Manila-based usability consultant Regnard Raquedan has celebrated World Usability Day (WUD) for the past six years—every one of them. User Experience editor Joe Bugental talks to Regnard about how last year’s WUD was celebrated in the Philippines, and Regnard’s plans for this year’s event.
User Experience: How is the usability practice and community in the Philippines?
Regnard Raquedan: It’s a very small community. We only have a few experts who have formal training in the field and a few usability analysts who are primarily working in IT and outsourcing firms. Unfortunately, many companies here still view usability as an afterthought.
Events like WUD present an opportunity to recognize the folks who are working in the field. They are also a way to highlight the importance of user experience in the local scene. So when the first WUD came about in 2005, I immediately organized something because I felt it was a jolt the community needed.
While it’s a pat on the back that the Philippines is among the pioneer event locations for WUD, the small growth of local UX activity since then presents me personally with a great challenge.
UX: How did you celebrate WUD last year?
RR: The 2010 event was a networking session featuring a talk on usability by Rose Seva and Ronaldo Polancos.
I figured that the community had never had an event to meet and just talk about usability in a more relaxed manner. I wanted to capture the best of what we did in past events and make some tweaks. We’ve always done the speaker-audience format, but I was conscious of a need to allow more time afterward for networking.
I had some contacts through my consulting work, plus the folks who have been regulars at WUD events in Manila. A good amount of effort was involved to make sure that the venue and registration process were in place.
UX: How did you make it happen?
RR: I used social media primarily, Facebook, Twitter, and my blog, “UX Marks the Spot” (http://ux.raquedan.com). What made the event successful was the diversity of the participants—there were usability professionals, academics, IT developers, and a couple of managers. There have always been new folks attending, and we make time to talk and share stories. I remember a few attendees who were frustrated about their company’s usability guidelines, to the point that they made a nickname for them, “Jemima’s Rules.” (Jemima is not the real name of their usability consultant.)
UX: Any lessons learned?
RR: It’s better to have more intimate events, given the small usability community here. I was surprised how well people responded to the social aspect of the event. It seemed they were happy that there were other people like them who were interested in usability.
UX: This year’s theme is about designing for social change. You’ve designed websites for non-profit organizations in the past. Can you use that experience?
RR: My experience with non-profit organizations for social benefit was pretty good. One of the organizations that comes to mind is the Philippine Business for Social Progress. They are a group that works with corporations to help alleviate poverty in the Philippines.
Their main challenge, though, is their own sustainability, since they don’t want to rely solely on the big grants to fund their operations. I helped them gear their websites toward smaller donations and easier contact. There was a great deal of client education to show the value of UX and explain why some of their ideas weren’t sound from the user’s point of view.
UX: What are your plans for WUD 2011?
RR: I want to continue the community-building initiatives and reach out to more people in the Philippines. Apart from that, I would like to build more awareness of usability as a legitimate field and perhaps involve a younger group of people. One final idea is to forge partnerships with other organizations with similar objectives.
UX: Thank you. We wish you the best of luck!
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