CUA of the Month – August, 2007

Katie Pasko
"There is no substitute for watching someone try to accomplish a task. Sometimes you feel like you know what the different audiences want, but then you get their feedback and it's an eye opener."
 
Katie Pasko
Certified Usability Analyst
Research Foundation of SUNY

Usability: A Solid Foundation

by June Oliver

A solid foundation is a good thing and Katie Pasko has two of them. This year she completed all the CUA certification courses and earned her credential in four months flat. Now she's using the bedrock principles of usability to build a better Web at the Research Foundation of State University of New York (RF).

The Research Foundation is about as solid as a foundation can be. It's been around for 55 years. It's one of the largest academic research and development support networks in the world. The 2006 statistics are impressive: 7,900 research and training projects, $725 million in sponsored funding, 284 new invention disclosures, 193 patent applications, and $10.8 million in licensing royalties from corporate partners.

Katie Pasko is the Web Manager in the RF's Corporate Communications Department at the central office in Albany. "I came to usability from a communications background," she says. "To communicate effectively, you have to think in terms of different audiences and how to give them what they want."

Katie's Web site serves a variety of audiences, each with its own portal. "We have a public portal for people who want information about the corporation. We structured several separate portals around the specific needs of our internal audiences: principal investigators, research administrators, operations managers, and board members. There are more than 3,000 principal investigators conducting research on 30 campuses."

The Research Foundation is a private, non-profit educational foundation. Its independence from the state government allows it to flex with the shifting tectonics of sponsored research. It's a world where opportunities arise quickly. Competition is keen. Response time is short. Requirements are stringent. Collaboration is vital. And record keeping is critical. It's a world made for the Web, and Katie's Web is made for that world.

"When I was hired seven years ago, we were transitioning to Oracle from our mainframe and static programs like FrontPage and Dreamweaver. Now we are using Oracle Portal, which allows users to access information and applications anywhere and any time," says Katie. "We began to redesign the site two years ago, focusing on a user-centered design.

"We went about it in several phases, and our end-users were involved from the very beginning. We usability tested the old site. We found out what was wrong, where the frustrations were. We used focus groups representing the different audiences. Our customers gave us input on what they needed from the site."

Katie and the design team used an iterative approach, making wireframes and going back to the users for feedback. Once the prototype was released, the team continued testing and tweaking, gathering feedback through Web conferences and online surveys. Then they phased in a rollout for 100 users.

"Until people start using it, you just don't know what issues will come up," says Katie. "There is no substitute for watching someone try to accomplish a task. Sometimes you feel like you know what the different audiences want, but then you get their feedback and it's an eye opener."

When staff from the various campuses travel to Albany for meetings, Katie is sometimes able to piggy-back on them to conduct in-person testing efficiently. "I really enjoy talking to people and watching how they work. When someone shows you something you can improve, you can have a big impact. With thirty campuses, every change gets multiplied many times. The impact multiplies in dollars and cents – and in user satisfaction."

Though Katie was no stranger to usability, she found HFI's CUA training extremely valuable. "I've taken training through several companies throughout my career. I felt that HFI was by far the best I've attended. The courses are very interactive and interesting, very applicable to the 'real world.'"

Gaining expertise in usability was a career goal that Katie developed with her manager, Cathy Kaszluga, VP of Corporate Communications. She and Katie are now prime advocates for institutionalizing usability at the Research Foundation.

"I have more knowledge and credibility with this certification. I'm busy redesigning several areas of the site and plan to do usability testing with users. And I'm working on developing standard practices and methods that will help us to maintain the site more efficiently and effectively. I also write a usability article each month for our central office, about 200 people."

Katie's enthusiasm has spread to the Information Services (IS) staff, the technical talent behind the RF Web site. Two people in IS recently attended the HFI course on effective Web and application design.

"We all want our site to be intuitive and easy-to-use," explains Katie. "I plan to develop a continuous feedback loop with users so I can keep improving the usability of the site. I'm also in the process of recruiting for a Web Content Specialist who can help with that. A background in Web usability and user-centered design is a must."

"To anyone who is thinking of getting their certification I would say, 'Go for it. It's a great career move!'"

