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February 2010 Contents

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UPA 2010


UPA Adopts New Commercial Content Policy

Rich Gunther

Rich Gunther serves as UPA's Secretary and Director of Members and Volunteers. Rich has been in the usability field since 1998. He currently is a principal and co-owner of Ovo Studios, a usability lab and software tools vendor, as well as a partner in The Usability Team, a user experience consultancy.

The UPA adopted a new policy covering how it treats commercial content in all channels. Historically UPA has lacked a well-defined policy on what content is permissible for inclusion in publications, presentation at conferences, or endorsement with the UPA brand and identity. In absence of such a policy, issues arose at times when guidelines were not consistently applied.

In late 2009, the UPA Board of Directors surveyed a group of committee and chapter leaders to assess their attitudes about including so-called "sales" or "commercial" content. The results of this survey were analyzed and used to inform a draft policy statement. This statement was reviewed by UPA leadership and revised based on their feedback. In January 2010, a motion to approve the policy was presented and passed unanimously.

New Policy

The policy will go into effect immediately and should be used to inform content planning for conferences, events, and publications at all levels of the UPA organization. The policy is as follows:

"When considering content for UPA Conferences, Publications, Events, or the UPA Web site, it is important to consider if the content discusses products or services that are for-profit or commercial. This content could take the following forms:

  • Overviews or tutorials of commercially available software for usability practitioners
  • Training sessions for commercially-available professional certifications
  • Presentations that discuss a method or content available in a for-profit book or journal
  • Discussions by UX or other consultants about their for-sale methods or research
  • Sales demos, marketing pitches, or solicitations

While content of this type should not be immediately disallowed, it should be classified into one of two categories: Commercial Non-Sales and Commercial Sales.

Commercial Non-Sales Content

Commercial Non-Sales content should be entitled to the same benefits and treatment, and also subjected to the same scrutiny as any other UPA content. It is important that this content:

  • Does provide an inherent value to the UPA community, whether it is a presentation of research findings or training on a method or tool.
  • Does show the same methodological rigor and quality of content that any other content accepted by the UPA would.
  • Does not explicitly promote or sell a tool, method, service, book, or other for-profit item.
  • Does not result in any direct compensation for the presenter or author of the content with the exception of usual and customary payments from the UPA that are made for content of similar format, e.g., tutorials.

Commercial Sales Content

On the other hand, Commercial Sales content must be presented without conflict of interest, with full disclosure, and must provide a tangible benefit to the organization. It is important that this content:

  • Is completely free to UPA members or UPA conference attendees.
  • Is clearly marked as commercial sales content in the conference program, article header, or through another appropriate annotation.
  • Does not result in any direct compensation to the presenters or the companies they represent.
  • Does not conflict with or supersede "non-commercial" content .
  • Could result in the presenter or the company they represent paying UPA for the right to present the content, up to the discretion of the UPA committee evaluating the content for inclusion.

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