This year my family went out in all directions for Thanksgiving. My husband, Eric, and I went to my Mom and Dad’s for dinner. Not 5 minutes into the meal, Dad asks, “What is it. Again. That you do again?”
My sister, her son and my mom also had “some idea”. Eric took a stab at it. After his elevator speech, my Dad pauses from his turkey to say, “You call it Usability. What is that, exactly.” So I went into my elevator speech that included search engines and search engine optimization. I’m cross skilled, and naturally blend usability and seo practices together in my work and talks.
Whenever I would lose somebody at the table, all I had to do was say a keyword, like “Google” or “Make web sites easy to use.” I even had my electronics engineer Dad spellbound with my description of page rank and why he will see what he does in SERPs. Everyone was impressed that I carved out a nice career, but clearly after nearly 15 years in the biz, my working world has been a huge mystery.
I don’t talk to my family and local friends about what I do. I’m not always “on” that way. I wait until asked. And when that happens, I’ve learned to keep it simple. “User friendly” is something everybody who has ever been on the Internet can relate to. That I work in a career that tries to make the user experience pleasant puts me in a positive light pretty fast. When I bring up accessibility, typically I’ll get glazed looks until I offer examples of why it is needed and if they seem to not care about the humane part, then I tell them that Target was sued for not being accessible. Then I am their hero.
Sis and nephew think my travel is cool. So do some of my closest friends from the SEO industry, who know I not a seasoned traveler and for the first years dragged Eric everywhere I had to go on business. Now, I’m bold enough to go to airports, order shuttles, and check in hotel rooms all by myself. My sister has always been the courageous one. While I was fine with guiding my steed over 4 or 5 foot fences in my riding classes and grooming for the stable’s show equestrians at horse shows, she was the one showing and open jumping with confidence. The ribbons in our horse barn were mostly hers.
This Thanksgiving, I said grace and then we moved around the table to share our thanks. This year, they all know me just a little bit better and when my parents, sis and nephew surf the ‘Net, they know I’m in there.