Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Ten Things You Can Do in Ten Minutes To Be a More Successful Usability Professional

You need a break and, instead of heading to the coffee pot, what can you do in 10 minutes that will refresh and energize you and increase your job satisfaction and career success?

  1. Find a design or usability conference to go to and send an email to your manager giving 10 reasons why this will help you perform better. If travel is a problem, find a local seminar to go to like BostonCHI or an online seminar, or fund it yourself and make a vacation out of the trip.
  2. Find a design or usability conference to submit to. It is much better to go to a conference as a speaker and the process of figuring out what you want to talk about and writing an abstract will be a valuable reflection process.
  3. Write a short description of what you learned at the last conference or seminar you went to or the last article or book you read and circulate it to your colleagues. They will appreciate it and it will reinforce what you learned. It might also help your chances of getting funding for your next conference (see 1).
  4. Do a search on "design", "usability", "evaluation", or another topic related to your job and see what people find. Refine your search and try again. Maybe you'll find something you want to look at, maybe not. If not, use the rest of your ten minutes and search on something totally different, like "swing dancing", and see if you like the results better.
  5. Write a note your manager with 10 reasons why you deserve a 10% salary increase (or to your biggest client why you are raising your rates). Don't send it unless you came up with the reasons quickly. If you struggled with the list, rewrite it as the 10 things you need to do to deserve a 10% salary increase. Then act upon it.
  6. Use 10 web sites (or products such as cell phones) and think about how they are designed. What would you do to improve them?
  7. Read 10 current job descriptions and see how many you are qualified for. Write down 10 ideas for your own professional development just in case you ever want to go job hunting.
  8. Email the usability expert you most admire and ask him or her to schedule a 10 minute phone call with you to discuss your three most important questions. Write up what you learn (when you have the call) and circulate it to your colleagues (see 3). Also, make sure you introduce yourself to that person at your next conference (see 1).
  9. Work on your professional network online by going to LinkedIn or another social networking site and joining other usability professionals there. Or go to a design or usability blog and make a comment.
  10. Ask a colleague the most exciting design idea he or she has had or read about recently and discuss it why it is exciting. You can do this by phone or email, but over coffee is best. See, you get to go to the coffee pot after all!

Finally, think of your own idea for a 10 minute activity that can renew and improve your practice and post it as a comment to this article so others can benefit.

This list is modified from my blog and I want to thank the people who made suggestions and comments!

Lisa Neal

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

HotJobs software replacement?

Hi there. This is my first blog post ever, so be kind... :)

As the BostonCHI Hot Jobs coordinator, I need to be able to manage the mailing list and send out job postings. For the past few years, we've used Topica, which is a free service. It's ok, but has a number of flaws. Here's the list archive, if you'd like to check it out:

  1. I don't reliably get subscription requests emailed to me.
  2. The list member management is really archaic and clunky.
  3. The posting mechanisms work best if done through their web form, which is inconvenient.
  4. It redacts any email addresses in a message so that they must be clicked on to send an email to that address through Topica. To some people this might be a feature, but it's inconvenient to the job seekers.
But, it's free and keeps an archive automatically.

Here are some features that I'd really like in a replacement:
  1. Subscription requests are vetted against the BostonCHI membership list. Members would get automatically accepted and non-members would get a polite declining email.
  2. I'd like to be able to send a post via email to the service that doesn't get munged.
  3. Have a nicer interface.
  4. Have better list management features.
I would imagine that some combination of Perl sripts and the mailing list software currently hosted by the BostonCHI's web host would get me #1, but probably not #3 or #4.

I had thought of creating a private Google Group, as I think that people can receive posts via email and not have to create a Google account. Or, perhaps some sort of blogging endeavor? There're also sites like these which encompass some or all group organization, but are paid services.
Does anyone have any ideas?