CUA of the Month – November, 2012

Amanda Messer
"It’s not just my opinion, there is research, and these are the way things are designed today for a reason, not just me making them up."
 
Amanda Messer
Usability & UI Specialist ,
Hyland Software, Inc.

One Person Can Make a Difference

by Jim Garrett

If you’ve ever wondered if one person can make a difference in bringing usability into a company, just ask Amanda Messer of Hyland Software, Inc.

Hyland develops the award-winning enterprise content management (ECM) solution OnBase. The software company has been in business for over 21 years, and as a leader in the ECM market, has over 11,000 customers.

OnBase is a configurable solution that is able to meet exactly what each customer’s needs are, regardless of the industry, and helps eliminate paper, gets information faster, and improves business processes.

Amanda has been at Hyland Software for five years.

So how did usability enter into this business demand?

“I was in tech support and then after two years moved to QA,” explained Amanda. “It was in QA that I got to be a part of our first usability test. Then I moved into a product ownership role and became more deeply involved in software design. The idea to do a usability test was suggested by another employee through our Innovation Program. Since the product I worked on went through the first round of testing, I got to play a big role in it. I then started talking with management about expanding my role to doing usability testing on all of our products and creating a full time position.”

Enter Human Factors International

Amanda became intrigued with usability and designing interfaces. “It took off in 2011 when we brought in an HFI CUA who has become a mentor to me. He suggested HFI’s training and I approached the VP of our department explaining the need to go to training “said Amanda.

Amanda has been running with it since then. She completed her HFI training and became Hyland’s first CUA in July of this year, her very first task after being granted a full-time position to focus on usability. Since then she’s been working with management to create the vision, incorporating what she thinks needs to be done, and creating even more positions. “The HFI training was the catalyst for everything that I’ve been able to accomplish this year in my new role. It’s where it all started,” commented Amanda.

What did you like best about CUA training?

“I really liked talking with people who have done this before. I was able to make connections with other usability professionals and build relationships. Before I went for CUA training, I had been studying what it takes to design a useable application, how to run a good usability test, and everything usability-related for a year — so everything wasn’t so brand new. But, there was great value in knowing we should do this now, and then this is the next step. If a person was brand new to usability, they would get a lot out of the training, but for me it was how we can influence our culture, the right pace to do so, and validating what we had been doing in the past or how we could improve it,” explained Amanda.

“It was so beneficial to see from others how they navigated specific scenarios with their executives, how they introduced guidelines or introduced training — that’s really helped me out,” added Amanda.

Any key bit of knowledge she’s been able to apply that made a difference?

“I got a new passion for task analysis in the User-Centered Analysis and Conceptual Design course. Mapping out tasks and diagrams really helped me see the value of task analysis and how I could use it.

“If we know what their goals are, and the order they are going to complete their tasks, we can refer back to that diagram while building the UI and see if something is inefficient because they are going through extra steps. The trainer of this class was very good,” explained Amanda.

“Plus, I think the training gave me an even deeper understanding, always something I have in my back pocket. It’s not just my opinion, there is research, and these are the way things are designed today for a reason, not just me making them up. So it gives me more credibility. And coming back, I use the books as reference material almost daily. They are a great reference!” added Amanda.

What is your approach now after CUA training?

“I’m working with the VP of Development and my manager, the VP of Quality Assurance, to determine all of the different teams that will benefit from usability assistance and how they can be trained to design better and how we can incorporate that into current projects.

We have many different teams for all types of solutions and I’m tasked with working on the usability of five or six projects going out next year; that’s a major change. We’re trying to integrate usability into the way we work, how we plan out our work, and still determining how we will be designing applications five years from now,” offered Amanda.

As an added plus from the training, the local chapter of the UXPA had openings for board members. “I applied and said I was going to be CUA certified and I got accepted!” said Amanda.

Congratulations to Amanda Messer of Hyland Software, Inc. for being a true champion of usability and earning Human Factors International’s Certified Usability Analyst of the Month honors.

CUA of the Month

Each month we highlight the successes and achievements of a different member of our CUA community. If you are a Certified Usability Analyst and would like to be considered for CUA of the Month recognition, please send a brief professional bio to hfi@humanfactors.com

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