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World Usability Day

An annual event, World Usability Day is an Earth-Day-style celebration focusing on easy-to-use technology. This year, usability specialists, web managers, and web designers organized over 220 events in 40 countries to heighten awareness of usable websites and user-centered design activities.

When Was it?

The second annual World Usability Day was celebrated on November 14, 2006. Listen to an interview on usability in government with General Services Administration usability specialist Nicole Burton and Federal News Radio 1050 AM.

For worldwide updates and posters, visit www.worldusabilityday.org.

What Can I Do to Increase Usability at My Agency?

The Web Managers Forum Usability Task Group encourages web managers, usability specialists, and others to continue the spirit of World Usability Day by organizing one of the following activities at your agency:

  1. Assess the usability of your agency’s public website
    • How usable is your website? Take the Usability I.Q. Test and rate your site against the top 25 usability guidelines (MS Word, 60KB, November 2006) 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’s Intranet homepage. 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 (MS Word, 190KB, November 2006) so you have a better idea of who 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 Post-Its or ask employees to highlight important fields with a marker. Choose a 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 a day. Make sure employees understand the connection to improved usability 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 your activities and write up your findings. E-mail a summary (with pictures) to your web team; the head of human resources; the agency head; and employees. Ask for follow-up.

Every Day Can Be “Usability Day” - 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, November 7, 2006, requires Adobe Acrobat Reader) and Usability Violation (PDF, 617 KB, November 7, 2006, requires Adobe Acrobat Reader) to rate usability in and around your agency.

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.

Tell Us About Your Website Successes

Send names and addresses of government websites and applications you deem "usability success stories" to Nicole Burton, and we may feature them on this website and USA.gov, the U.S. government's official web portal.

Content Lead: Nicole Burton

Page Updated or Reviewed: November 15, 2006

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