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

Privacy policy

Reviewed: 18 Mar 2014

This Privacy Policy governs the manner in which Human Factors International, Inc., an Iowa corporation (“HFI”) collects, uses, maintains and discloses information collected from users (each, a “User”) of its humanfactors.com website and any derivative or affiliated websites on which this Privacy Policy is posted (collectively, the “Website”). HFI reserves the right, at its discretion, to change, modify, add or remove portions of this Privacy Policy at any time by posting such changes to this page. You understand that you have the affirmative obligation to check this Privacy Policy periodically for changes, and you hereby agree to periodically review this Privacy Policy for such changes. The continued use of the Website following the posting of changes to this Privacy Policy constitutes an acceptance of those changes.

Cookies

HFI may use “cookies” or “web beacons” to track how Users use the Website. A cookie is a piece of software that a web server can store on Users’ PCs and use to identify Users should they visit the Website again. Users may adjust their web browser software if they do not wish to accept cookies. To withdraw your consent after accepting a cookie, delete the cookie from your computer.

Privacy

HFI believes that every User should know how it utilizes the information collected from Users. The Website is not directed at children under 13 years of age, and HFI does not knowingly collect personally identifiable information from children under 13 years of age online. Please note that the Website may contain links to other websites. These linked sites may not be operated or controlled by HFI. HFI is not responsible for the privacy practices of these or any other websites, and you access these websites entirely at your own risk. HFI recommends that you review the privacy practices of any other websites that you choose to visit.

HFI is based, and this website is hosted, in the United States of America. If User is from the European Union or other regions of the world with laws governing data collection and use that may differ from U.S. law and User is registering an account on the Website, visiting the Website, purchasing products or services from HFI or the Website, or otherwise using the Website, please note that any personally identifiable information that User provides to HFI will be transferred to the United States. Any such personally identifiable information provided will be processed and stored in the United States by HFI or a service provider acting on its behalf. By providing your personally identifiable information, User hereby specifically and expressly consents to such transfer and processing and the uses and disclosures set forth herein.

In the course of its business, HFI may perform expert reviews, usability testing, and other consulting work where personal privacy is a concern. HFI believes in the importance of protecting personal information, and may use measures to provide this protection, including, but not limited to, using consent forms for participants or “dummy” test data.

The Information HFI Collects

Users browsing the Website without registering an account or affirmatively providing personally identifiable information to HFI do so anonymously. Otherwise, HFI may collect personally identifiable information from Users in a variety of ways. Personally identifiable information may include, without limitation, (i)contact data (such as a User’s name, mailing and e-mail addresses, and phone number); (ii)demographic data (such as a User’s zip code, age and income); (iii) financial information collected to process purchases made from HFI via the Website or otherwise (such as credit card, debit card or other payment information); (iv) other information requested during the account registration process; and (v) other information requested by our service vendors in order to provide their services. If a User communicates with HFI by e-mail or otherwise, posts messages to any forums, completes online forms, surveys or entries or otherwise interacts with or uses the features on the Website, any information provided in such communications may be collected by HFI. HFI may also collect information about how Users use the Website, for example, by tracking the number of unique views received by the pages of the Website, or the domains and IP addresses from which Users originate. While not all of the information that HFI collects from Users is personally identifiable, it may be associated with personally identifiable information that Users provide HFI through the Website or otherwise. HFI may provide ways that the User can opt out of receiving certain information from HFI. If the User opts out of certain services, User information may still be collected for those services to which the User elects to subscribe. For those elected services, this Privacy Policy will apply.

How HFI Uses Information

HFI may use personally identifiable information collected through the Website for the specific purposes for which the information was collected, to process purchases and sales of products or services offered via the Website if any, to contact Users regarding products and services offered by HFI, its parent, subsidiary and other related companies in order to otherwise to enhance Users’ experience with HFI. HFI may also use information collected through the Website for research regarding the effectiveness of the Website and the business planning, marketing, advertising and sales efforts of HFI. HFI does not sell any User information under any circumstances.

Disclosure of Information

HFI may disclose personally identifiable information collected from Users to its parent, subsidiary and other related companies to use the information for the purposes outlined above, as necessary to provide the services offered by HFI and to provide the Website itself, and for the specific purposes for which the information was collected. HFI may disclose personally identifiable information at the request of law enforcement or governmental agencies or in response to subpoenas, court orders or other legal process, to establish, protect or exercise HFI’s legal or other rights or to defend against a legal claim or as otherwise required or allowed by law. HFI may disclose personally identifiable information in order to protect the rights, property or safety of a User or any other person. HFI may disclose personally identifiable information to investigate or prevent a violation by User of any contractual or other relationship with HFI or the perpetration of any illegal or harmful activity. HFI may also disclose aggregate, anonymous data based on information collected from Users to investors and potential partners. Finally, HFI may disclose or transfer personally identifiable information collected from Users in connection with or in contemplation of a sale of its assets or business or a merger, consolidation or other reorganization of its business.

