Happy rebirthday UXPA

By Tom Wood @Foolproofer

I was delighted to hear the news from the Usability Professionals’ Association (UPA) that they are changing the name of the organisation to become the User Experience Professionals’ Association (UXPA). The announcement was made at the annual international conference in Las Vegas.

The organisation is 21 years old. So why change?

Foolproof has supported the UPA as members, speakers, organisers and officers for the ten years we’ve been in business. But over that time the UPA’s name was increasingly becoming a liability. Usability is just one of the disciplines that are important within the broader field of user experience. As our own business and service offering expanded it seemed that the UPA was trying to keep itself in the past.

Is Ogilvy a typesetting company? Or is Apple a software company? Or is Paramount a film-scripts company? No. None of these companies would prosper if they weren’t brilliant at those things, but these narrow disciplines don’t define their work and achievements. Similarly, we’re really proud of our usability practice but the world wants – and gets – a much broader range of skills and perspectives from us as a user experience design firm.

The UPA’s name change is wise, if a little overdue. Our industry colleagues Foviance changed their name from The Usability Company back in 2005, a change that we thought was both sensible and well-timed. The further seven year wait for our nearest and dearest trade body to take a similar leap represents a missed opportunity to advance the profession.

In the last few years user experience has moved from a peripheral discipline to one of central importance to consumer industries. Tens of thousands of people have joined the profession from design, development and marketing backgrounds. It won’t have been clear to many of them that the UPA could offer them resources, ideas and support.

But this change is better late than never. Under this new banner we’re sure that the Association will be thriving for at least another 21 years. And we’ll remain proud and committed members.

Tom Wood

I’m one of the two founders of Foolproof. Within projects I usually take a role both in planning our approach and in the generative phases of design. I’m also active in gathering client and customer needs into the design space. My particular talent is helping senior stakeholders see and understand the customer’s world in richer detail, and helping them work out how to respond.

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