Whats in a name, my fellow Usability Experience Specialists?

15 Jan 2009 - 2:35pm
5 years ago
7 replies
865 reads
Vishal Subraman...
2005

http://www.usnews.com/articles/business/best-careers/2008/12/11/best-careers-2009-usability-experience-specialist.html

Needless to say I'm hesitant to bring this up, but 'Usability Experience
Specialist' made me cringe, not to mention they start out by saying that
'This profession has a hard time agreeing on a name for itself. It's called,
for example, user experience specialist, interface designer, information
architect, usability practitioner, user-centered design specialist, and
usability manager.'

This is not a good branding strategy and is an impediment in the career
paths of current professionals. I'm not saying that we need to form an
umbrella organization or something (it hasn't worked in the past either),
but I think that we need to present a united front to the external world to
communicate a clear vision of our value proposition.

Besides, while we care about the differences between Usability, User
Interface, User Experience, Interaction Design, Information Architecture
etc- my business lead doesn't (and shouldn't). I fear that the big picture
is lost in a battle for semantics and that's a significant factor in why a
lot of people are still confused about what we do.

P.S: My personal preference is ' User Experience Design', its broad enough
to cover all the various sub groups & is already somewhat of an understood
term.

On Wed, Jan 14, 2009 at 7:09 AM, Chauncey Wilson <chauncey.wilson at gmail.com>
wrote:

> Here is another prediction:
>
> Growing frustration about the continuing splitting of communities (IA,
> UX, information design, HF, UI design, usability, CHI, IxDA,) results
> in the merging or re-integration of communities.
>
> Chauncey

--
-Vishal
http://www.vishaliyer.com

Comments

16 Jan 2009 - 6:18am
AJ Kock
2007

I think a similar challenge lies with Psychology as a field; you get
various types of psychologist (psycho-analysts, behavioral, cognitive,
social, etc.). If you want to "cure" a bad habit, you would probably
be better off with a behavioral psychologist instead of a psycho-
analyst, although both would probably claim that they can "cure" you.

User Experience Design also have various starting points (art design,
information design, psychology, etc.) and so yes "' User Experience
Design', its broad enough to cover all the various sub groups & is
already somewhat of an understood
term", but it doesn't indicate which starting point your User
Experience Designer has and not many UXD are qualified or
knowledgeable in all the above mentioned fields.

Should they be knowledgeable in all the above mentioned fields? Well
that is debatable. Should all psychologist be experts in all fields of
psychology?

In my opinion, until education for the UXD field is standardised, you
are better off knowing the starting point of your UX Designer, so that
you can choose the correct designer for your specific user design
challenge.

For a nice article on the various starting points:
http://www.montparnas.com/articles/what-is-user-experience-design/
Or a quick image: http://www.montparnas.com/articles/wp-content/uploads/2006/10/user%20experience%20design%20explained.gif

16 Jan 2009 - 11:44pm
Edo A. Elan
2004

Can't numbers settle the question for us? :) Here's a Google Trends
graph of the relative strength of several of the above expressions,
in news and searches usage, during e recent 4 years.
http://www.google.com/trends?q=usability, user experience,interaction
design,information architect&ctab=0&geo=all&date=all&sort=0

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=37257

18 Jan 2009 - 12:49pm
Noah Mittman
2005

Not really. Looking at Google doesn't show us how they are related by
job definition. Some places have two or more of these roles at the
same time.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=37257

20 Jan 2009 - 8:47am
jonkarpoff
2009

Times are indeed changing, and in many practices the IA is now
responsible for much more than taxonomies and functional wireframes.
We see more cross discipline design work.

There is also a growing trend towards using some form of Agile for
development. The IA becomes responsible for representing the
end-to-end experience as both the voice of the user and the owner.

In this less documented more Socratic method of application
development with the addition of the expanding experiential palette,
the term IA doesn't begin to cover the actual role.

We also have seen a shift in the UCD community towards a recognition
of the importance of emotional engagement and aesthetics in the
design of web experiences.

I think User Experience Designer is a term that encompasses the
expanding role of IAs, the broadening view of UCD and moves us back
towards Wurman's vision that IA is a creative design discipline that
makes complex information and rich systems easy to understand and use.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=37257

20 Jan 2009 - 2:37pm
Edo A. Elan
2004

I find this thread extremely interesting, and wonder if the question
could be re-framed as "which organization tends to use which
title".

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=37257

20 Jan 2009 - 3:42pm
Vishal Subraman...
2005

Its great that the UX community has different organizations (IA Institute,
CHI, IxDA, even AIGA etc) and a range of titles, but just like there are
differences between each of these disciplines, there are also sufficient
commonalities. While we may care about these differences, there is much we
can gain in marketing the shared umbrella. There is much confusion amongst
our cross functional peers/ management about what are do. Why do I still at
times have to explain how we are different from visual designers ?

I find this thread extremely interesting, and wonder if the question
> could be re-framed as "which organization tends to use which
> title".

--
-Vishal
http://www.vishaliyer.com

20 Jan 2009 - 4:57pm
Alex ONeal
2008

Jon wrote: "in many practices the IA is now responsible for much more than
taxonomies and functional wireframes. We see more cross discipline design
work."

Interestingly, when I was initially an IA it was more cross-functional, at
least in the web world, and then became more specialized into front end
work. Where I practiced it over a decade ago, IA encompassed the data
architecture and database support from the back end, through the structure
and information flow, into wire frames, etc. Taxonomy went throughout this,
first through research, then through front end requirements and back end
buckets to meet those.

Personally, my experience has been that the UX title heralds a return to the
generalist. There were webmasters who did it all, and then things began to
become more specialized. But the integrating role of the big picture person
was lost. Like a jack of all trades, master of some, the XA or UX
specialist pulls together multiple fields of expertise (mine are cognitive
psychology, information science, seo, usability, and graphic design). They
design information from the inside out, so the data is most usable,
findable, attractive, and valuable to the user. The goal is to see the
forest for the trees.

I don't blog often about my work, but I blogged about this, in case anyone's
interested: http://alexfiles.com/blog/?p=100

bests,
Alex O'Neal

--
The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The next best time is
now.

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