I recently encountered http://www.usabilitymustdie.com/ which is a site that satires some of the feedback that might come from dilbert-esque usability specialists. While most of it is over-the-top and can not be taken too seriously, it is a good thing that there is someone who who will call into question the value of, sometimes expensive, usability reviews by outside consultants. And the site is also a good laugh too.
While I was reading it, it set me to thinking about the real value of advice given by outside reviewers. One thing that occurred to me is that specific improvements to a single design are often of little value, especially if, as the design matures, that specific piece of the design vanishes. It is of far more value to teach the client how to recognize problems for themselves. If you can teach the reason for a specific improvement then the client can do many similar improvements for themselves. Looking at it from the other side, if you are the client, and improvements have been suggested, you should always ask ‘Why?’, if the consultant has not already provided the reason. Getting at the motivation for the change which will allow you to learn more.
Ironically teaching clients how to do usability for themselves could be doing yourself out of a job, but, hey, if you are adding real value then there should be no problem finding more clients.