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5usability expert credentials - was: Re: Thanks for showing up!

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  • Ron Vutpakdi
    Jul 13, 2004
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      --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "Jeff Patton" <jpatton@a...>
      > --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, Phlip <phlipcpp@y...> wrote:
      > > What kind of credentials do usability experts need?
      > As always, the answer is "it depends."
      > I lump usability people into three groups:
      > 1. up-front people: those who work at pre-development/pre-product
      > stage to determine what software is appropriate to build
      > 2. design people: knowing what the software should do, how exactly
      > does it do it? Both appearance and user interaction
      > 3. design validation or test people: given a piece of software
      > functionality, exactly how usable is it? What adjustments could be
      > made to make it more usable?

      Well, it sort of depends how you're lumping together. Within
      Landmark, when most people say "usability" they tend to lump together
      the 2 human factors folks (who have a degree in human factors), the
      interaction designer (me), the domain experts (about 12), and the
      documentation folks as usability due to the way the group was
      originally formed (even though the group has now been disbanded and

      Jeff's general lumping of up front folks, designers, and design
      validation/testing is the most common lumping that I've seen in terms
      of skill sets, interests, and activities. I most often see the first
      and last group lumped together also.

      I'd expand on the up-front description a bit to include to include
      conducting ethnographic research which goes into the determining what
      to build.

      And, as Jeff pointed out, everyone has a slightly different focus. I
      prefer to fall on the design and upfront parts, but I also do the
      design validation and testing side too.

      > > I always just relied on the "doesn't suck" principle
      > > myself...

      Perceptions of what "doesn't suck" does vary dramatically though. For
      example, I work with a developer whose perception of "doesn't suck"
      means that *he* can use the software well enough to exercise the
      necessary functionality. Luckily, the perception of the dev lead is a
      little different, so I get her to tell him that an interface needs to
      be changed and he needs to listen to me.

      > I think others on the list could better say what proficiencies a
      > usability person should have.

      I think that an important proficiency is the ability to be flexible
      and adapt to the current situation. Doesn't mean cave in and just
      rubber stamp things, but understanding how to adapt, when to push, and
      when not to push.

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