World Usability Day – Engaging Users in the Design Process

The user is NOT a lower life form –  Ken Becker

This is not, but could be, the theme of World Usability Day celebrated this year on Thursday, November 13. It’s a day to gather communities of professional, industrial, educational, citizen and government groups, all focused on a common mission to ensure that the services and products important to life are easier to access and simpler to use. Theme of this year’s celebration is “engagement,” with emphasis on engaging users in design of usable products and services.

There are at least two Twin Cities are events on the calendar for World Usability Day.

* At the University of Minnesota St. Paul Campus participants will participate in a full day program. Presenters will explore the concept of engagement, on the experience of students, library users, The Nerdery and more.

The day’s events are free and will take place at the Student Center Theater, 2017 Buford Avenue, on the St. Paul Campus. More information at http://worldusabilityday.org/events/2014/world-usability-day-university-minnesota

The St. Paul Campus program is sponsored by the IT@UMN User Experience team, UMN Libraries, and the CLA Department of Writing Studies, in collaboration with partners at The Nerdery, Macalester College, MnSCU and Thomson Reuters.

* Starting at 6:30 the same evening, UXPA-MN is sponsoring another celebration of World Usability Day at Rojo Mexican Grill, 1602 West End Boulevard, near the intersection of Highways 100 and 394. Representatives of three local organizations will discuss user-centered design principles that have contributed to their success. Free and open. For more information or to register go to http://www.upamn.org

For more background on World Usability Day check out the WUD website for a great short video intro featuring John Hockenberry. Though his explanation is not new it’s the best possible backgrounder on the idea that shapes the day.   The listing of WUD events around the world underscores the universality of the global theme.

The WUD story brings to mind the pioneer work of Minnesotans Clyde ‘Budd’ and Dolores Hagen of Henderson.   For the past three decades the Hagens have spearheaded the annual Closing the Gap conference on assistive technology. Though Budd died last September, plans for next year are already going full steam. The 33rd Annual Closing the Gap conference will be October 14-16 with pre-conference workshops October 12-13 2015. Again this year the conference will be at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Bloomington. More about Closing the Gap at http://www.closingthegap.com/conference/faqs.lasso

 

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