happy world usability day

Happy World Usability Day!

What the heck does that mean? Well, I'll make it real easy for you, and paste the answer right here, direct from the World Usability Day site:

"Why doesn't this work right? What am I supposed to do with this now?"

World Usability Day, November 14, 2006, is for everyone who's ever asked these questions. This Earth Day style event, focused on raising awareness and visibility of usability engineering and user centered design, is currently being organized by volunteers and local event coordinators from around the world. Whether a usability professional or just an enthusiastic (or frustrated) user, each participant is making a contribution to "making life easy".

World Usability Day 2006 promotes the value of usability engineering and user-centered design and the belief that every user has the responsibility to ask for things that work better.

This actually affects more than just having a DVD player that's easier to program or a can opener with an ergonomic handle. According to the charter, usability affects (or has the power to affect) education, health, government, communication, privacy and security, and entertainment. I really like this charter/manifesto, so I'm going to paste a big chunk of it here (what can I say, I love industrial design):

Technology today is too hard to use. A cell phone should be as easy-to-use as a doorknob. In order to humanize a world that uses technology as an infrastructure for education, healthcare, government, communication, entertainment, work, and other areas, we must agree to develop technologies in a way that serves people first.

Technology should enhance our lives, not add to our stress or cause danger through poor design or poor quality. It is our duty to ensure that this technology is effective, efficient, satisfying and reliable, and that it is usable by all people. This is particularly important for people with disabilities, because technology can enhance their lives, letting them fully participate in work, social and civic experiences.

Human error is a misnomer. Technology should be developed knowing that human beings have certain limitations. Human error will occur if technology is not both easy-to-use and easy-to-understand. We need to reduce human error that results from bad design.

I hope your day went smoothly and was easy to use.

(Coincidentally - or maybe not - ECI just redesigned their website. A small hallelujah is in order.)

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