Today is World Usability Day, an international celebration marked by 144 different events in more than 43 countries. This year’s theme, “Making life easy!”, is focused on creating awareness for designs, products, and services that improve and facilitate communications.
In celebrating this event, it’s a good time to sit back and reflect on how our experience with software applications has changed over the years. Years ago, software was focused on features and capabilities -the more an application did, the better it was. The role of the user was to learn now to work within the constraints of an application. There were guides, training sessions and thick manuals for each application a user needed to master. If a user needed help, he could always hit F1 and filter through reams of text-based content to figure it out.
Today many applications have evolved to better address the needs of users. Developers consider usability throughout the design process and the well-designed applications out there are built from the perspective of the users, fueled by real-life user stories. Advances in user interface design enable us to better guide the user and to provide more contextual and relevant help.
However, even with these improvements to usability, it’s important to note that usability is only part of the equation. In our ever connected world, the total experience of the user, from initial contact through to customer support, is what’s important. Organizations should focus on delivering well-designed, usable products, but they cannot forget that a usable product still won’t be a success unless the total experience around it is great.
For more information about World Usability Day the variety of events around it, visit: http://www.worldusabilityday.org/