RE: [IxDA] ethics, training and HFI

6 Sep 2010 - 12:26am
3 years ago
4 replies
1164 reads
neha
2009

 Carl,

Having worked with HFI and having been an integral team member at some point in my career, I am in complete agreement with Eric. HFI is a place where everyone breathes UX. They strive hard to bring UX to the industry.

I remember Eric mentioning in one of his talk to the staff - 'Whenever I go to any company in India, I meet people who have worked with HFI at some point. I am glad that we have been able to  educate people and spread Usability in the Industry'. 

Thanks to Eric and team for all the hard work.
~ Neha M.

 

-----Original Message-----
From: ixdaor@host.ixda.org [mailto:ixdaor@host.ixda.org] On Behalf Of ericschaffer
Sent: Sunday, September 05, 2010 10:24 AM
To: neham@techved.com
Subject: Re: [IxDA] ethics, training and HFI

 

Hi Carl,

 

Well you certainly have a strong position about HFI. Perhaps

as CEO I can at least share the facts. I invite you to learn a bit more about

us before you condemn us for ethics violations. Because I feel you are being

unfair.

 

We claim to the world’s leading UX design

firm. While people throw around ‘World’s Leading’

pretty freely, I think we have a rather solid claim to that title. We

focus SOLELY on engineering psychology (or usability or UX as you like).

We are not an SI, or graphics or innovation firm that has added on UX. We

date back to 1981 and I have been at the helm since then. We have over

150 staff with physical offices in the USA,

UK, India, Singapore,

and China. We have been very active in seeding UX work worldwide and

pioneering the blended us of offshore resources. In fact we are now happy to

be doing major projects in Africa (where I

travel to tomorrow). Our Indian offices (Mumbai, Bangalore,

and Pondicherry) are celebrating our tenth year

in India.

 

We have been leading the push for mature,

industrial strength UX work. We have been creating customized UI

standards since 1983. I published ‘Institutionalization of

Usability’ in 2004. We created the ‘Certified Usability

Analyst’ program; not as a training gimmick, but as a service to the

industry. You do NOT need to take ANY HFI training to get your CUA and

LOTS of people pass the very hard exam without HFI training (only about 70%

pass overall). Our roughly 3,000 CUA’s probably does represent

about 10% of  the world’s census in UX Professionals (30k is my best

guess anyway).

 

This year we came out with the world’s

first ENTERPRISE

software environment for UX work that leverages integration of persona 

builder,

project management, standards, etc. This environment (or future competing

environments) is essential to any group wanting to do industrial strength UX.

 

We are also pushing the borders of the field in the areas of

persuasive design, innovation, and strategy. Certainly Don’s great

emotional design book really spawned the area (though I published on the 

topic

in 1981). But HFI has been disseminating systematic processes for emotional

design, persuasive design, user centered innovation, and strategy.

 

This year we have also FINALLY cracked the

challenge of how to certify a design as usable and we have provided that

program. No one else has been able to do this.  And I have been

trying for thirty years. Just as the field urgently needed accessible

individual certification, the field now needs certification of organizational

maturity, and finally the certification of designs. This is a HUGE

breakthrough which will strengthen our field and move it forward.

 

So Carl, I would like to invite you to study us

more. And perhaps consider if we are the evil and sleazy company you seem

to imagine. We have worked hard all these years to be known as

scientific, systematic, pragmatic, innovative, and strategic. We are in

fact generally seen that way. I don’t think ‘unethical’

has ever been a part of our ethos.

 

Best regards,

 

Eric

 

(((Please leave all content below this line)))

________________________________________________________________

Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA) Discussion!

