By John Schrag
I’m just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada this week, at the annual conference of the Usability Professionals Association. While eating breakfast, I looked out the window of the M Resort and saw that the conference name was spelled wrong on the exterior marquee – instead of “UPA”, it said “UXPA”. What did this mean?
Sure enough, right after breakfast the announcement was made official: the UPA is renaming itself to the User Experience Professionals Association (UXPA), and is starting the process of remaking itself to better fit this new name. Word went out immediately through Twitter, and within a few minutes responses were coming back from around the world, ranging from the delighted to the irritated.
Personally, I thought the name change was well past time. Most of the industry has long realized that paying attention to usability is not enough. The direct usability of your product or service is only one of many touchpoints that your clients and customers have with your business. Those of us who design products or services tend to think of the sales department or the web division or the customer support group as being separate from ourselves. But as far as customers are concerned, a business has a single face. You can provide a really easy-to-use product, but if your purchase process is painful, you’re not going to be thought of as a company that’s easy to do business with.
In an Ignite session today about social media, the question was raised: are you where your customers are? If your customers are talking about you on Twitter, are you there listening? Better yet, are you responding? A customer who gets a response to a problem posted on Twitter sees that response as a part of the overall experience of dealing with your business. Your lack of response will be seen the same way. Listening and responding to the vast social media landscape can be a daunting idea, raising all kinds of issues about scalability and setting expectations. But these are exactly the sort of business questions companies need to be thinking about nowadays.
Usability can’t be isolated from the rest of User Experience. We all need to look at the bigger picture. So I, for one, applaud the UPA for staking out a new direction. Now let’s see if they – we – can follow through.