CUA of the Month – May, 2013

Jennifer Gracey
"The Certified Usability Analysts in our organization is a huge resource of credentialed professionalism that is a strong selling point to our clients."
Jennifer Gracey
Senior Business Consultant/ Senior Certified Usability Analyst

UX Power in the Heartland

by Jim Garrett

Our Certified Usability Analyst of the Month for May, Jennifer Gracey, comes from the international consulting firm Sogeti. Jennifer is based in the Des Moines, Iowa office and is in the unique situation that within her company she is part of a coordinated, international network of HFI Certified Usability Analysts.

Sogeti is one of the world's leading providers of IT consulting services. As a member of the Capgemini Group, one of the world's largest consulting services companies, Sogeti has local branches in twenty-three cities in the U.S. and 20,000 experts worldwide in fifteen countries.

At Sogeti what is your title?

I’m a senior consultant and I focus on the area of user experience. I’m the only HFI Certified Usability Analyst in the Des Moines office, but we have several other consultants who are also usability evangelists. We’re an international company so we have Certified Usability Analysts all over the country and all over the world. We’re a big proponent of the usability aspect and being able to sell that to our clients.

Do you interface with these other Certified Usability Analysts and coordinate with them?

Yes, we have coordinated on some client presentations and some pitches. We also have an online community of Sogeti employees from around the world and we have a group dedicated to usability where we can share resources. Our group is open to everyone, not just CUA’s, but anybody that works as a usability type person that does design, development and is interested in usability. If we find a really good resource, we’ll share it and it brings us all together even though we might be halfway around the world from each other.

What is your primary role with your usability work there?

Usually it’s more as a front end designer designing the user experience. A recent project was a data warehousing project where we were doing a three-year road map for a large company and they had me come on as a business analyst. My usability background really helped with that because I needed to gather a lot of information from many different people and figure out how the people and all of the applications interact with this massive database where years worth of company data is stored.

I was able to gather the requirements and document the current state of this large database and how the users interact with it so the skills that I learned in the HFI courses about interviewing techniques, surveying and gathering information really came in handy on that project.

What current projects are you working on?

The project that I’m on currently is more related to usability and we’re actually having two to three sessions a week to redesign a web application. We’re doing a lot of wireframing, white boarding, and story boarding and capturing the UI requirements. Then we put together wireframes and do task flow analysis to figure out what their current work flow is and what their work flow should be in the future with the new system. We’re going to make it more efficient for the users that own the product. Even though they are not technical people, they will still be able to update the data and utilize the site for years to come to perform their jobs more efficiently.

So what’s your process for making it user friendly for the users?

My process is basically to understand what their current work flow looks like and how they’re currently performing their jobs. Then I interview the users to figure out how we can use technology effectively and efficiently to complete the work flow process. On my current project, the users are doing a lot of their work in spreadsheets and they’re maintaining a massive number of spreadsheets with all of these different policies in them. So it’s good to put it all online and have some business rules around it. With a spreadsheet you don’t have those business rules, so we’re documenting those business rules as we go through the task flow analysis.

What attracted you to UX?

I think the thing that attracted me the most to UX was the ability to be creative yet not pick up a paint brush or be a graphic designer per se but the ability to come up with creative ideas and solutions to problems. The usability issues that people have with websites or applications that make you think outside the box is the the biggest thing that I enjoy. It is the ability to be creative and find solutions.

In your HFI training what was it that stood out for you that seemed to be the most significant?

I would say one of the things that I really took away from the courses was the ability to have the resources on hand. I have some solid research to show why something should be designed a certain way and why it should function a certain way. Then matching the user’s mental model and being able to have the research to back up and say this is what the mental model looks like is so helpful when talking with a client.

HFI has this great little chart I could pull out and it was essentially like an eye tracking chart or a heat map of where users expected the shopping cart to be on an e-commerce website. It also showed where users expected the navigation to be, where they expected the logout button to be, where they expected the most important elements of the page to be placed. Being able to pull out a resource like that and show to your business user that owns that project the research and say this is why we need to design the e-commerce site in this manner makes the creative process so much easier. This is why we need to design the e-commerce site in this manner, because this is what the research tells us that our users are expecting. This type of research is extremely invaluable.

Also being able to negotiate the different climates that you might walk into as a consultant where there might be varying levels of adoption of usability and UX, having that research to back you up goes a long way rather than just “Oh, we should design it like this.”

Is there knowledge from the HFI training you’re applying to your current work and projects?

Definitely! I would say everything new that I learned or existing knowledge that was reinforced in HFI training. After many years of being a web designer making mistakes and learning the hard way how to design things, how not to design, it just reinforced the fact that I’m not the only one that’s made made mistakes in the past and now I can actually say this is a best practice with confidence.

And for your users?

I got some really good feedback from the insurance company that I’m at right now. The users are really enjoying the process because we make it fun. Sometimes I know their brains probably hurt a little bit as we make them think about what-if scenarios. We go over high impact scenarios, what are the main tasks that need to be completed and what if it does this instead of this.

