Sunday, February 18, 2007

Usability to the people

The trend toward usability ...

"The other night when I was trying to make my way to bed, I kept stumbling over gadgets, accompanied by a sea of chargers and cables of different sizes and shapes. Looking around our cramped little flat, I realised that they are taking over whatever little floor space is left.

In our household there are laptops (three), iPods (four), a Mac Mini running Windows Media Centre, digital cameras, DVD players, video games, portable games and cellphones, plus all the gadgets that I’m lucky enough to have sent to me for testing. Sure, we are a geeky couple, but I don’t think the amount of devices we have stacked up is unusual.

The growing piles of gadgets and cables have evoked in me a strong faith in the USB cable. Recently, we bought a new digital camera just because the one we had couldn’t be charged via USB. The ultimate thing would be One USB Cable to Rule Them All.

And One Remote to Rule Them All, for that matter.

It would certainly make my life less complicated if the design of electronic devices and their accessories was more heavily influenced by convenience and simplicity. And call me an optimist, but I don’t think I’m barking up an impossible tree. In fact, there are some very promising signs this is already happening.

A wind of change is blowing in the user interface landscape. There is an increased awareness around usability, as many vendors realise the people using their technology really appreciate when technology works for them, not the other way around.

Among the leaders in usability innovation are Google, Apple and Nintendo, but smaller institutions, like New Zealand’s own HIT Lab (Human Interface Technology) at the University of Canterbury, also contribute to the evolution.

Some of the big players with wider turning circles, such as Microsoft and IBM, are surprisingly fast to catch on to the usability trend. But you have got to wonder about Lotus Notes, though."    (Continued via Computerworld)    [Usability Resources]


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