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Supporting the Community

Usability staff members often quickly form a community of interest within their company. They may not be formally connected within the organization, but they have traditionally banded together. In the past, the usability team often consisted of a small group of people who were undervalued and often under attack. Developers saw them as an annoyance and tried to marginalize them because they were seen as working in a “soft” and unimportant area. Generally, a persecuted minority clings together, and the usability staff members were no exception. Their mutual support was often all that sustained the effort, providing a conduit of information and resources, as well as mutual emotional support. Alone yet surrounded by people with a system-centered view, it was easy to start thinking you were crazy and to lose the will to keep working. But the small circle of colleagues made all the difference.

In the future, we will not be able to rely on the “small surrounded group” phenomenon to maintain a lively usability engineering community. Usability will be accepted and routine. Therefore, we will need to work explicitly to keep a lively community going.


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