” Everything should be as simple as possible, but no simpler.” Albert Einstein
Wednesday, November 8th is World Usability Day. No it’s not another Hallmark Holiday, you don’t need to rush out and buy a card at the last minute. It may seem somewhat contrived and perhaps even unimportant as you sort through the hundreds of details that demand your attention through the press of the day. But you really do care about this one. Fortunately there are thousands of highly skilled and well trained humans who obsess over ensuring things are easy to use. There is so much stuff in the world that we have to use or we can’t learn, or do our job successfully, or give our children an edge. And most of it is driven in some way by technology.
Indeed it is a world of growing complexity. Our free market system and open society has done an excellent job of giving consumers/citizens lots of choices, while removing some as well. Computer chips are in everything. Software, menus and navigation systems are everywhere from microwaves, to remote controls, to alarm clocks, even your children’s toys. You name it, a user must program and then use it. We all hate having six remotes in the family room just to watch TV or switch to a DVD, but have you ever purchased and tried to program a universal remote? You need to carve out your entire Saturday to get all six of those devices into the one remote. Don’t even ask me how many days you will need to explain it to your spouse. Your kids, now that’s another story. They can just pick it up and start using it.
Kids just have a knack for this stuff. I have a 3 year old that picked up my iPhone and was browsing the photo library and making a call in minutes. Maybe that’s the answer. We should just let the kids design all the user interfaces.
So do what you can to support World Usability Day. If you are a designer, take more time and design it better, if you are a programmer, get out of your cube and talk to that designer and ask, “Who will be using this program?” If you don’t do any of this stuff as a job or hobby, then just use some stuff on November 8th. In fact use everything in your house and car. After all you paid for it.
If you want to know more you can link to the World Usability Site here.