Manage Subscriptions or Unsubscribe .......... 

http://www.ixda.org/user/31920/notifications

Discussion Guidelines .......... http://www.ixda.org/help

 

--

 

View original post: 

http://www.ixda.org/mailcomment/redirect/%3C31920.26769.79211.1283527237.1b72ec03a9fb0ba14c65574065db01f2%40ixda.org%3E

 

Comments

9 Sep 2010 - 8:06am
bkillam
2010

Carl's concerns do not appear to be questioning HFI as a firm dedicated to user-centered design or questioning the qualifications of the individuals who work there, but a concern about some of the company practices.  And I  agree with Carl on one of his points.  
HFI's claim to be "the world's leading user-centered design firm" is a very clever one because It is non falsifiable.  Had the claim been that HFI is the biggest or oldest firm then that claim could be challenged, but there is no objective criteria for "world's leading" so I think any ethics department or debate club would have a hard time deciding if it crosses a line.   However, I do not think the same is true for the CUA program.
There are nationally and internationally agreed upon criteria for professional certification.  HFI does not meet the criteria as a professional certifying body and the "certification" they offer does not meet the requirements for professional certification.  To their credit, HFI does not claim it to be professional certification. They state they are a training firm and they sometimes refer it it as "HFI-certification".  But it is cleverly titled "certified usability analyst" and many people falsely believe this is professional certification.  I find it hard to believe this was not intentional.  What I  find questionable is that I do not know of HFI ever attempting to clarify between their company developed certification program and true professional certification.  They seem to accept and even encourage this misconception.  But, again, it a tough call. Their complicity in this case is by taking no action.       
I also notice with interest that many of the HFI staff, included Eric himself, have also obtained their professional certification.  
Bill---------------------------------------------------Bill Killam, MA CHFP/CUXPPresident, User-Centered Design, Inc.20548 Deerwatch PlaceAshburn, VA 20147703-729-0998 (Office)703-626-6318 (Mobile)http://www.user-centereddesign.com




 

10 Sep 2010 - 5:05pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

I think the most unprofessional thing about this thread is that we're still discussing it.
People who work in glass agencies shouldn't be tossing stones.
There's nothing here. Move along.
That's my opinion.
Jared

On Sep 9, 2010, at 10:21 AM, bkillam wrote:

9 Sep 2010 - 10:14pm
ericschaffer
2010

 

Hey Bill, I’m not sure why you would attack us as being ‘clever’ and ‘encouraging misconceptions’. We have not become the leading (and I actually think the biggest) firm specializing in usability by cheating (hey, someone point to a usability-only company doing over 1 mil a month and with over 150 staff and we can discus if ethnographer’s heads are counted! J ). In fact the success is 10% brilliance and the rest grim determination. Our tag line is ‘User Experience for a Better World’ and one of our three core values is that ‘Karma Works’. We don’t win by tricking or cheating. We are increasingly not doing just UX projects, but helping set up and support industrial strength practices in UX. So we are really the practitioner’s practitioners. We are GOOD for this field. But on to certification! (one of my personal passions)

In my mind certification is essential to help non-expert managers ensure that they are hiring people with at least a baseline of expertise. I totally support and regularly recommend the BCPE program. It does that well, but is inaccessible to many good people. It might be a bit heavy on academics and less specific to software usability. So for 3,000 people our CUA works. We can argue over which is harder (about 30% of people fail the CUA exam) and which is more accessible (we test in Mandarin). But actually BOTH certifications are damn useful from my viewpoint. They highlight people with a baseline of competency. I am proud to have both a CPE (number 64!) and CUA. Shortly we will offer a CXA which covers advanced topics of persuasion, innovation, strategy, and institutionalization of usability.

Are we qualified to grant a certification? Well in my world I see that Microsoft certifies people. This is good because you can tell who understands server administration. It is a useful certification. So is ours. There are some interesting questions apparently about what is a ‘professional’ certification. Perhaps more critically what is an ‘engineering’ certification (Did we ever get that sorted?). But we saw the need and filled it. We operate the program responsibly (and not for particularly high profit) because we see it as a service to the industry. Remember, the CUA is NOT a test of our course material. There a many people who pass without taking ANY HFI training.

We are now going further! We are offering a Certified Practice in Usability. A startling number of organizations seem intent on “reaching Level IV by November”. This is motivating organizations to do UX work with greater maturity. Certified organizations can also create Certified Usable Designs. So my thirty year quest to figure out how to certify products, applications, and sites is over! These certifications rely partly on having certified staff (and of course a CPE or CHFP counts). And these certifications will increase the demand for certified staff. I think that is good for the industry.

So Bill. We work with transparency. We have not reached this point by being “Clever”. It has been a hard couple of years for CEOs and I was feeling a bit down. Getting unfairly accused of cheating does not feel very good. But then there was a post that pointed out “These are the good guys”. Shari thanks for that. It kept me going.

