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Be Kind To End Users - It's World Usability Day  

:: Wednesday, November 02, 2005 ::

I've always held anyone who comes to me for a usability evaluation of their web site or application in high regard. I think it takes extreme courage to let anyone inspect your hard work. Comments and feedback are vital to success, but nobody wants to hear that their project is a failure or "not good enough".

At Cre8asiteforums, we have the long-running Website Hospital. The rules to post are simple and, surprisingly, the members are very good at offering constructive criticism. They will often be very detailed in their responses. For those who are willing to post their URL and let their website be publicly reviewed, the experience can have positive results. However, you have to swallow your pride and be strong enough to handle any bad news.

A Day to be Kind to End Users

November 3 is World Usability Day. By now, most of you have heard about it. The Usability Professionals Association (UPA) decided to focus attention on making things work properly. It's not just web sites they're concerned with, though it's a big part just because we interact with them so often. Usability gets into the nooks and crannies of everyday life. I still swear, fuss, and fiddle for fifteen minutes every time I have to unwrap a new CD. This, despite being shown a trick by a friend on how to open them up in seconds. Like I was gonna remember that.

Memory is part of usability. That's why navigation is such a pain in the neck to work out and make usable for everybody who will use your web site. There are ads, images, blinking thingy’s distracting your eyes, and your mind is going everywhere at once. Yet, when I tell a web site owner that people have trouble reading a page when there are 10 things happening all at once, they act as though I stole their blankie.

So what is Usability?

There's some great articles and research to be found on the topic of usability. I've learned over time that what I once thought usability was about is really just the tip of the iceberg.

Usability, taken as a whole, is about getting into the heads, and hearts, of someone who will use something. We don't approach things the same way, so the possibilities for how something will be used are endless. Emotion plays a part in usability because people like to feel connected to. Why do you think Google changes its logo so often?

Congratulations, You

Website and software application owners and developers who are open minded and customer service oriented understand the value of usability. You're wise enough to understand that nothing is ever really finished. Creating never ends. The project is never done. There's always something new to learn, and something new to try. There's always the influence of the interactions of others.

The difficult part is knowing what to keep and what to toss out because it doesn't really contribute in a positive or productive way.

Learn more

To get an idea of how important World Usability Day is, take a look at this Hour by hour schedule of events being held around the world. As I write this, we're now 7 hours into the day's celebration.

Happy World Usability Day.

:: posted by Kim Krause Berg on 11/02/2005 06:57:00 PM

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