Monday, January 17, 2005

Easy5: India's fifth usability conference

And speaking of offshore user experience research, design, and development...

I used to teach a full-semester (15-week) "user-centered design / usability engineering" workshop via University of California Berkeley Extension. It was a very successful course, one which significantly changed many of the participants' worklives for many years to come.

One of those participants was Pradeep Henry, who after taking the course, returned to India to, among other things, build India's first usability lab, write a textbook on user-centered information design, found and chair CHI South India (India's only chartered SIGCHI chapter), build a usability & design team at Cognizant (which has completed more than 225 offshore user interface evaluation and design projects), and chair India's first five conferences on software usability.

For each of these software usability conferences, Pradeep has asked for my recommendations regarding who to invite to appear as a plenary speaker, and he has followed my recommendations each year, beginning with Susan Wolfe for 2001, then Joe Konstan for 2002, me for 2003 (hey, he had actually asked me to be the plenary speaker for 2001 and then for 2002, so when he failed to ask me for 2003, who else was I going to recommend? ;-), Aaron Marcus for 2004, and Marc Rettig for this year.

This year's conference -- Easy5 -- takes place later this week in Bangalore.

(Pradeep will be a member of the "Outsourcing & Offshoring: Impact on the User Experience" panel I'll be moderating at CHI 2005.)

Outsourcing & Offshoring: Impact on the User Experience

The extent to which product development is outsourced offshore continues to increase, creating considerable controversy.

What is the impact of this on the user experience (UX)? Can UX research and design be done effectively offshore? Should certain types of this work remain onshore? On what do answers to these questions depend?

At CHI 2005 in April, I'll be moderating a panel which will attempt to answer these and related types of questions. Organized by Liam Friedland and Jon Innes, the panel will feature an array of perspectives: from technology startup to large company; from U.S.-based outsourcing and offshoring of all or only select parts of UX research & design, to full-service design and development done entirely offshore.

What are your questions and experiences regarding this topic? Let me know as I begin to prepare for moderating this important panel.