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Certification of Usability Professionals


The rapid growth of the field of user-centered design and usability has created a need to identify the skills required for professional work. No current certification focuses on the broad skills needed for user-centered design.

From November 2001 - June 2002, a working group was formed to investigate whether certification was viable at this point in the development of this profession and if so, how it might work. Out of this investigative work, the UPA launched a series of projects to create a "Body of Knowledge" which would address many of the issues raised during the project. This included work on defining the role of a usability professional, a code of conduct, identifying a curriculum, a list of canonical texts and preliminary work identifying the content of a body of knowledge.

References and Resources

Resources gathered during this project

  • References and other certifications
    Articles, standards and other resources on competencies. It also has links to information about other certification or accreditation programs, or articles on the subject.

Related papers and other publications

Joining the Project

This project is completed, but the work begun during this investigation was carried forward into the Usability Body of Knowledge project.  Anyone interested should:


Project Activities

1. Initial meeting in Salt Lake City, November 2001
A working group of volunteers was formed at the invitation of UPA. Participants were drawn from UPA and other interested professionals. The group met in November 2001 in Salt Lake City for a two-day working session hosted by SurgeWorks.

2. Reviewed work done in the UK
Investigations through the UK UPA chapter, including a survey and draft documents

  • Survey conducted by the British Computer Society HCI group
  • Review of the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) assessment module

3. Published articles
An article was written for SIGCHI's Interactions magazine about the work of the initial meeting

  • "CERTIFYING USABILITY (PROFESSIONALS): A Scheme to Qualify Practitioners" by Donald L. Day, Intuit (with the assistance of Nigel Bevan, Serco Usability Services). Interactions, January-February 2002, page 7-9
  • "Building Blocks to a Body of Knowledge" was published in the UPA Voice, describing the outcome of this project.
  • A similar article, also titled "Building Blocks to a Body of Knowledge" was also published in the STC Usability SIG newsletter.

4. Made presentations and collected feedback
Presented ideas and collecting input about certification at industry conferences and meetings. Anyone with an interest in the topic was invited to participate and add their input. Positive, negative and ambivalent comments were all valuable in this investigation.

5. Conducted a survey to collect opinions and suggestions
The survey ran on Zoomerang from March 3 - May 31, 2002 with 978 total respondents. The link to this survey was published on several discussion lists in the US and Europe and distributed to UPA members.

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