Eric

10 Sep 2010 - 10:05am
bkillam
2010

Eric,
I didn't  attack you for being clever.  I'm sorry if you felt that was what I was doing.  And I never said anything about HFI cheating or not being a quality usability, UX, or Human Factors Engineering firm.  My only issue, if you reread my note, is related to HFI's Certification and how it is understood by certificants and others whom you are attempting to help (e.g., managers).   I specifically said that you or your firm does not take any specific action I consider crossing the line, but I questioned if what you are doing was encouraging misconception (intended or not).  And I couple that with the fact that i have never seen any attempt by HFI to clarify the misconception (which is persuasive).   
You'll notice that certification from Microsoft, which you are using a precedence for your certification, is called "Microsoft Certified System Engineer" to distinguish it from professional certification. If your certification was called "HFI Certified Usability Analyst", we wouldn't even be having this conversation.  If fact, if it was, I would have no problem supporting it and even recommending it to some people. 

(Please also note, I did defend your right to [cleverly] advertise yourself as the world's leading firm.)  
With due respect,
Bill---------------------------------------------------Bill Killam, MA CHFP/CUXPPresident, User-Centered Design, Inc.20548 Deerwatch PlaceAshburn, VA 20147703-729-0998 (Office)703-626-6318 (Mobile)http://www.user-centereddesign.com




On Sep 10, 2010, at 12:41 AM, ericschaffer wrote:

 

Hey Bill, I’m not sure why you would
attack us as being ‘clever’ and ‘encouraging
misconceptions’. We have not become the
leading (and I actually think the biggest) firm specializing in usability
by cheating (hey, someone point to a usability-only company doing over 1 mil a
month and with over 150 staff and we can discus if ethnographer’s heads
are counted! J ). In fact the success is 10% brilliance and the rest grim
determination. Our tag line is ‘User Experience for a Better
World’ and one of our three core values is that ‘Karma
Works’. We don’t win by tricking or cheating. We are
increasingly not doing just UX projects, but helping set up and support
industrial strength practices in UX. So we are really the practitioner’s
practitioners. We are GOOD for this field. But on to certification!
(one of my personal passions)

In my mind certification is essential to
help non-expert managers ensure that they are hiring people with at least a
baseline of expertise. I totally support and regularly recommend the BCPE
program. It does that well, but is inaccessible to many good people.
It might be a bit heavy on academics and less specific to software
usability. So for 3,000 people our CUA works. We can argue over
which is harder (about 30% of people fail the CUA exam) and which is more
accessible (we test in Mandarin). But actually BOTH certifications are damn useful from my viewpoint. They highlight people with a baseline
of competency. I am proud to have both a CPE (number 64!) and CUA.
Shortly we will offer a CXA which covers advanced topics of persuasion,
innovation, strategy, and institutionalization of usability.

Are we qualified to grant a
certification? Well in my world I see that Microsoft certifies
people. This is good because you can tell who understands server
administration. It is a useful certification. So is ours.
There are some interesting questions apparently about what is a
‘professional’ certification. Perhaps more critically what is
an ‘engineering’ certification (Did we ever get that sorted?).
But we saw the need and filled it. We operate the program
responsibly (and not for particularly high profit) because we see it as a
service to the industry. Remember, the CUA is NOT a test of our course
material. There a many people who pass without taking ANY HFI training.

We are now going further! We are
offering a Certified Practice in Usability. A startling number of
organizations seem intent on “reaching Level IV by November”.
This is motivating organizations to do UX work with greater maturity.
Certified organizations can also create Certified Usable Designs. So my thirty year quest to figure out how to certify products, applications,
and sites is over! These certifications rely partly on having certified
staff (and of course a CPE or CHFP counts). And these certifications will
increase the demand for certified staff. I think that is good for the
industry.

So Bill. We work with transparency.
We have not reached this point by being “Clever”. It has been a hard couple of years for
CEOs and I was feeling a bit down. Getting unfairly accused of
cheating does not feel very good. But then there was a post that pointed out
“These are the good guys”. Shari
thanks for that. It kept me going.

Eric

(((Please leave all content below this line)
Syndicate content Get the feed