Digital Web Magazine just published An interview with Peter Merholz and Nathan Shedroff on User-Centered Design.

The questions themselves are pretty run-of the-mill, but Peter does a great job of addressing the business impact of UCD and I really liked Nathan's response to a question about selling usability:

However, the problem usually lies in the fact that the effects of these changes almost always lie in other divisions of a company (such as marketing or customer service and, therefore, aren’t a real concern to the division purchasing the development work (since it doesn’t impact their bottom line).

Bear with me as I make the jump from UCD to Experience Design:

This illustrates one of the reasons why a user experience group must be its own organization, rather than a piece of some parent group. If, say, the ED group is part of a larger Development group, what incentive does that Development group have to pay for having its employees study and fix problems with the order-processing system or how feedback flows from the Support phone lines to the Marketing folks, for example?

I’ve been thinking about these organizational issues a lot lately. Is anyone out there (besides Lou) thinking about where the experience design team belongs in a company? Maybe you’ve been thinking about this? Let’s talk.

Merholz / Shedroff on User-Centered Design