World Usability Day is spreading the important idea of making people the focus of technology product- and service-development. This year’s emphasis on healthcare brings the significance of usability closer to home regardless of where you live. Usability can not only improve the quality of life, it can potentially save lives. In matters of our health, having products and services work better is not just nice; it is essential.
Usability is better understood and valued by more people around the world than ever before. In the most developed countries, many people are working to develop technology products and services understand the importance of putting the user at the center that process. In the developing countries, people are starting to do the same, and are holding professional training and conferences in user-centered design. We need to keep pushing our efforts and raising awareness of these important issues around the world.
For me, the most exciting part of World Usability Day was sending a box of event materials to Rwanda. Although they were unable to hold the event on November 8, 2007 they rescheduled it for December, underlining the importance of keeping our efforts ongoing throughout the entire year.
The fact the Rwanda can bring together professionals to raise awareness of usability and unveil their new “Guidelines for Development of Rwanda Government Websites” is to be applauded. I consider our work successful if World Usability Day can bring professional publications and conferences to countries that have not previously had the opportunity to educate their usability professionals.
India also held events earlier in November to accommodate holidays that conflicted with the nominated date. Not only are we breaking ground by having events in developing countries, we are broadening our impact by expanding to events held throughout the year.
In addition to spreading awareness around the world, we must create projects that make a difference for people. One of our efforts is focused on pediatric healthcare. We are joining forces with the USA-based Institute for Pediatric Innovation to explore how focusing on usability can improve healthcare for children. In this way, we hope to improve the experience of the youngest set of healthcare users—the children around the world.
Technology was employed to push the global events to new dimensions when the World Usability Day Plenary Panel session was webcast as a live feed on November 8, and a closing webcast from Seattle included comments from Microsoft’s Bill Gates.
This year’s events achieved my objectives for this current year:
- Create a focus that makes a difference: healthcare
- Plan a project that serves a real need: children and healthcare
- Spread awareness around the world of the importance of putting people first: demonstrated with new events in Rwanda, South Korea, Peru, Mexico, Russia, Germany, Israel, Finland, United States, and Canada, to name a few of the forty countries participating.
- Create year-round activities
Every year we have been able to bring new events, new countries, and new projects under the auspices of World Usability Day. 2007 was the best year so far, engaging thousands of individuals in over 180 cities and forty countries.
I look forward to working with you for November 13, 2008, when our World Usability Day theme is Transportation.