World Usability Day 2007

12th November 2007

Once again User Vision opened its doors for our "usability open house" to mark World Usability Day. Our offices were transformed into a hive of activity on the 8th of November to help raise awareness of usability and accessibility issues.

Over 70 high profile clients and partners came along to our central Edinburgh facility to learn more about usability across a range of platforms. The User Vision team set a number of fun and informative usability challenges to test various products, websites, softwares and concepts. Further more a series of interactive demonstrations and workshops helped to raise awareness of the importance of usability and accessibility in the modern day.

Man taking part in the healthy lunch challengeOur challenges and demonstrations included:

  • Guess the airport symbol challenge.
  • Finding the most healthy lunch option using food labels.
  • Information architecture workshop.
  • Comparison of adaptive text solutions.
  • Eye tracking of printed stimulus.
  • Demonstration from Katie Went of Dundee University showcasing new software for prescribing medicine in hospitals.
  • Exhibition from blind photographer Rosita MacKenzie.
  • Accessibility testing of websites.
  • Usability testing and eye tracking of websites.

Our challenges brought with them some very interesting results. Some worth noting are;

  • The average time to complete the British airport symbol test was 1.24 minutes compared to 1.12 minutes for the American version of the challenge. However on average people only identified 55% of the American symbols compared with 80% of British symbols. Looks like airport symbols on this side of the pond are more usable than their American counterparts.
  • Our disabled test volunteers found most of the websites tested were not accessible for the blind or those with motor difficulties, confirming there is still a lot to be done in terms of making the web accessible to all.
  • Despite a great deal of media attention and debate, we found that consumers did not make use of GDA and traffic light food labelling. Instead our users favoured packaging in determining if an item was healthy or not. To find out more on our food labelling test read our Making Healthy choices article.

Katie Went demonstrates automated doctor's notes

This year we privileged to have Katie Went from Dundee University demonstrate her revolutionary new software for the medical profession. Katie has developed new software to help eliminate issues arising from people misreading doctors’ handwriting on bed notes, which have in the passed had serious consequences including fatalities. The new development allows doctors and nurses to note and administer drugs through a laptop style computer which replaces traditional bed notes.  An interesting article on Katie's work can be found at Sundayherald.comLink opens in a new window

Exhibition of Rosita McKenzies workWe were also fortunate enough to display some pieces from Rosita MacKenzie’s photography collection. Rosita is a blind photographer who dispels the myth that the visually impaired can't access photography. Rosita uses raised impressions so that people can feel an image and allow them to understand what the photograph is of without actually seeing it. All those who attended our event where astounded at Rosita’s work and we are grateful she could be there to explain to our visitors her methods.

Overall our “Usability Open House” was a huge success with everyone attending having an enjoyable and informative afternoon. Here at User Vision, we are passionate about usability and accessibility and enjoy any opportunity to help raise awareness and give people a greater understanding of the obstacles facing users today.

More pictures

Two men observing a usability test through a one way mirror

Our one way mirror put to good use during a usability study

Demonstration of eye tracking of print adverts

What do your users see on your adverts?

woman using adaptive text software on a PDA

Adaptive text solutions put to the test!

An accessibility test with a blind user

Our visitors gain real insight into the issues faced by a disabled user

Laura Fealy

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This article was written by Laura Fealy. Laura is the Marketing Assistant for User Vision, a usability and accessibility consultancy that helps clients gain a competitive advantage through improved ease of use.

Just wanted to reiterate my thanks for a very enlightening and detail packed course. Both myself and my colleague came away with many new perspectives, and confirmations of what we felt was right for UI structures.  As a result we will be revising a key money making part to our site based on the learnings.

Multimedia Consultant, Training Delegate.