Personal Information as Provided by User

If a User includes such User’s personally identifiable information as part of the User posting to the Website, such information may be made available to any parties using the Website. HFI does not edit or otherwise remove such information from User information before it is posted on the Website. If a User does not wish to have such User’s personally identifiable information made available in this manner, such User must remove any such information before posting. HFI is not liable for any damages caused or incurred due to personally identifiable information made available in the foregoing manners. For example, a User posts on an HFI-administered forum would be considered Personal Information as provided by User and subject to the terms of this section.

Security of Information

Information about Users that is maintained on HFI’s systems or those of its service providers is protected using industry standard security measures. However, no security measures are perfect or impenetrable, and HFI cannot guarantee that the information submitted to, maintained on or transmitted from its systems will be completely secure. HFI is not responsible for the circumvention of any privacy settings or security measures relating to the Website by any Users or third parties.

Correcting, Updating, Accessing or Removing Personal Information

If a User’s personally identifiable information changes, or if a User no longer desires to receive non-account specific information from HFI, HFI will endeavor to provide a way to correct, update and/or remove that User’s previously-provided personal data. This can be done by emailing a request to HFI at hfi@humanfactors.com. Additionally, you may request access to the personally identifiable information as collected by HFI by sending a request to HFI as set forth above. Please note that in certain circumstances, HFI may not be able to completely remove a User’s information from its systems. For example, HFI may retain a User’s personal information for legitimate business purposes, if it may be necessary to prevent fraud or future abuse, for account recovery purposes, if required by law or as retained in HFI’s data backup systems or cached or archived pages. All retained personally identifiable information will continue to be subject to the terms of the Privacy Policy to which the User has previously agreed.

Contacting HFI

If you have any questions or comments about this Privacy Policy, you may contact HFI via any of the following methods:
Human Factors International, Inc.
PO Box 2020
1680 highway 1, STE 3600
Fairfield IA 52556
hfi@humanfactors.com
(800) 242-4480

Terms and Conditions for Public Training Courses

Reviewed: 18 Mar 2014

Cancellation of Course by HFI

HFI reserves the right to cancel any course up to 14 (fourteen) days prior to the first day of the course. Registrants will be promptly notified and will receive a full refund or be transferred to the equivalent class of their choice within a 12-month period. HFI is not responsible for travel expenses or any costs that may be incurred as a result of cancellations.

Cancellation of Course by Participants (All regions except India)

$100 processing fee if cancelling within two weeks of course start date.

Cancellation / Transfer by Participants (India)

4 Pack + Exam registration: Rs. 10,000 per participant processing fee (to be paid by the participant) if cancelling or transferring the course (4 Pack-CUA/CXA) registration before three weeks from the course start date. No refund or carry forward of the course fees if cancelling or transferring the course registration within three weeks before the course start date.

Individual Modules: Rs. 3,000 per participant ‘per module’ processing fee (to be paid by the participant) if cancelling or transferring the course (any Individual HFI course) registration before three weeks from the course start date. No refund or carry forward of the course fees if cancelling or transferring the course registration within three weeks before the course start date.

Exam: Rs. 3,000 per participant processing fee (to be paid by the participant) if cancelling or transferring the pre agreed CUA/CXA exam date before three weeks from the examination date. No refund or carry forward of the exam fees if requesting/cancelling or transferring the CUA/CXA exam within three weeks before the examination date.

No Recording Permitted

There will be no audio or video recording allowed in class. Students who have any disability that might affect their performance in this class are encouraged to speak with the instructor at the beginning of the class.

Course Materials Copyright

The course and training materials and all other handouts provided by HFI during the course are published, copyrighted works proprietary and owned exclusively by HFI. The course participant does not acquire title nor ownership rights in any of these materials. Further the course participant agrees not to reproduce, modify, and/or convert to electronic format (i.e., softcopy) any of the materials received from or provided by HFI. The materials provided in the class are for the sole use of the class participant. HFI does not provide the materials in electronic format to the participants in public or onsite courses.