Local Groups How-To (and Why) Stacy Merrill Surla [email_address] RUX (Richmond UX Group) April 30, 2008
Why are local groups important?
Hard to do it alone
The profession is growing, but...
A large proportion of UX professionals still work in relative isolation
Many projects rely on contractors – UXs who have to work on their own
Even companies with UX teams can lack managers who understand and care about user experience
“ Communities of Practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.”
Etienne Wenger, Cultivating Communities of Practice
Creates a Community of Practice
Local groups give UXs regular social and intellectual contact with peers
Validation and connectedness
Crucibles for new ideas
Volunteer projects help people network and get established in the profession or in new locations
Creates a Community of Practice
Local groups are more than just a nice thing to have. They're the key to the future. Building IA as a profession requires building IAs as professionals.
Builds the Field
“ Whether we like it or not, we are all in the business of influencing people's thoughts and behaviors; we are agents of change.
“ The stakes are higher now than ever before. How can one design for impact with awareness, efficiency, and responsibility?”
BJ Fogg, Persuasive Technology
Improves the World
"Why were people so excited about doing things when we talked in person, but when I followed up later via email, nothing happened?”
Javier Velasco, Santiago, Chile
“ When the dot com crash happened, the IA role disappeared. People hunkered down into roles that could be justified, like visual design and programming.”
Jason Hobbs, Johannesburg, South Africa
“ There are lots of professional groups, but no social groups. There's no place to go to talk about issues at work. We need a place to have human contact and talk about professional IA.”
Mary MacDonald, Boston, MA
“ In Germany we have five or six big cities where IAs could work, but these cities are far apart. The Netherlands has one main city. They have a local group and are meeting regularly. I'm very jealous of places like Amsterdam where people can get together and drink beer and talk about IA.”
Wolf Nöding, Nürnberg, Germany
Where do we start?
How do we gather interest?
Are we overdoing? Underdoing?
How do we keep up momentum?
IAI Local Groups Coordinator Survey
On the Ground Challenges
How Do You Do It?
“ A little perspiration, a lot of love, and a few glasses of wine”
Andrew Boyd, Canberra, Australia
Successful local groups work in three domains:
Volunteer leadership, project management, and party planning
Think “Spa” when organizing your group and when planning activities.
Everything should be refreshing, fun, meaningful, and good for you.
Keep things as simple as possible, but no simpler
Declare victory and celebrate often
Involve everybody who wants in
Give it away
Makes some simple plans
Up the ante when you get good at it
Replicate your successes
Work with related associations
From the “ Create a Network ” checklist on iainstitute.org
Speak up on listservs about your group
Find people and and invite them (eg IAI Member Directory, LinkedIn, Facebook...)
Attend events of related associations and cross-promote the group
Have an action item for people to respond to, like a low-key face-to-face meetup
Reach out to like-minded individuals
Decide what "success" means to you.
An event with 3 people or 20? One good conversation? Enthusiasm and the next event scheduled?
Organize an event
Face to Face Meetups
Little or no agenda (dinner, cocktail/coffee hour)