I recently worked with a Fortune 200 company spec'ing work on an application for an important group of internal users. Not too long ago they had converted some of their mainframe/green screen applications to browser-based apps, but not for the right reasons and without much success. No one inside the company has interface design expertise. In fact, they barely know such an expertise exists.
I don't say this to ridicule them, up to now they haven't needed such expertise or may not even be unusual among their corporate peers. But it woke me to the reality of how separate our design community is from the people who would benefit most from our services (not to mention having the money to pay for it).
While efforts like Boxes and Arrows and the IAWiki have attracted top notch ideas and attempt to avoid or explain jargon, they don't go far enough for those who as yet have no exposure at all to our field.
From that perspective I feel like all our blogs and community building amounts to navel gazing. We'd have a higher profile and grow larger in numbers if more of the unconverted were converted. We need to infiltrate these groups and educate them.
This will be difficult. And it won't pump up our egos like receiving kudos from peers in our smaller community. But delving into unfamiliar territory - territory filled with terms like ERP, proximity badges, and storage area networks - could give us a feel for how it feels for them to hear wireframe, controlled vocabulary, and persona. They are our users, and this is how we begin to understand them.
Communicating could be as easy as getting published in their journals. Information Week, eWeek, CIO, Baseline. Lou Rosenfeld has done it, but we need more. Hell, it might be easy to write introductory articles for this audience, and make you a few bucks too.