October 24, 2007

Here’s Hoping Usability Becomes Institutionalized within ALA

I know a lot of folks (staff and mem­bers included) have been scream­ing from the rooftops for this, wait­ing impa­tiently. But today it finally hap­pened. We’re try­ing to turn the cruise ship — come join me on the ledo deck!

Senior Usabil­ity Officer

Respon­si­bil­i­ties: The Amer­i­can Library Asso­ci­a­tion (ALA), a large, information-based pro­fes­sional orga­ni­za­tion seeks a Senior Usabil­ity Offi­cer (SUO). This posi­tion in its key role will sup­port 65,000 mem­bers and non-member in the orga­ni­za­tions’ ini­tia­tive to recast its grow­ing Web­site with user-centered web design prin­ci­ples. The poten­tial can­di­date will have exten­sive first hand expe­ri­ence design­ing and run­ning usabil­ity tests, acces­si­bil­ity reviews/audits, and deter­min­ing web­site trends. In addi­tion, must have expe­ri­ence with other method­olo­gies such as expert walk­throughs, defin­ing stake­holder require­ments, task analy­sis, wire­fram­ing, pro­to­typ­ing and card sort­ing. Excel­lent com­mu­ni­ca­tion and peo­ple skills with the abil­ity to com­mu­ni­cate with non-technical indi­vid­u­als are a must in this highly vis­i­ble posi­tion. The SUO must be flex­i­ble and able to incor­po­rate user-centered design prin­ci­ples to online inter­faces while remain­ing respon­sive and open to the diverse and shift­ing needs of a com­plex orga­ni­za­tion. The abil­ity to work in a team envi­ron­ment and between two uni­verses of Infor­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy and Librar­i­an­ship is essen­tial in order to main­tain an outcome-oriented, global vision.

Require­ments: Master’s degree in Human-Computer Inter­ac­tion (HCI) or a related field with a min­i­mum of five years expe­ri­ence in design­ing and con­duct­ing usabil­ity tests and mak­ing rec­om­men­da­tions to effect changes. Must have knowl­edge of web site design, web-based usabil­ity stan­dards, web-based acces­si­bil­ity stan­dards and industry-acknowledged best prac­tices. This indi­vid­ual must be able to work in a fast-paced envi­ron­ment and man­age mul­ti­ple projects simul­ta­ne­ously. Salary is nego­tiable from $75,000. ALA has an excel­lent medical/dental pack­age, vaca­tion and retire­ment annu­ity. Clos­ing Date: Review of appli­ca­tions will begin Decem­ber 1, 2007 and con­tinue until the posi­tion is filled. For con­sid­er­a­tion send a let­ter of appli­ca­tion and resume to the Amer­i­can Library Asso­ci­a­tion, Human Resources Depart­ment, SUO/IT, 50 East Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611; fax: 312.280‑5270, email: cvivian@ala.org.

Salary Range: Nego­tiable from $75,000
Exempt/Non-Exempt: Exempt”

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5:08 pm Comments (7)

7 Comments »

  1. I feel sorry for who­ever lands this posi­tion. The ALA web­site is a smor­gas­board of bad design choices and clunky inter­faces, built on a CMS that was still incom­pre­hen­si­ble to me after 3 hours of train­ing (and I’m a web devel­oper!). In short, it looks like a headache I wouldn’t wish on any­body. On the other hand, it’s some­thing ALA des­per­ately needs. Put another zero on that salary.

    Comment by Nick Baker — October 24, 2007 @ 6:25 pm

  2. *sigh*. your title had me think­ing that the job was to make ala more usable — but it’s only for the web­site. if yer being funny, i like it.

    Comment by ignorance — October 24, 2007 @ 11:41 pm

  3. @Nick: I under­stand what you’re say­ing, but it’s a los­ing propo­si­tion if we say ALA des­per­ately needs this type of help and then are cyn­i­cal when they go for it, so I was glad to see how you ended your com­ment. I’m try­ing to do a post on the ITTS Update blog about the lat­est wire­frames, which I see as a very pos­i­tive step for the non-division/unit pages.

    I wish we were using a dif­fer­ent CMS, too, but now we’re in the mak­ing lemon­ade phase. My per­sonal hope is that we’ll see more usable online ser­vices over­all, since a lot of the things we’re doing are now hap­pen­ing out­side of the CMS anyway.

    @iggy: I hear ya, but no one per­son could do that. One of the things I’m learn­ing is that the kind of change I think you’re refer­ring to really has to come from mem­bers. Staff can change pieces of it, but they can’t change the bylaws or struc­ture of the Association.

    Comment by jenny — October 25, 2007 @ 5:53 am

  4. com­ment

    Comment by Denise — October 26, 2007 @ 7:32 am

  5. I com­pletely agree with Jenny. This work should be done and soon. ALA should be mod­el­ling best prac­tices in web usabil­ity instead of being an exam­ple of “what not to do.”

    How­ever, I find it dis­turb­ing that ALA is not hir­ing a Librar­ian to do this work. Just goes to show that our orga­ni­za­tion is clue­less about what we really do every­day. What about those librar­i­ans
    who have advanced degrees and cer­tifi­cates in this area or have killed them­selves learn­ing about this area out of sim­ple pas­sion to serve our patrons well from the web?

    I wish I wouldn’t have paid my dues this year. Its a big drag to be a part of an orga­ni­za­tion that doesn’t take care of its own.

    Say, here’s an idea. Hire a librar­ian for this gig. The salary would be a lot lower.

    Comment by Denise — October 26, 2007 @ 7:37 am

  6. Denise — why would the salary be lower for a librar­ian? I wouldn’t take a cent less to do that job.

    Comment by Emily C — October 26, 2007 @ 8:33 am

  7. @Denise: It’s not that we wouldn’t hire a librar­ian, it’s that we want some­one with demon­strated learn­ing in this area. Unfor­tu­nately, the orig­i­nal job ad didn’t reflect this, so we just today added “or other related field” to the HCI require­ment. So if you have an MLS or an MLIS and the right blend of expe­ri­ence, vision, and um…strength, go for it. We’re not exclud­ing *any­body.* We’re going for the best per­son for the job, not the degree or just a name.

    So yes, we would hire a librar­ian, and no, we’re not going to lower the salary. ;-)

    Comment by jenny — October 26, 2007 @ 1:50 pm

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