World Usability Day celebrates and encourages simpler technology

On November 10, more than 200 events in dozens of nations will be held in honor of World Usability Day. More than a holiday, it's a movement to design products and services that are easier to use.
Written by Reena Jana, Contributor
These elevator buttons, designed with clear and simple graphics, are easy for anyone to use.

If you're ever frustrated by baroque instructions in device manuals, you'll understand the rationale behind World Usability Day. It falls on the second Thursday of November each year, which happens to be November 10. And it celebrates--and encourages--the act of designing services and products that are easily accessible and simple to use for all people, regardless of literacy level or physical challenges.

Founded by the Usability Professionals' Association, World Usability Day encourages companies, firms, non-profits, and educators to host gatherings that will help spread awareness of "usability" as a concept and a design discipline. Some organizations also host panels and other sessions to help train designers and researchers in the field on World Usability Day. Around 200 events have been organized in more than 40 nations around the world, from Colombia to the United States, from Iran to Singapore.

In New York, for instance, business and financial news provider Bloomberg is sponsoring a panel on "Education: Design for Social Change" at its headquarters on November 10, with 326 attendees registered. Featured speakers include Asi Burak, co-president of Games for Change, an organization that supports video games for social change, and Michelle Mullineaux, co-founder of Designyc, a non-profit that strives to improve in New York City via "good design." In Geneva, Switzerland, Telono, a Swiss user-experience consultancy, is hosting a series of presentations, ranging from examining how illiterate people use mobile phones to the production of user-centered video games. In Kigali, Rwanda, a conference on the topic "Usability as a pillar of product success" is scheduled to  take place. In Singapore, The Design and Technology Educators Society will share their research and experiences in testing products for usability.

But World Usability Day doesn't end when the clock strikes midnight on November 11. The organizers behind it have a written a charter that they hope will gain attention year-round among.

"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," the charter states. Ideally, participants in World Usability Day--and designers, engineers, and business and government leaders in general--will not only sign the document, but also practice its ideals as well.

Image: Dave Shea/Flickr

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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