I’m looking forward—as usual—to the annual Usability Professionals’ Association conference next week in DC.
Oh, sorry. The User Experience Professionals’ Association conference next week in DC. (I’m still not entirely used to the name change.)
I’ve always told anyone who’s interested in usability that they should try to get to this conference if they can, because unlike some professional conferences, the sessions tend to be much more practical than academic. Most of the presenters are practitioners who are eager to share their experience, so it’s always interesting and very often useful.
But I realized last year that there’s another reason why I always enjoy the conference so much.
During the awards dinner (it’s an association; there has to be an awards dinner), I looked around the room and suddenly thought, “Boy, these are very nice people.” Obviously, I don’t know most of them personally, but over the years I’ve met a lot of them, and they tend to be—on average—a lot more decent and friendly than the general population.
I only had to think about it for a minute to understand why. Usability is basically a user advocate job. We try to make life easier for people by empathizing with them as they struggle to use technology. In fact, empathy is probably pretty much a prerequisite for a career in usability. So naturally, they tend to be nice to be around.
So do yourself a favor and attend a Usability/User Experience Professionals Association event, national or local.
And do me favor: If you’re at the conference next week and see me wandering around, please come up and say Hi. Getting a chance to talk to a lot of people is always one of the nicest things about the week. (And in case you were wondering, I love signing copies of my books, too.)