I find it shameful that the computing industry has done such a poor job of usability. Maybe Web 2.0 is our 2.0nd chance.
Occasional thoughts by Rohan Jayasekera of Toronto, Canada.
I've been online since 1971 and I like to smoothe the way for everyone else. Among other things I co-founded Sympatico, the world's first easy-to-use Internet service (and Canada's largest).
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Equally problematic, at what point in the organization does someone really OWN the success of their product or service or feature? Product, marketing, engineering, corporate strategy, financial operations… there are so many people in charge (or believe that they are in charge) that it’s not clear if anyone is in charge. This forces decisions to be pushed up - rather than down. It forces decisions by committee or consensus and discourages the innovators from breaking the mold… thinking outside the box.This situation exists in lots of organizations, with the same consequences. In a company that makes its living selling one or more products (by which I mean to cover all of “product or service or feature” — see my earlier post What is a "product"?), multiple people have a legitimate claim to make decisions about a product. If a product isn’t marketed properly, it won’t sell. If it isn’t built properly, it may not sell — or if it does, maybe not for long. If the financials aren’t right, it may sell — but lose money.
Technology today is too hard to use. A cell phone should be as easy to use as a doorknob. In order to humanize a world that uses technology as an infrastructure for education, healthcare, government, communication, entertainment, work, and other areas, we must agree to develop technologies in a way that serves people first.
Technology should enhance our lives, not add to our stress or cause danger through poor design or poor quality. It is our duty to ensure that this technology is effective, efficient, satisfying and reliable, and that it is usable by all people. This is particularly important for people with disabilities, because technology can enhance their lives, letting them fully participate in work, social and civic experiences.
Human error is a misnomer. Technology should be developed knowing that human beings have certain limitations. Human error will occur if technology is not both easy to use and easy to understand. We need to reduce human error that results from bad design.
We believe a united, coordinated effort is needed to develop reliable, easy-to-use technology to serve people in all aspects of their lives, including education, health, government, privacy, communications, work and entertainment. We must put people at the center of design, beginning with their needs and wants, and resulting in technology that benefits all of us.
Therefore, we, the undersigned, agree to work together to design technology that helps human beings truly realize their potential, so that we can create a better world for ourselves and future generations.
We agree to observe World Usability Day each year, to provide a single worldwide day of events around the world that brings together communities of professional, industrial, educational, citizen and governmental groups for our common objective: to ensure that technology helps people live to their full potential and helps create a better world for all citizens everywhere.
The classic example of the Web 2.0 era is the “mash-up” — for example, connecting a rental-housing Web site with Google Maps to create a new, more useful service that automatically shows the location of each rental listing.The current Wikipedia definition of a mashup is “a website or web application that seamlessly combines content from more than one source into an integrated experience.” But most mashups, including the canonical example above, are nothing but the use of a mapping engine to graphically display locations. Just as I told Blogger.com that Markoff’s sentence above was a quote, so that it would be displayed in a suitable way, location data is often usefully displayed in map format, and that’s all there is to it. That there is also content included from another source (such as the locations of streets) is incidental: if the mapping engine used a snapshot of street information, instead of pulling it from a database, in most cases it would be just as useful.