An open letter to the User Experience Community

Hello to members of the user experience community, UPA members, and our colleagues around the world.

I've had the opportunity over the past 24 hours to listen to the community as it digests, either here in Las Vegas or around the world, the meaning of our announcement. For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, yesterday at the UPA 2012 conference, UPA treasurer Ronnie Battista announced that the UPA is no longer. We have started a brand new organization, the UXPA, or User Experience Professionals Association. Ronnie spent a great deal of time and effort on that talk, and I want you to be able to experience it. A transcript of that talk is linked here. Please note that this is in raw format and only represents a rough facsimile of the actual talk Ronnie delivered.

While Ronnie's talk certainly introduces the change, you'll find that it is remarkably and intentionally lacking in details. When speaking with our members and leaders of the UX community while considering this change, we realized that while we have been above average in meeting the needs of the UPA community, attempting to support the needs of 50,000+ UX practitioners is a different thing completely. The salient point from Ronnie's talk is this: we want you, the UX community to determine, guide and shepherd this new organization. We launched this change at a conference on Leadership recognizing that we, the current board, are not the people who should determine the direction of the UXPA, or what UXPA is in the first place. It's all of you.

That being said, we do know one thing: there is a distinct and immediate need for a global, modern, innovative professional organization for User Experience Professionals. To those of you tweeting and blogging, ask yourself only one question: Are you a User Experience Professional? If you are, we consider you part of the UXPA. You have a home and a voice here, whether that voice be positive or negative at the current time. In fact, I would implore you to get involved, to help out, to collaborate. Criticize, but put your money where your mouth is, and chip in. We want to work with you. There is plenty of time for discussion, but now is a time for ACTION.

This much is clear: the turf war stops here. It must. We can spend the next ten years arguing which sub-discipline "owns" User Experience, but it won't come to anything. 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.

This is an exciting time for our industry, that is for certain. The future will be determined by those who are willing and able to take bold action. If you are in that group, email me your thoughts at, get involved in our discussions on Twitter or LinkedIn, and let's get to work.

Rich Gunther

President, User Experience Professionals Association