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2nd Annual World Usability Day on Nov. 14th Seeks to "Make Life Easy"
For release: Nov. 10, 2006
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Events in 135 cities in more than 35 countries on Nov. 14th focus on accessibility and making things work better

 BOSTON – On Tuesday, November 14, in towns and cities around the world, life will be a little easier.  That is the goal of World Usability Day, an initiative of the Usability Professionals’ Association (UPA), as it kicks off its second annual global series of events on the benefits of usability engineering and user-centered design.  This year’s theme is “Making Life Easy.”

 The events – more than 135 in 35 countries – will demonstrate that the things we interact with and experience every day can work better. Crossing cultural boundaries and bringing together people from cities like New York City and London and from far-reaching regions like the Philippines, Iceland, Paraguay, and New Zealand, the events will be hosted by thousands of individuals and volunteers from corporations, organizations, universities and will focus on accessibility and inclusion.

 In Memphis, the Center for Multimedia Arts (CMA) at the University of Memphis is hosting an online introduction to usability and a contest giveaway in honor of World Usability Day (www.cmamemphis.com).  CMA Director Michael Schmidt said the CMA “works from a user-centered approach on all of its projects; we design a lot of multimedia, from medical to museum interfaces, but really, people are our mission.” 

 As a CMA partner, the Center for Rhetoric and Applied Communication specializes in the usability of communication.  Explained Dr. Loel Kim, professor of English, “With increasing reliance on technology, the visual-verbal message is inseparable from the interface. Usability is a rhetorical methodology for creating and measuring effectiveness.”

 The CMA is currently working on a communication tool for parents with physicians at St. Jude Children’s Hospital.  The project has involved design of animations, graphics, and written material that is presented to parents on a small handheld personal digital assistant (PDA).  Kristin Mudd, MFA candidate in Graphic Design at the UofM, said, “Good usability should be invisible. In an undergrad Web design course, we learned that critically assessing the underlying architecture of the Web site was important to enabling people to find what they want quickly.”

 Sarah Craig, MA student in English in the Professional Writing program, concurred. “I have broadened my view of writing and communication through my coursework and internship experiences,” she said, “for example, conducting usability tests on exciting research projects like the FedEx Institute of Technology’s Intelligent Kiosk.”

 According to World Usability Day founder and director Elizabeth Rosenzweig, World Usability Day 2005 was a tremendous success.  "Usability affects everyone everyday,” said Rosenzweig. “From the tools we use to teach our children, to our hospital emergency rooms, to the telephones we use to communicate, it’s a part of our daily lives, and it's important to recognize we all have the right to have things that work better.”

 In its first year, the UPA and its partners coordinated 115 events in 35 countries over a 36 hour period.  More than 10,000 people – including usability professionals and individuals – participated in local events and thousands more took part online.  Some of the highlights from the first World Usability Day included:

School children at the Museum of Science in Boston were introduced to usability through a hands-on experiment to determine which clocks – ranging from analog to digital, feature-rich to simple – were the easiest to use.

An online contest in Spain of usable and not-usable objects and Web sites was created and resulted in an ongoing online gallery.

In Hyderabad, India, a unique cartoon contest was organized that demonstrated the storytelling power of pictures. This contest drew 250 entries from at least eight different countries.

500 Faulkner University students in Montgomery, Ala., watched a demonstration of the principles of usability done in the style of the "Props" segment of the television show "Whose Line is it  Anyway".

 In this, its second year, World Usability Day will be even more accessible with twice the number of Web-based events and more than 15,000 people expected to attend a larger number of in-person events around the world. In addition to seeing how usability can make life easier, participants will be invited to sign the World Usability Day Charter, available on the Website at www.worldusabilityday.org.  The charter is a declaration of purpose and a commitment to working to improve technology products and services in all arenas, from education, healthcare, government, security to communication.

 This year’s sponsors include:  Apogee, Different, Human Factors International, Intuit, Noldus, Oracle, SAP, Techsmith, Usability, and Weber Shandwick Worldwide.  Our supporting organizations are: HFES, SIGCHI, STC and UXnet. 

 For more information and a complete list of World Usability Events and Webcasts, visit the Web at: www.worldusabilityday.org, or contact: Caryn Saitz, World Usability Day, by phone at 617-905-5691 or via email at:  caryn@worldusabilityday.org.

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