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Tag Archives: south africa

Internationally, User Experience is a hot topic in terms of web development. Sleepy South Africa is only just awakening to the UX day.  (Maybe that’s just my perspective, since I started learning about User Experience Design within the last 3 years after picking up a copy of Don’t Make Me Think.  I’m more aware of it now.)

My perspective is also that SA is ripe for UX pickings.  Only a few South Africans have the capability and experience to promote UX services in our Software Development Industry.  I wonder why that is?

It could be a facet of ignorance – Not many companies know about the benefits of User Experience Design.
It could also be about arrogance –  Many companies think that Usability doesn’t need to be tested.  That their design work is perfect.
It could also be about perceived costs – It’s seen as an unnecessary cost on an already expensive software project.

User testing is a humbling process and needn’t be expensive.  The initial cost is an investment. The outcomes of a User Test promote better software, acceptable software.  All that’s left is our ignorance.


How can I educate myself in UX matters?

University-related Training opportunities in Usability and HCI are quite limited locally.  UNISAs B.Sc curriculum in Information Technology only offers 2 modules over the course of 3 years.  UCT are doing HCI research in their Faculty of Science, but I don’t see any mention of courses tailored to User Experience.

Human Factors International (with a branch in Pretoria) offer a set of very short certificate courses, they’re niche but decidedly expensive.

If your time and budget are restrictive, you could always resort to reading the relevant books. I recommend:


Is there a local community?

It took a Bright Boy from Johannesburg to start the SA UX Forum which is open to anyone with an interest in UX.  Since its inception in April 2007 its member base has expanded to 95 souls.

More recently, we’ve had GeekDinner-style Meet-ups to create awareness and network.  (The next Cape Town meetup is scheduled for the 20th of August, why not pop by?)  The meet-ups have proved a great opportunity for learning and meeting those with similar experiences.


Who can guide us?

Well, Phil Barrett is one. Director of Flow Interactive and general User Experience Guru who emigrated to South Africa last year or so.  Phil has been the proverbial awareness gypsy, presenting numerous talks at StarCamp, 27 Dinners and Heavy Chef cookups.  Now Phil is central to the Cape Town happenings of the SA UX forum.

He’s the sorta guy that would gladly visit your office and give a presentation on User Experience Design and explain why it’s so important for any software development project.


Where to now?

Beyond the likes of Phil and Jason Hobbs in Johannesburg, it’s up to us.

Talk about it, ask questions.  Mingle with the right folks. Promote UXD within your company.