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World Usability Day November 8, 2007- Michigan Event at MSU

On November 8, 2007, over 40,000 people in 175 cities in 35 countries gathered to honor World Usability Day. The founding goal of World Usability Day is to “ensure that the services and products important to life are easier to access and simpler to use.” This year’s global theme focused on healthcare—how our health is influenced by design.

World Usability Day Logo

The Michigan event was hosted by the Michigan State University Usability & Accessibility Center. Two highlights for me were speakers who showed the incremental user interface improvements that they achieved through user experience research:

  • Jennifer Baird from Accuri Cytometers and Rich Sheridan from Menlo Innovations shared how they collaborated to build usability from the beginning into the software and hardware for Accuri Cytometers’ inexpensive flow cytometry system. They showed the evolution of the software over time: 10 screenshots that showed the user interface as it changed through the development process.
  • Laurie Kantner of the user-centered design firm Tec-Ed discussed how her firm used user observations to incrementally improve the design of a system to choose health insurance benefits collaboratively. She showed the “before” and the “after” versions of the user interface, and she described the methods they used, the data, and the reasoning behind the changes Ted-Ed recommended.

Perhaps because it was at the MSU Usability & Accessibility Center, all of the talks were simultaneously “translated” into sign language. I found myself completely absorbed by the two sign language translators. They took turns signing as the speakers talked, and I marveled at the speed with which they absorbed the information and shared it. Somehow their presence exemplified the event for me—people working hard to make knowledge and functionality available to all.

At the reception, someone I met said “oh, Pure Visibility! You do usability work??!” We haven’t been calling it that, but we sure do! Much of the work we do in search engine optimization is helping to make our clients’ information more accessible to search engines. Along with ensuring our clients’ sites are visible to folks searching online, we work hard to ensure that our clients’ sites work for the visitors they want to target (are usable), otherwise sending web traffic would be a waste of paid clicks and a waste of search engine optimization effort.

Happy World Usability Day!

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About Dunrie Greiling

Dunrie Greiling is the former Chief Operating Officer at Pure Visibility, but her favorite job title at PV was Director of Happiness. She co-authored the book Internet Marketing Start to Finish, published by Pearson Education, Que Publishing. At her personal blog, Scientific Ink, she writes about things like yoga, knitting, and travel. She can be found on Google+, LinkedIn, and microblogs on Twitter as @dunrie.

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