SIGIA-L Mail Archives: RE: SIGIA-L: Razorfish lawsuit usability
RE: SIGIA-L: Razorfish lawsuit usability
From: Tracey E Haun (Tracey.E.Haun_at_USA.dupont.com)
Date: Wed Jul 19 2000 - 17:09:29 EDT
Here are a couple of links to the news about the suit between IAM and
Inside Film --
The Industry Standard --
Jakob Nielson also has some comments about it on the home page of his site
Internet Communications Manager
Kate Blaisdell <klblaisdell_at_yahoo.com> on 07/19/2000 02:15:11 PM
To: Grant.Larimer_at_luminant.com, Andrew Thompson <athompso_at_lante.com>
cc: owner-sigia-l_at_asis.org, sigia-l_at_asis.org (bcc: Tracey E
Subject: RE: SIGIA-L: Razorfish lawsuit usability
I have been unable to find news of this suit on the Web. Would you mind
providing a URL or link to the article? Thank you!
I agree with all of the views about providing better documentation and
client communication, but I have seen those fail as well, especially with
dot-com start-ups. These are volatile organizations with a lot of money and
big risks. I've seen a lot of blaming and finger-pointing happen after a
CTO of a start-up failed to plan appropriately (and he in turn blames his
technology or media consultant).
The only strategy I can offer is to carefully weigh the risks of working
with such clients and try to mitigate those risks. A technology
provider/consultant also has to know when to walk away or to insist that
proper planning take place. That's the hard part with a client who isn't
listening to you; he's listening to his venture capitalist.
Famous last words from a client to a consultant: "You gave me what I asked
for, but not what I wanted."
BV Solutions Group, Overland Park, KS
I agree with Andrew that the issue here is not what does or doesn't work on
this particular site. I'm certain that we could pick apart any website and
expose a variety of problems as we see them from our own experience and
unique perspectives. The big question is how liable are web development
professionals in respect to the sites they create. I agree that an
architect is not responsible for the performance of the businesses that
occupy the building he designed, however, an architect can be held liable
if his design is found to be faulty. Although I am not a legal expert, I
believe the IAM lawsuit is claiming that Razorfish delivered a faulty and
The problem here is how do you judge if a site is faulty and unusable? By
user feedback? The number of visitors? Professional evaluation? If a
court declares that user testimonials or audience levels provide a measure
for usability then I fear that web development professionals could be found
liable for a sites performance should that site wish to push the issue. If
usability is based on professional evaluation, which is what I expect will
happen in lawsuits of this nature, then who can provide a concrete
testimonial as to whether a site is faulty? In architecture, if a doorway
with a 6 foot clearance should have had a 7 foot clearance then that can be
easily judged. Evaluating a website is far more subjective and easily
influenced by an individuals perspective. Two people can have completely
opposite, albeit accurate opinions about the usability of a site.
I'm curious if anyone is aware of another case which is similar in nature
to this one or is this one setting the precedent?
114 West 26th Street
New York, NY 10001
w: (212) 842-6434
c: (646) 279-3426
f: (212) 842-6559
"Andrew Thompson" <athompso_at_lante.com>
Sent by: owner-sigia-l_at_asis.org
07/18/00 07:06 PM
Subject: RE: SIGIA-L: Razorfish lawsuit usability
I have not spent time on the IAM site because I have no idea of how it
represents the work of Razorfish, the site content and goals, and the needs
its users, so my comments are more about the fundamental issues. As more
dot-coms fail there will more finger pointing about exactly who is
In the past, book designers were never sued because the book didn't sell
architects were never sued because not enough people came to visit a
and ad agencies were never sued because a campaign was deemed unsuccessful.
a poor user experience can adversly affect a site (I know all of you know
but it is only part of the big picture in the success of a business. The
facts that IAM can legally point to are the terms of the contract which IAM
signed anyway thus stating they agree to those terms. Many of the other
point to a lack of oversight on the part of the client. A client must
be responsible for making sure any product they release is up to standards.
comparison, GM does not blindly turn over the design of its cars to someone
while they fret over other issues returning later to find a 5 wheel car.
Similarly, most people when building a new house or remodeling an old one
reviewing the progress daily checking for mistakes. Regardless of how much
trust their user experience firm a client must stay on top of the project
meet periodically with the firm to discuss the progress. This is basic
As IAs I think we have lttle to fear in this particular case, but it does
to the fact that we can all improve our (people- and project-) management
skills, and continue to educate our clients in that arena.
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