Thursday, July 20, 2006

Turn the page

It's been a very eventful 20 days since my last post.

Tomorrow is my last day in the position I've held for the last 6 years -- one in which my day-in and day-out focus was to manage a multi-channel self-service knowledge database and email routing support system that has reached and maintained a consistent 98% success rating (i.e., 98% of visitors to the Support site never submit an email -- the assumption being that the vast majority find value in the content posted there, so that contact with the support reps isn't necessary).

It's a position I've taken very seriously, and one which I felt was a natural gateway to the field of usability/user experience. I owe a great debt of gratitude to those who originally brought me into the position, as they instilled in me the need to push the system to its limits and always always ALWAYS provide the analytics that prove the system's value, to both the end consumer AND the company.

The past year has been extremely challenging -- the company's culture has changed to the point where it's been akin to pulling fingernails to get upper management to pay attention to the fact that, as a vice-president said in a recent conference call, "there's gold in the hills" to be had, if only the desire is there to put the work in to find it.

Starting next week, I embark on the next phase of my career, one that will focus almost exclusively on "mining the gold" of user input and inquiry in the development of software and web-based products. The education I've received in Human Factors in Information Design has paid off in spades, even though I have yet to finish the program.

Subsequent posts here should be far more informed and robust, from the viewpoint of a full-time practitioner in a company that already has "buy-in," rather than from someone who's constantly trying to make people sit up and take notice of what the field has to offer.

Needless to say, I can't wait to get started.

Somewhat of a parting shot from the usability gods -- as I went through the formal exit interview today, my supervisor informed me of some benefits-related information, supposedly available on the company's intranet, that I might want to look at. She searched in vain for about 5 minutes: "It should be HERE! Where is it? No . . . No . . . No . . . Why isn't it under here? . . ."

I just couldn't help but say it: "Sounds like a usability problem."

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