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In an open letter to the User Experience Community, Rich Gunther, President of what used to be called Usability Professionals Association (UPA), announces that UPA is no longer.

As explained yesterday at the UPA 2012 conference by UPA treasurer Ronnie Battista, there is now a brand new organization, the UXPA, or User Experience Professionals Association, because, they say, “there is a distinct and immediate need for a global, modern, innovative professional organization for User Experience Professionals.”

“The name change comes amidst an ongoing rebranding and reinvention of the organization, which comprises over 10,000 international and local professionals in 40 countries. “While we historically have focused on evaluation of products and services, mainly usability testing and expert review of products, we are seeing increased interest from our members in upfront field and ethnographic research, as well as design methods and theory. Furthermore, many of our members are increasingly involved in User Experience Strategy. Our new organizational model allows us to deliver content on all four of these pillars: Research, Design, Evaluation, and Strategy,”, said Carol Smith, UXPA Vice President.

As UXPA goes through this evolution, they also hope to continue delivering compelling benefits to their members. To that end, they are developing a new website, expanding their conference and professional development offerings, and offering a variety of Special Interest Groups in areas ranging from Healthcare to eGovernment User Experience. The organization’s quarterly magazine, “UX Magazine”, will now also be offered in an online format. “Our members value the social, professional network that UXPA provides, as well as the professional development and educational opportunities. We intend to use the website and our events as a conduit for these things,” said Amy Kidd, UXPA Director of Events. Cory Lebson, UXPA Director of Strategic Partnerships, noted that “We are hoping to use this name change as a way to reach out to, and more closely align with, other like-minded organizations.”

The UXPA operates chapters in a number of cities and countries around the world. A number of these chapters will also be undergoing rebranding and alignment with the new international body.”

Important to underline also is that Rich Gunther does not want this initiative to be seen as a turf war or power grab:

“I call on my counterparts in all other UX-related professional organizations to look at ways we can work together. This is not a power play or land grab. With humility and respect, I would entertain any and all discussions about collaboration, integration, and investment with our colleagues from IxDA, ACM-SIGCHI, AIGA, IAI/ASIS&T, STC, HFES, British HCI, APCHI, the Service Design Network, and any others. Between these groups and the current talented and passionate membership of UPA, together we will truly be the premier global professional association supporting people who work in this field. A field that we cannot define alone. We envision a loose confederation of organizations that doesn’t ‘unite’ us so much as it connects us. For our part, we will invest the reserves we have built up to move this mission forward.”

We at Experientia definitely applaud this new initiative, both conceptually (from usability to UX) and practically (it will make our field stronger and more powerful).