World Usability Day 2010 Honorary Chairman, John Hockenberry
Amy K. Ballard
Amy is the Project Manager for UPA's World Usability Day event this coming November 11, 2010. Amy is an Account Executive with the association management firm Solutions for Associations, Inc. based in Bloomingdale, IL.
When Communication was announced as the theme for World Usability Day 2010, Elizabeth Rosenzweig, Founder, knew John Hockenberry would be the perfect choice as Honorary Chairman. This year's events and forums will focus on how products and services impact communications. Programs will examine all products and services used in the communication process including: cellular phones, mobile devices, social media, email, video, and perhaps other exciting technologies that may not have hit the mainstream!
An Interview with the Honorary Chairman
In early July, Ms. Rosenzweig, founder and president of World Usability Day (WUD), sat down with John Hockenberry, host of WNYC's The Takeaway and the 2010 Honorary Chair of WUD, in his office at WNYC-FM to talk about the importance of usability.
Elizabeth: What does usability mean; why is it important?
John: Usability is a concept that is both unknown and completely intuitive. I mean we've grown up in this century, and most of the last century, with all of these things, objects that we have to deal with. It used to be a few tools that civilization required, now it's a proliferation of objects and devices that we have to figure out a way to have a relationship with.
I think that the assumption people have is that we'll kind of get to a point where we can use these devices. That we'll read the instruction book and somehow we'll all get better at it. And I think what's increasingly clear, and particularly at the dawn of the 21st century, is that it's not going to happen by itself. It doesn't just happen - there has to be intent on the part of designers to make devices that bear in mind the user in an explicit way – but even more important than that, people have to demand that their devices meet standards of usability.
When I say something like that people go – of course, totally. And that's the intuitive part. But the unknown part is that somehow – and this is a great mystery – humans have allowed themselves to think that technology is supposed to be hard.
But, in fact, when people repeatedly have an experience where it's hard or where it doesn't quite work, you would expect that something would improve. You stumble coming down the stairs and you fix the carpet – but this isn't happening with objects.
Part of Usability Day and the usability charter is to develop specifications and a kind of human manifesto – of what objects need to do to satisfy essential requirements of usability. And it's not just about helping consumers or helping companies sell products better. Now with the digital divide and issues of human rights being related to the availability of technology, these are broad social human questions that involve…you know, the democratic values are as much a part of this century as any high technology WIFI internet is.
World Usability Day was founded in 2005 as an initiative of the UPA to ensure that services and products important to human life are easier to access and simpler to use. Each year, on the second Thursday of November, over 200 events are organized in more than 40 countries around the world to raise awareness for the general public, and to train professionals in the tools and issues central to good usability research, development, and practice.
WUD is about making our world work better. It's about "Making Life Easy" and user friendly. Much of today's technology is too hard to use. A cell phone should be as easy to use as a doorknob. To humanize a world that uses technology as an infrastructure for communication, education, healthcare, transportation, government, entertainment, work and other areas, we must develop these technologies in a way that serves people first.
Let World Usability Day 2010 be your impetus to create greater awareness for designs, products and services that improve the sustainability of our world. Be the one to bring the word to your company and community this year. Join us and get involved in World Usability Day 2010!
Elizabeth Rosenzweig – Founder/Director, email@example.com, +1-617-244-6905
Amy K. Ballard – Project Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org, +1-608-291-2388
Nicole A. Tafoya - Sponsorship, email@example.com, +1-630-980-4997
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