Ideas for World Usability Day – Nov. 14

Evangelizing Usability, Human Computer Interaction, Usability, User Experience

As posted on UPA-DC-Metro Listserv

Participate in World Usability Day, Nov 14: “Make Yourself Useful!”

Dear UPA-DC-Metro Listserv members,

“Usability” is the big differentiator between great websites and mediocre ones.

One way to educate people to ask for and expect good usability is through World Usability Day, which involved over 130 events in 70 cities and 30 countries last year. On behalf of the Web Managers Forum Usability Task Group, we invite you all to participate in this year’s World Usability Day. It’s a fantastic opportunity for you to highlight usability among your web team and throughout your agency or organization.

Go to to read all about World Usability Day, or see the details below:

WHO: Web managers, usability specialists, information designers, web developers, and others

WHAT: World Usability Day — sponsor an event at your agency or organization

WHEN: Tuesday, November 14, 2006 (see for worldwide information and posters)

WHERE: At your agency or organization

WHY: To heighten awareness of usable websites and user-centered design activities in government

HOW: “Make Yourself Useful!” by organizing one of the following activities:

1) Assess the usability of your public website
How Usable is Your Website? Take the Usability I.Q. Test and rate your site against the top 25 usability guidelines to see how it stacks up.
Usability for $1.98. Using a laptop or paper prototype, conduct a “usability-study-on-the-cheap” in the lobby or cafeteria of your building. Ask users to find the three most important items on your website.

2) Improve your Intranet
Re-architect your agency or organization’s Intranet home page. The Intranet is often the ugly stepdaughter of websites; it never gets asked to the ball. On copies of the Intranet Home Page, ask employees to highlight or write-in the three areas they find most useful. Have them scratch out areas they never use.
Create personas for your Intranet. Ask employees to complete a simple demographic survey so you have a better idea of whom your typical users are and what they need.

3) Think about usability beyond computers
Redesign an important form. Choose a form (electronic or paper) and ask employees to help redesign it. Do a “lobby card sort” with cards or stickies or ask employees to highlight important fields with a marker. Choose the parking application, a health insurance explanation of benefits, the pay and benefits statement, or other “troublesome” form.
Revise signage in your building. Post new signage for the day. Make sure employees understand the connection to World Usability Day by staffing a table in the lobby and soliciting feedback on the new signage.

How can I get people involved and share what we learn?


Give every participant something for helping. Even an apple or a roll of mints shows appreciation.

Report Your Findings

Photograph the event. Immediately (or the next day), consolidate and document your findings. E-mail a summary (with pictures) to your web team; the head of human resources; the agency/organization head–and the employees. Ask for follow-up.

Bonus – Give Commendations

Have you seen a website, an online form, or some other product that reflects great usability? Or just the opposite? Have some fun and use the Usability Commendation (PDF, 665 KB) and Usability Violation (PDF , 617 KB) to rate the status of usability in and around your agency or organization.

Print and give commendations to owners of websites and applications that are usable (or not usable). Print blank commendations to hand out in the lobby. Doing so will help people see what’s working well and what needs improvement.

Many thanks,
Nicole Burton and Sanjay Koyani, Co-chairs
Web Managers Forum
Task Group on Usability, Accessibility, and Design

Nicole Burton
Usability Specialist
Office of Citizen Services and Communications / Web Best Practices Team
General Services Administration

Sanjay Koyani
Web Management Team
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


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