World Usability Day

by Spencer Critchley

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Thursday, Nov 3 is the first World Usability Day, so designated by the Usability Professionals Association. A gimmick? Maybe, but let's face it, making technology serve humans instead of vice versa is a cause that needs all the help it can get.

I still hear way too many technologists (this means you, smarty pants) saying that the whole problem is that customers are stupid.

From a story on the Usability Day site, written by a usability expert who was defeated by his Hummer's $3,000 navigation system (the system is known as "Nat"):

I called the dealership to complain and they explained that I needed to go through a training seminar in order to learn how to use this navigation system... At the time of this writing, I have had this truck now for over a year and still have not used this very-important-to-me-at-time-of-purchase feature. I just sent our office administrator out to my truck to see if she could make sense out of the nav system...

After spending 30 minutes in the truck, driving around town, she came back in with a frustrated look. "They made you pay three grand not to listen to music?" she asked. That's right. Since Nat requires a DVD to be inserted into the CD drive, you can't listen to CDs while driving.

Here's one that's a little more inspiring:

Dutch manufacturers realized that a fly painted on the porcelain of a urinal nearly always became a "target" for men using the facility. And the fly is positioned in precisely the right place for minimal spillage or splashback.

Clever those Dutch!