Last week I attended the annual Usability Professionals’ Association (UPA) conference in Baltimore, Maryland. I’ve attended a few conferences over the last few years and have noticed a few trends coming through.
Firstly, usability is in hot demand. There is no doubt about it, this field is booming. Usability makes more sense than ever, thanks to the:
• Success of consumer products and services like the iPod and Netflix
• Growth of self-service (and its ability to decrease the cost to serve each customer)
• Improved ability to track the benefits of usability thanks to more pervasive, robust measurement systems
However, we still need to do a better job of selling ourselves. We need to be known for more than just usability – we must get involved right at the beginning of the design lifecycle. Understanding users is vitally important in product development and customer experience strategy, and we need to get better at understanding how organisations work, and the flow-on effects of what we do.
As a result of usability being a hot button, skilled usability practitioners are in high demand. In a June 4 report entitled User Experience Salaries Are on the Rise, Kerry Bodine from Forrester says “While demand for UX work is up, capacity is not. Universities continue to pump out new crops of practitioners from their design and human-computer interaction programs, but this influx still can’t keep up with the US’s surging appetite for UX work. This imbalance will continue to create enormous headaches for hiring managers: For the past several years, every agency exec we’ve talked to has reported that hiring and retention is a top priority.” Read more »