The U P A voice
August 2004 Contents

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UPA leaders share experience,
plot future plans

Kerrie Green and Whitney Quesenbery

UPA Board of Directors

Just before the beginning of the UPA 2004 conference, more than 20 people gathered for the UPA leadership summit. Planned as the first version of an annual event, the meeting brought members from chapters, the conference committee, UPA projects, and the board of directors together to talk about the association’s future direction.

The event started with short presentations on the lifecycle of associations, the role of strategic planning, and the impact of being an international organization; then discussions branched out to the annual report and a look at UPA activities from many different directions.


Around the world, chapters have taken many different approaches to creating a local UPA organization:

  • In Chicago, the chapter is part of a network of organizations that share a calendar.
  • Boston holds an annual mini-conference.
  • Many chapters have job boards and a focus on networking for jobs or contracts.

The group discussed the value of having student chapters, or a way to introduce local students to UPA. Mary Beth Rettger suggested connecting with colleges that have usability programs so we can invite new graduates to join. Paul Sherman pointed out that many continuing education programs are budgeted based on their enrollment, so a connection to UPA could be a good business decision for them.

Diane Wilson suggested that not everyone lives near a chapter. For her, “you get out of it what you put into it.” (And as UPA’s former Web manager and conference chair, she has put in a lot!)

The value of sharing

Many UPA members are the only usability professionals in their companies. For them, UPA is an important collegial resource. The group discussed ideas for providing more support to these types of individuals. Many centered on using chapters as a way to gather bits of material from chapter meetings and then distribute it out to the rest of the organization – creating tentacles of connection. Other ideas included:

  • Running workshops and idea markets at chapter meetings, and then posting the results for all to share.
  • Creating professional profiles locally and sharing them (see UK UPA’s Questions to Ask Your Usability Supplier as an example).
  • Providing samples of material for how to build business cases to help people who need inspiration, as well as providing Web resources on the subject.
  • Offering a collection of sample deliverables from competitive research to usability test notes and standard participant releases.
  • Creating a “news feed” or some other way to gather the best of the chapter newsletters for everyone to reach.

Additionally the group wanted to increase awareness about UPA through the Web site itself. Lyle Kantovich suggested the UPA site should be free like the Society of Technical Communicators’ site, which “helps build their brand” be making resources available to the public. Caroline Jarrett commented she points people “to the STC because there is a lot of 'stuff' to start with [on usability].” By offering some free Web resources, UPA could build its brand while also becoming an authoritative place for information about usability.

The first annual leadership summit at this year’s conference provided a great venue for gathering ideas on promoting and growing the organization. It was great to see so much energy and great ideas. UPA plans to do it again next year to create a broad, deep pool of leadership within the organization. Connecting all of our work is critical so we can see how much we are doing within the field.

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