Conference Paper

Building the usability professionals certification scheme: where next?

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Abstract

Discusses the obstacles that prevent digital media designers from adopting usability methods and tensions between the usability and design communities, Explores how to enhance communication between the two groups.

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... Throughout 2002 there was a range of usability accreditation initiatives from both BCS and the Usability Professionals Association [15,16,17], based on SFIA. Notable in [17] is the desire to get beyond Practice (level 3 of SFIA) and into Professionalism (level 4 and above). ...
... Throughout 2002 there was a range of usability accreditation initiatives from both BCS and the Usability Professionals Association [15, 16, 17], based on SFIA. Notable in [17] is the desire to get beyond Practice (level 3 of SFIA) and into Professionalism (level 4 and above). ...
Article
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This paper summarises the increasing formalization of HCI-related job-roles in competency frameworks (such as the UK's Skills Framework for the Information Age – SFIA), and the adoption of these by industry. At present these are mainly in mature areas of HCI such as usability. This trend addresses a common complaint (and one voiced at a workshop at HCI2007) amongst usability professionals that usability does not offer adequate career progression opportunities. Factors that might account for the laggardly response by the usability industry are discussed. The author's recent experience as a reviewer of the updated version of SFIAplus v4 is reported here, with examples from this and previous versions to illustrate the process by which the HCI community can influence these role definitions. The conclusion is that, to give opportunities to our learners, to achieve the changes our community wishes to see put into practice, and to make our own work relevant, we all need to play our part in this "game".
... Improving the development process is a later step. It has been argued that certification of the profession would increase its status and the attention that usability and usability professionals receive in the software industry (Bevan, 2003; Bevan, Earthy and Jarrett, 2002) and the matter is still debated, for instance, on the UPA site (www.upassoc.org). Given that the usability field has been criticised for not taking a sufficiently serious approach, bordering on quackery (Karat, 1996) we believe that a certification of the profession may be worthwhile. ...
Article
The usability concept has now received such a wide recognition in information technology (IT) development that working with usability can be regarded as a profession in its own right. In recent research projects, we have surveyed and studied usability work on an individual level in a number of Swedish development organisations, including success factors and obstacles. What we have seen relates to the individual usability professional and her background and experiences, the organisation in which she operates, the development process, communication and communication means, and finally the attitudes and basic values held by the people involved. In this paper, we compile and reflect on selected findings from different studies on usability work in practical systems1 development in a number of Swedish organisations. We discuss our findings from a practical point of view and relate them to the research of others within the international HCI community. Finally, we discuss some issues we consider important for the future development of the practice of usability that we believe is of interest to the international community of usability professionals.
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The British HCI Group and UPA have both investigated professional accreditation schemes. The UPA is working towards producing a Body of Knowledge that could support certification. The BHCIG is seeking to incorporate human centred design skills into the existing UK IT skills frameworks. 1. BACKGROUND Over the last few years there has been a large increase in demand for usability skills, but it has been difficult to know who has the expertise and experience to provide a professional service. Both the British HCI Group and UPA have investigated possible professional accreditation schemes. The British HCI Group proposal for a lightweight scheme is described at www.bcs-hci.org.uk. The UPA co-sponsored a workshop in November 2001, where it was agreed to draft a usability certification scheme. UK participants subsequently defined proposed core competencies derived from ISO 13407 Human Centred Design Processes for Interactive Systems. In 2002 the UPA organised a survey which showed that while 77% of people new to the field would seek certification, only 39% of the most experienced would do so (see www. upcertification.org). Experienced professionals were also the most voluble in their criticism of certification in responses to the survey, and in email discussion groups. The UPA concluded that it had neither the financial nor people resources to go it alone with a controversial certification programme. Moving certification forward again will require: support from members of a (non-profit) consortium gaining consensus on the basic usability competencies defining a category of certification for new practitioners In the UK there is interest in producing a career development framework for usability practitioners compatible with the BCS industry structure model that provides "A matrix of over 300 roles, each with clearly stated tasks, experience and development targets, categorised by ten levels of responsibility and competence." www1.bcs.org.uk/DocsRepository/01300/1366/structure.HTM. A paper by Nigel Bevan (1) that summarises the UPA workshop and subsequent discussions is attached for conference attendees by kind permission of the author.
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