Carol M. Barnum, PhD, became a usability advocate in the early 1990s. It happened when she heard the word “usability” at a Society for Technical Communication conference. Technical communicators have always seen themselves as the user’s advocate, but here was an emerging discipline that championed the cause of the user!
It was love at first sight.
In 1993, Carol attended the second Usability Professionals Association Conference, where she was thrilled to mix and mingle with several hundred usability folks on Microsoft’s corporate campus. Those two conferences sparked a desire to combine her love of teaching students how to be clear communicators with a new-found passion for helping companies understand how to promote good communication between their product and their users.
In 1994, Carol opened her first usability lab in a windowless basement location at Kennesaw State University (formerly Southern Polytechnic State University). Throughout her teaching career, she built several more labs, developed a course in usability testing, developed a graduate program in Information Design and Communication, and worked with numerous clients to help them unlock the users’ experience with software, hardware, documentation and training products, mobile devices, web applications, websites, apps, and more.
Not one to retire, she left her teaching career in 2013 at the rank of Professor Emeritus to become a fulltime UX consultant, trainer, and speaker. She has traveled the world speaking at conferences and training UX practitioners and students. Recognition for her speaking includes the Presentation Prize at the first European Usability Professionals Association Conference and top ratings at UXPA, STC, and IEEE’s Professional Communication conferences.
Carol is the author of five other books and more than 50 articles and book chapters covering a variety of topics, including the state of UX research, UX reporting styles, the impact of Agile on usability testing, the “Magic Number 5” and whether it is enough for web testing, using Microsoft’s product reaction cards for insights into the desirability factor in user experience, storytelling for user experience, and issues affecting international/intercultural communication and design.
Carol’s work has brought recognition from the Society for Technical Communication, including the designation of Fellow, the Rainey Award for Research, and the Gould Award for Excellence in Teaching Technical Communication. She also received the Blicq Award for Distinction
in Technical Communication Education from the IEEE Professional Communication Society.
Above all else, Carol continues to love helping others improve user experience in all aspects of their life.
To keep up with Carol’s activities or contact her with a question, visit her website at https://www.carolbarnum.com
Affiliations and Expertise
Director and Co-founder, Usability Center, Southern Polytechnic, Graduate Program Director for MS in Information Design and Communication Program