor. It seems to me there’s a fair amount of confusion in the marketplace about what usability is, and how to choose the best vendor for usability services. So, to help address this need I’ve created a checklist that any business can use to help in evaluating a usability vendor.

You can download your copy of the Usability Vendor Checklist at the Usability Resources page.

Usability Vendor Checklist
Usability Vendor Checklist

I should add here that this can also be a handy tool for usability vendors as well, to ensure their responses to a Request for Information (RFI) or Request for Proposal (RFP) include all the pertinent information about their usability services.

The checklist is in PDF format, so that it can be easily printed and used as a handy tool when going through the process of assessing usability vendors.

The benefits of using a usability vendor checklist

I believe that a useful approach for fairly and accurately evaluating potential usability vendors is to incorporate a checklist of common usability practices and procedures with information about the project in a RFI or RFP that any competent usability vendor can respond to.

By using this checklist as a part of the early information-gathering process, and requiring potential vendors to provide this information as part of a RFI or RFP response, firms will have the information they need with which to compare usability vendors in a fair and impartial manner.

In addition to this checklist, a company can request a sample report or deliverable. Although it’s not always possible to compare apples to apples reviewing a sample report, the sample report coupled with the checklist can provide a better picture of the capabilities and type of deliverables a usability vendor typically produces.

You can download the Usability Vendor Checklist at the Usability Resources page.

I hope you find this tool a helpful addition to your usability vendor selection process.

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  1. It would be helpful if you could provide an image of your checklist on this page, within your post, and link to your checklist directly from this page. Why bury it on a Resource page and make me click around to look for it? Tsk, tsk.

  2. Thanks for the feedback. I had originally intended to place all my “resources” such as the checklist PDF on the “resources” page. But you’re not the first person to notice that it’s not an optimal user experience (OK Dr. Pete – quit laughing!). I will make amends and place an image with link to the PDF in the blog post. Usability wins over my need to organize files.

  3. Hello Kyle,

    While I respect your experiences with unsolicited RFPs, my checklist in no way discusses this issue. The point of the checklist is that a Company must have a sound and impartial way to judge usability vendors. Assuming your RFP was in fact solicited, do you believe this checklist is a fair way to be judged? That’s actually the question.

    PS – Having been on both sides of the unsolicited RFP process (at the company that sends them, and as a freelance vendor who receives them) all I can say is there’s only 1 sure way to NOT get business, and that’s by not responding to a potential customer who uses RFPs! Whether you believe in the process or not, many large corporations will not hire a vendor without an RFP process. Daniel Szuc’s comment on your UXMatters posting was excellent and I’m in firm agreement with him.

  4. Craig,

    My comment was not directed towards the checklist itself, but the comment you made about using the checklist with an RFP process. I believe that your checklist can be used effectively to help evaluate a usability vendor, whether or not an RFP process is used.

    Usability vendors are getting inundated with RFPs that are spammed to dozens of other vendors before any kind of effort is made to qualify them. For this reason, there is a growing trend of not responding to such RFPs, since the likelihood of actually getting the work is minimal and you have better odds at getting business from real qualified leads.

    Again, I’d argue that responding to an unsolicited RFP is a sure way to NOT get business and waste your time. If a relationship doesn’t exist between a prospective client and a vendor before an RFP, there won’t be one afterward.

    My suggestion for companies seeking usability vendors is to pick up the phone and make contact prior to sending them an RFP. They need to qualify a few vendors over the phone (using your checklist would be a good start) and then consider whether or not an RFP is even necessary to send to them. This is a much better way to start a business relationship while ensuring the best vendor and solution is chosen.

  5. I certainly understand your point in terms of the time and energy it takes to respond to an RFI or an RFP, and thus your judgment of whether the time spent in writing the response is worth it, or not.

    However, having sent out dozens of RFIs and RFPs while at Countrywide, Prudential, WellPoint and other large firms, I can tell you that calling vendors was pretty much out of the question for a selection process. The reason why is because in all of those cases there was a selection committee that was required to review the vendors and make selections. Sending out RFPs to up to 10 vendors meant it was impractical to do phone inquiries.

    I agree with you that talking on the phone first is a great way to start the process, but eventually a committee needs the facts on paper with which to evaluate usability vendors.

    I doubt large firms will move away from an RFP process anytime soon, but hopefully a better way will be discovered to do these kinds of evaluations which cause vendors less hassle in responding.

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