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Certified Usability Analyst of the Month, December 2012, Asea Ginsburg

Asea Ginsburg

Principal, Creative Director
Arigam Strategies

User Centered Design as a Business Model

by Jim Garrett

When Asea Ginsburg started her own consulting firm, she wanted to put usability at the core of all the services the company was offering. That company, Arigam Strategies, specializes in design and web development. It serves customers in government agencies, associations, commercial entities, and the non-profit sector.

Asea’s career path began in computer science, which inspired her to go into web design and development. After working in the web industry for several years, she pursued a second degree in graphic design, where she studied print design and traditional marketing. Asea then expanded into being a front end web developer and designer and went on to study traditional graphic design and marketing.

In her career, she has been everything from production artist, front-end developer, Drupal themer, to creative director. With all of that, along with being a user experience professional, Asea has a grasp of all aspects of the creative process, development, and user experience.

At what point did you become interested in usability?

“I have always been curious about how people interact with an interface and whether or not what we design is actually helping users to perform their tasks. So my interest in usability stems from my desire to know what works and what doesn’t — why it doesn’t work and how we can make it better.

“I have been in this business for over a decade, but about 7 years ago I had to do my first set of wireframes. I remember making certain decisions based more on best practices and quantitative data, and less on qualitative testing. Since then, I’ve had my hands in everything: designing usability tests, creating site maps, building high fidelity prototypes, and performing small usability tests.

“My role has always been to educate clients as well as internal and external teams about the importance of designing for the user. But, the conversation would always lead to: ‘Why do we have to make that design change? What does it mean?’ No matter what the reason was, the answer would always come down to usability somehow,” said Asea.

How did you get connected to HFI CUA training?

“I have been fortunate enough to work for companies that valued usability and understood its importance. At a previous job, my boss asked me if I was interested in taking HFI training. I looked at the website and decided to take CUA classes, thinking they would help me grow usability as a practice at our company.

“As I was brainstorming ideas for a path to take in starting my own business, and even as an independent professional, the one element that was never in question was usability.

“In the last several years, I have noticed that large organizations, non-profits, tradeshows, and even commercial businesses all started to realize the importance of usability. Larger organizations that have the budget would implement a user-centered design approach.

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