Thursday, November 03, 2005

World Usability Day -- Nov 3, 2005

Tomorrow is World Usability Day. The event is organized by the Usability Professionals Association and sponsored by Human Factors International (HFI). USA Today has come out with an article on the subject of usability for the occasion. I just realized that usability is spelled USAbility. Hmmh.

HFI has a page on careers in usability. About the industry, it says:

While the field of usability has existed for decades, the profession has greatly matured in the last 10-15 years. The long-term prognosis for the industry is also great: there are constant opportunities in almost every industry since new products and technology come out all the time.

If you're pursuing a career in usability, you can expect to find fairly standard job titles such as usability engineer, designer, analyst, or specialist (those wanting to focus specifically on the usability of technology should be cautious about jobs described as "human factors engineering," which often refer only to the ergonomics of workstations and physical design).

Also, the top two criteria for a successful usability career are:
  1. A passion for making technology fit human needs
  2. General computer knowledge and expertise of the domain you wish to pursue (e.g. medical devices, cellular phones, specialized software, etc.). However, it is not necessary to have a background in computer programming.
Usability professionals tend to be outgoing, perceptive, and inquisitive by nature. They have an innate desire to understand how people think and work, always striving to improve technology by making it easier to use.

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