Monday, June 23, 2008

The State of the UX Community

A community and professional organization discussion ...

"Over the past three decades of computer/human interaction, we’ve seen digital technology evolve from a curiosity to a convenience to an integral part of our everyday lives. For UX professionals, the demand for our skill sets and the opportunities to practice seem only to grow, whether we be designers or developers, usability specialists or information architects, working in fields as diverse as Web, mobile, desktop, and embedded software systems. The UX professions are at a stage that could very well be a tipping point—where the rapid rise of digital devices, services, and connectivity converge to create a massive need for UX professionals. The mobile space alone could generate demand that we can only begin to imagine.

As the need for UX professionals grows and our fields evolve, so too does the nature of our professional community. With an increased demand for our services comes a pressing need to advocate for our profession’s business value and secure a strategic role for UX, train and mentor new practitioners, exchange knowledge among peers, and find ways to positively affect our society.

The Alphabet Soup: Too Many UX Groups?

UX practitioners have numerous options for getting involved in our professional community. For those who define the interactions, behaviors, and workflows of digital products, there’s the Interaction Design Association (IxDA). The Information Architecture Institute (IAI) serves those who structure digital information spaces such as Web sites and intranets. For those involved in usability, user research, and analysis, there are the Usability Professionals’ Association (UPA) and the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES). The visual design community has AIGA, which was formerly known as the American Institute of Graphic Arts, but now touts itself as the Professional Association for Design. AIGA was a sponsoring organization of the Design for User Experience (DUX) conferences in 2003, 2005, and 2007. One of the oldest and most well-established groups is ACM SIGCHI, the Association of Computing Machinery Special Interest Group on Computer Human Interaction. While ACM has been around since 1947, the CHI Special Interest Group was created in 1982. And, recognizing the need to facilitate conversations and collaboration between all of these professional groups and associations, both nationally and internationally, UXnet launched in 2004. This is just a sampling of some of the best-known organizations. There are others.

Local groups exist as well. For example, in the Boston area where I live, there are bi-monthly meetings of the Web Innovators Group, where startups demo their new technology for peers and interested venture capitalists. There are also general-interest tech organizations like the Massachusetts Innovation and Technology Exchange (MITX), and the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council. If you are interested in connecting with your peers and learning in an informal setting, a local BarCamp or Meetup may be for you."    (Continued via UXmatters)    [Usability Resources]

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