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History of the Usability BoK

The idea for this project grew out of the UPA’s 2001-2002 project to investigate certification for usability professionals, which included a survey of almost 1,000 people on their attitudes towards certification. At the time, UPA decided not to pursue certification.

A workshop held at the UPA 2002 Conference recommended to the UPA Board several prerequisites toward certification, including the definition of a Body of Knowledge. This recommendation placed a BoK in the center of several future activities, including defining a curriculum, identifying roles, creating a self-assessment tool, and, maybe eventually, a certification.

Illustration of the role of the BoK in context of other professional development activities (described above)

The Usability BoK is at the center of other aspects of developing the profession, including a curriculum, role development, a self-assessment tool, and eventually a certification.


A workshop held at the UPA 2004 Conference established a vision and scope for the guide to the body of knowledge, that has resulted in the activities described on this site. The workshop participants agreed that a Usability Body of Knowledge should:

  • Represent a broad consensus regarding the profession itself and the range of knowledge, skills, and methods that should be mastered by practitioners in the field.
  • Will necessarily be broad and inclusive in scope, because our profession is inherently multidisciplinary and draws on a wide range of other practices.

Following that workshop, the BoK Working Group established a framework for subjects that will be included in the future Usability BoK and begun recruiting volunteers for the project.


During the UPA 2005 Conference, the BoK Working Group led a SIG (special interest group meeting) and a poster display (below), in order to discuss the BoK with UPA members and conference attendees. Input from those sessions continues to inform the work of the project team.



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