by Martin Belam, 6 June 2012

You might have seen that the Usability Professionals’ Association has rebranded as the User Experience Professionals’ Association. Jason Mesut’s diagram and Matthew Solle’s fable about job titles make salient points more eloquently than I will. I’m just going to focus on one thing.

I’ve got a great deal of time for people who volunteer to run organisations for members, and I’ve had a long relationship with the UPA. I first spoke at a UKUPA event back in 2003 with Mags Hanley, and I’ve given talks for World Usability Day - “No more ‘us and them’: How 20 years of digital comms smashed the boundaries between media & audience” - and at last year’s UPA conference in Atlanta - “Changing the Guardian through guerilla usability testing”.

Maybe I’d feel differently if I was at the UPA UXPA conference and was clutching my nicely newly branded water bottle, but I’m not. I’m outside. My face pressed up against the glass.

And if you visit the UPA website, right now, 24 hours after the announcement, there isn’t a single mention of it.

Upa Homepage

I thought I’d search the site for some information, and a search for UXPA yields two documents, both from 2004. Neither of any relevance.

Upa Search

And what looks like the URL for the new site is a domain parking page.

Uxpa Not Found

So let’s get this straight. For thousands of professionals around the world like me, you just unilaterally changed us from being non-members of an organisation aimed at usability professionals, to being non-members of an organisation that claims to represent us.

And you didn’t think to leave a note on your website about it?

Holy WTF Batman.

How do you think that feels as a “user experience”?


I really don't want to hate or nitpick or criticize. I know a lot of this organization-type work is done during people's free time, for free. But it makes me sad that so many usability and design groups have such awful websites. You're right. It'd be one thing if it was an association of dentists. Or carpenters. But we're designers. Last year I signed up to become a member of the IA Institute prior to going to the IA Summit. The registration for that organization wasn't just confusing, it was downright bizarre. How do we expect to be taken seriously as designers when our public-facing stuff is so poorly designed?

Just had the same "experience" and am certainly perplexed. I found your post while searching unsuccessfully for UXPA. I'm a recruiter for UX since 2004 so I see all the UX related sites. Mostly, they are difficult to navigate and use. As a paying customer most of the time (to post my job openings) I find them cumbersome, onerous and average at best in their design. Yet I am charged for the use. The last line of your comment above certainly resonated with me.

I completely understand the frustration and disappointment about how this name change was announced. Frankly, one can argue that the Board didn't have enough of a plan in place to prepare every aspect of the launch. Fair enough.

Things have changed a lot in the last week., I'd welcome you all to enter into the conversation at a new site set up by the Board specifically for dialogue: http://www.uxpa.org/. Over time, UXPA will be launching a new website - everyone agrees that the old one is a travesty. You're right, Ryan, that the organization has been held back by the fact that everyone is a volunteer. UXPA welcomes your voices, your ideas, your support, your critique, your hands, and, hopefully, eventually, your hearts. Please - enter the discussion. UXPA needs you because to make things really change, there needs a LOT more volunteers. Hopefully you can be part of the new direction.

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