The users have been really excited about it because they’re seeing it come together on white boards and then they’re seeing it come together in wireframes and pretty soon they’ll be seeing an actual working site. So it’s getting them into the design process really early and having them think about their own experience rather than just tell us what they want. We’ll go off and build it and then six weeks later we’ll bring it back and show it to them. It’s a nice way to get them fully engaged in the process early and keep them engaged in the development process so they feel a true sense of ownership when the project is finished. And they’ll feel good knowing they had a hand in helping to design their experience.

Does having your network of CUAs around the world put you on a common ground, a common language to communicate with?

Definitely, we can communicate with our Sogeti online community and send each other messages where we’re all using the same language which is really nice. One of the cool things that HFI puts together is the glossary of the different terms that are used and this is a great resource for any UX person, any designer or developer that works with designing interfaces.

Regardless of whether you got your certification in 2008, or you are working on your certification now, it’s definitely bringing us all to a different level. It’s also a great thing that we can sell to our clients that we do have a base of UX talent. Essentially we can bring talent from anywhere in the United States or even overseas to work on a client project. We can definitely boast that we have Certified Usability Analysts in our organization, which is a huge resource of credentialed professionalism that is a strong selling point to our clients.

CUA of the Month

Each month we highlight the successes and achievements of a different member of our CUA community. If you are a Certified Usability Analyst and would like to be considered for CUA of the Month recognition, please send a brief professional bio to

Privacy policy

Reviewed: 18 Mar 2014

This Privacy Policy governs the manner in which Human Factors International, Inc., an Iowa corporation ("HFI") collects, uses, maintains and discloses information collected from users (each, a "User") of its website and any derivative or affiliated websites on which this Privacy Policy is posted (collectively, the "Website"). HFI reserves the right, at its discretion, to change, modify, add or remove portions of this Privacy Policy at any time by posting such changes to this page. You understand that you have the affirmative obligation to check this Privacy Policy periodically for changes, and you hereby agree to periodically review this Privacy Policy for such changes. The continued use of the Website following the posting of changes to this Privacy Policy constitutes an acceptance of those changes.


HFI may use "cookies" or "web beacons" to track how Users use the Website. A cookie is a piece of software that a web server can store on Users’ PCs and use to identify Users should they visit the Website again. Users may adjust their web browser software if they do not wish to accept cookies. To withdraw your consent after accepting a cookie, delete the cookie from your computer.


HFI believes that every User should know how it utilizes the information collected from Users. The Website is not directed at children under 13 years of age, and HFI does not knowingly collect personally identifiable information from children under 13 years of age online. Please note that the Website may contain links to other websites. These linked sites may not be operated or controlled by HFI. HFI is not responsible for the privacy practices of these or any other websites, and you access these websites entirely at your own risk. HFI recommends that you review the privacy practices of any other websites that you choose to visit.

HFI is based, and this website is hosted, in the United States of America. If User is from the European Union or other regions of the world with laws governing data collection and use that may differ from U.S. law and User is registering an account on the Website, visiting the Website, purchasing products or services from HFI or the Website, or otherwise using the Website, please note that any personally identifiable information that User provides to HFI will be transferred to the United States. Any such personally identifiable information provided will be processed and stored in the United States by HFI or a service provider acting on its behalf. By providing your personally identifiable information, User hereby specifically and expressly consents to such transfer and processing and the uses and disclosures set forth herein.

In the course of its business, HFI may perform expert reviews, usability testing, and other consulting work where personal privacy is a concern. HFI believes in the importance of protecting personal information, and may use measures to provide this protection, including, but not limited to, using consent forms for participants or "dummy" test data.

The Information HFI Collects

Users browsing the Website without registering an account or affirmatively providing personally identifiable information to HFI do so anonymously. Otherwise, HFI may collect personally identifiable information from Users in a variety of ways. Personally identifiable information may include, without limitation, (i)contact data (such as a User’s name, mailing and e-mail addresses, and phone number); (ii)demographic data (such as a User’s zip code, age and income); (iii) financial information collected to process purchases made from HFI via the Website or otherwise (such as credit card, debit card or other payment information); (iv) other information requested during the account registration process; and (v) other information requested by our service vendors in order to provide their services. If a User communicates with HFI by e-mail or otherwise, posts messages to any forums, completes online forms, surveys or entries or otherwise interacts with or uses the features on the Website, any information provided in such communications may be collected by HFI. HFI may also collect information about how Users use the Website, for example, by tracking the number of unique views received by the pages of the Website, or the domains and IP addresses from which Users originate. While not all of the information that HFI collects from Users is personally identifiable, it may be associated with personally identifiable information that Users provide HFI through the Website or otherwise. HFI may provide ways that the User can opt out of receiving certain information from HFI. If the User opts out of certain services, User information may still be collected for those services to which the User elects to subscribe. For those elected services, this Privacy Policy will apply.

How HFI Uses Information

HFI may use personally identifiable information collected through the Website for the specific purposes for which the information was collected, to process purchases and sales of products or services offered via the Website if any, to contact Users regarding products and services offered by HFI, its parent, subsidiary and other related companies in order to otherwise to enhance Users’ experience with HFI. HFI may also use information collected through the Website for research regarding the effectiveness of the Website and the business planning, marketing, advertising and sales efforts of HFI. HFI does not sell any User information under any circumstances.

