Certifying Usability Analysts in Web Design and Other Skills


Human Factors International, Inc. (HFI) specializes in user-centered design. The company provides consulting services, software and other products as well as training and certification-- all aimed at helping clients understand the principles of creating intuitive, easy-to-use Web sites and applications.

HFI’s two-year certification program for HFI-Certified Usability Analysts includes courses in user-centered analysis and conceptual design; the science and art of effective Web and application design; practical usability testing and putting research into practice.

Essentials of User-centered Design

With clients ranging from marketing departments and designers to business analysts and executives, Human Factors needed a practical way to test Certified Usability Analyst candidates all over the world. The company decided to have Questionmark host their certification exam, which candidates may take either after completing instructor-led HFI courses or studying on their own.

HFI Training Operations Manager Judy Neubauer cites the growing importance of designing interfaces from the end user’s perspective and giving people the opportunity to demonstrate their mastery of the fundamental principles involved.

“We teach research-based principles for doing these and help prepare usability analysts to perform data gathering, task analysis and usability testing,” says Neubauer. “These are essential skills for being successful at user-centered design.”

Certification Exams Built from Item Banks

Questionmark exams help candidates prove that they understand key principles and skills. Upon successful completion of the exam, HFI-Certified Usability Analysts receive an authenticated certification diploma. Candidates who do not pass the exam may retake it once more within six months at no additional cost.

“There are 100 multiple choice questions on the test, divided into four subject areas,” explains Neubauer. “We have a separate question bank for each of the four sections of the exam so each person’s exam is unique. Candidates must answer 70 of the questions overall correctly in order receive certification. Using the Question Statistics feature has been useful in reviewing the pass/fail rate per question and per section to make sure we have a uniform level of difficulty.”

Positive Response

“Most people say the exam is very difficult,” Neubauer adds. “The feedback we get is that it’s pretty tough, but on the other hand we get positive feedback on the test’s interface. We chose Questionmark after reviewing a lot of options and deciding it was the most cost-effective way for us to go. We’re very happy with it.”

Building on the success of the current certification program, Human Factors is planning to offer an advanced certification.