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Editor’s Note: One Day around the World: Good Signs and Future Challenges

In many countries, newspapers and popular magazines report on the latest products and services to reach the marketplace. In these publications, reporters and reviewers comment on whatever they believe promotes sales, marketplace success, and consumer preference. More so than in years past, however, they talk about user-centered design.

This media focus mirrors corporate interest. Recently, a Microsoft user-experience evangelist contacted me to alert me to Microsoft’s push into human-oriented technology. Also recently, a group of two dozen user-experience managers from leading companies in Japan visited our office during a U.S. tour to study the latest trends. Their own corporate literature featured the company’s efforts in the areas of usability, user experience, interaction design, visual design, and universal design.

These are all good signs. We’ve made progress throughout the world. However, not all manufacturers adhere to this user-centered philosophy. One of our major clients is well known for thinking about user experience for its customers, but we have been hired to help them improve their own internal user experience. Another of our clients, a well-known Japanese name, is just now becoming sensitive to the importance of user experience in the design of its products.

Clearly, there is room for improvement. For this reason, World Usability Day, preeminent among “consciousness-raising” events throughout the world, is vital in improving the general public’s (and business leaders’) awareness of usability and user experience issues. From awareness comes more articulate and effective demand for improved products and services. The net result is better quality. For that achievement, all of us as professionals can be thankful.