#WUD2010 – On the 11th of November 2010 I attended the World Usability Day in Stuttgart, which was the biggest event of that kind in Germany, with about 5 parallel tracks of sessions and workshops, organized by the German UPA. The venue was the Treffpunkt Rotebühlplatz in the center of the town. The event also took place world-wide and consists in raising awareness for the importance of user-friendliness in our lives.
Usability timelineFirst I listened to the keynote by Franz Koller (User Interface Design GmbH), who talked about the roots of usability in the work environment. He pointed out that the word "Usability" slowly gets replaced by "User Experience", which covers a broader range of expectations towards a product. Franz also showed the iterative quality of a UX professional's work and the difference phases of the process: analysis, concept, prototype, test. He emphasized on the fact that interfaces have to be designed for the users to have fun and interact together at the same time, possibly with the same device. As an outlook he gave us to think about the merging of the worlds: reality and virtuality converge and melt into each other with cross-platform applications, mobile identity, augmented reality, etc.
Usability and communicationThen I took pleasure in Claus Wagner's vivid presentation about communication between human and machine. Claus compared the ways of communication between people with those between a human being and a device. With lots of examples he showed that the interactions are alike, regardless of the person or machine we interact with. (Raise your hand if you've never ever talked to your computer!) He also warned about the dangers of the technocratisation of media: technology shouldn't be systematically seen (and reinforced) as superior and humans as eternal newbies. Seeing the process from this perspective will lead the (UX) designers to plan for humans, even if they are interacting with a machine, and to take the rules of human-to-human communication into account, moving one step further than "just HCI". With a nice card game outside the session, Claus showed the visitors how a UX professional is like a pilot, who has to keep an eye on many different factors to do his work efficiently.
Bits and pieces
- There were many companies and schools presenting their work and discoveries parallely to the sessions, and I had the chance to chat with Ingo Pokora from NETFORMIC GmbH.
- During the talk about usability patterns by Michael Gerlinger (WidasConcepts GmbH) I was relieved to hear that other people also have problems establishing names for their patterns among their companies. ;)
- I saw other interesting presentations, met people, got to see some art exposed on the walls to complete the experience.
- Many companies present at the event are hiring UX professionals and graphic designers, so have a look at them if you're seeking work in or near Stuttgart! The event's sponsors are listed on the WUD's website.