Disclosure of Information

HFI may disclose personally identifiable information collected from Users to its parent, subsidiary and other related companies to use the information for the purposes outlined above, as necessary to provide the services offered by HFI and to provide the Website itself, and for the specific purposes for which the information was collected. HFI may disclose personally identifiable information at the request of law enforcement or governmental agencies or in response to subpoenas, court orders or other legal process, to establish, protect or exercise HFI’s legal or other rights or to defend against a legal claim or as otherwise required or allowed by law. HFI may disclose personally identifiable information in order to protect the rights, property or safety of a User or any other person. HFI may disclose personally identifiable information to investigate or prevent a violation by User of any contractual or other relationship with HFI or the perpetration of any illegal or harmful activity. HFI may also disclose aggregate, anonymous data based on information collected from Users to investors and potential partners. Finally, HFI may disclose or transfer personally identifiable information collected from Users in connection with or in contemplation of a sale of its assets or business or a merger, consolidation or other reorganization of its business.

Personal Information as Provided by User

If a User includes such User’s personally identifiable information as part of the User posting to the Website, such information may be made available to any parties using the Website. HFI does not edit or otherwise remove such information from User information before it is posted on the Website. If a User does not wish to have such User’s personally identifiable information made available in this manner, such User must remove any such information before posting. HFI is not liable for any damages caused or incurred due to personally identifiable information made available in the foregoing manners. For example, a User posts on an HFI-administered forum would be considered Personal Information as provided by User and subject to the terms of this section.

Security of Information

Information about Users that is maintained on HFI’s systems or those of its service providers is protected using industry standard security measures. However, no security measures are perfect or impenetrable, and HFI cannot guarantee that the information submitted to, maintained on or transmitted from its systems will be completely secure. HFI is not responsible for the circumvention of any privacy settings or security measures relating to the Website by any Users or third parties.

Correcting, Updating, Accessing or Removing Personal Information

If a User’s personally identifiable information changes, or if a User no longer desires to receive non-account specific information from HFI, HFI will endeavor to provide a way to correct, update and/or remove that User’s previously-provided personal data. This can be done by emailing a request to HFI at Additionally, you may request access to the personally identifiable information as collected by HFI by sending a request to HFI as set forth above. Please note that in certain circumstances, HFI may not be able to completely remove a User’s information from its systems. For example, HFI may retain a User’s personal information for legitimate business purposes, if it may be necessary to prevent fraud or future abuse, for account recovery purposes, if required by law or as retained in HFI’s data backup systems or cached or archived pages. All retained personally identifiable information will continue to be subject to the terms of the Privacy Policy to which the User has previously agreed.

Contacting HFI

If you have any questions or comments about this Privacy Policy, you may contact HFI via any of the following methods:
Human Factors International, Inc.
PO Box 2020
1680 highway 1, STE 3600
Fairfield IA 52556
(800) 242-4480

Terms and Conditions for Public Training Courses

Reviewed: 18 Mar 2014

Cancellation of Course by HFI

HFI reserves the right to cancel any course up to 14 (fourteen) days prior to the first day of the course. Registrants will be promptly notified and will receive a full refund or be transferred to the equivalent class of their choice within a 12-month period. HFI is not responsible for travel expenses or any costs that may be incurred as a result of cancellations.

Cancellation of Course by Participants (All regions except India)

$100 processing fee if cancelling within two weeks of course start date.

Cancellation / Transfer by Participants (India)

4 Pack + Exam registration: Rs. 10,000 per participant processing fee (to be paid by the participant) if cancelling or transferring the course (4 Pack-CUA/CXA) registration before three weeks from the course start date. No refund or carry forward of the course fees if cancelling or transferring the course registration within three weeks before the course start date.

Cancellation / Transfer by Participants (Online Courses)

$100 processing fee if cancelling within two weeks of course start date. No cancellations or refunds less than two weeks prior to the first course start date.

Individual Modules: Rs. 3,000 per participant ‘per module’ processing fee (to be paid by the participant) if cancelling or transferring the course (any Individual HFI course) registration before three weeks from the course start date. No refund or carry forward of the course fees if cancelling or transferring the course registration within three weeks before the course start date.

Exam: Rs. 3,000 per participant processing fee (to be paid by the participant) if cancelling or transferring the pre agreed CUA/CXA exam date before three weeks from the examination date. No refund or carry forward of the exam fees if requesting/cancelling or transferring the CUA/CXA exam within three weeks before the examination date.

No Recording Permitted

There will be no audio or video recording allowed in class. Students who have any disability that might affect their performance in this class are encouraged to speak with the instructor at the beginning of the class.

Course Materials Copyright

The course and training materials and all other handouts provided by HFI during the course are published, copyrighted works proprietary and owned exclusively by HFI. The course participant does not acquire title nor ownership rights in any of these materials. Further the course participant agrees not to reproduce, modify, and/or convert to electronic format (i.e., softcopy) any of the materials received from or provided by HFI. The materials provided in the class are for the sole use of the class participant. HFI does not provide the materials in electronic format to the participants in public or onsite courses.