The U P A voice
Feb 2004 Contents

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Results of the UPA Members' Conference Preference Survey

Whitney Quesenbery

UPA President

A lot of different factors go into making the decision about where to hold the annual UPA conferences: availability of good facilities, costs, hotel room prices, available dates, and an attractive destination. Of course, as usability professionals, we like to make decisions based on good user research, so last month we conducted a survey of member preferences about the conference location. We asked about what factors influence your decision, how you make travel plans, and tested a few locations in the western United States . There was a good response, with 394 people weighing in (that's just over 20% of everyone in UPA).

You can read the complete survey report (pdf 144Kb), but here are a few of the highlights:

  • It was no surprise that the content of the conference is the most important factor.
  • We like to go to nice locations , but we have a lot of different opinions about what “nice” is. Some like resorts, others like downtown venues.
  • Long-distance travel is difficult for some people, so our pattern of moving the conference from year to year brings it closer to home for different people each year.
  • Everyone wants a good overall value , but we watch the cost of registration, travel and hotels about equally carefully. (The hotel is particularly important to UPA, because the cost of the conference space is based on the number of attendees who stay in the conference hotel.)
  • There are some groups of members with special requirements : people who work in government, with its travel regulations; those who are self-employed, unemployed or whose companies do not fund their professional development; and those who live outside of the US . Those voices need to be considered in conference planning

Every year we hold the conference in a different region, looking for areas with a strong usability community (and a good value on the conference facility). This year, we will meet in Minneapolis , in the center of the US . In 2005, we take our first step across the border, visiting Montreal and moving to the east (mark your calendars for June 27- July 1, 2005 ). In the next few months, we will be planning the 2006 (western) and 2007 (south/central) locations. We are also beginning to think about how we step further abroad, as part of an increased focus on making UPA a truly international organization.

See you at UPA 2004 - Minneapolis ( June 7-11, 2004 ).

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