I blogged about these words a while back. http://belveal.net/?p=784 That is, the current usage of term, “User Experience” (UX) displacing “Usability” as the defining term of our profession.
Now the Usability Professionals Association has changed its name to the User eXperience Professionals Association and many are UP in Arms about it. so, I thought I’d go ahead and weigh in on this topic.
When I search for UXPA, Google says, ”Did you mean: ukspa?” I guess Google didn’t
UX is better than Usability, not just because it’s seXy. Usability was too often equated to “Ease of Use” which sounds whiny and misses the point on quality and performance entirely. Easy is not the goal. It is a necessary attribute and a tactic for achieving a total experience. When was the last time you went to a movie because you heard it was easy to watch? Certainly easy is expected and important, but it plays a supportive role to a higher goal.
Besides all that, there’s the issue of changing one’s name and the trouble it can cause, preservation of branding, etc. But people do it all the time. Yes, its a little awkward and abrupt, but I’m guessing we’ll still be able to find them in the phone book, for those of us usability Luddites who still have a phone book.
Some may recall a similar change a few years ago when The Human Factors Society became The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. That change was in response to the term “Ergonomics” being used heavily in practice with a growing recognition by the outside world of the term and at least some degree of understanding of its meaning. That change was complicated by the apparent redundancy of the terms and the slightly different practical definition between Americans and Europeans.
The same resistance to change was present with the HFS to HFES that we see here, but the organization seems to have weathered it okay. Nevertheless, when it was all done, most of our mothers still didn’t really know what we do for a living any better than before.
PS – For what its worth, I was in the room at CHI 92 in Monterrey where Janice James turned a “birds of a feather” group on usability testing into a long lasting organization heralding and supporting the noble cause of making software less crappy. She could have called it the Software Decrappifying Professionals Association and that would have been accurate, but usability was a word that people were beginning to use a lot in those days to describe what was the most glaring deficiency in IT at that time and what people like us had to offer. UPA made perfect sense.
Now twenty years later, the bar has been raised. Usability finally made it into the spell-checker and has been there for some time. We have more to communicate. So, I for one, am in favor of the new name, just as long as this is the final change! No more changes after this! lol