World Usability Day 2009 – Make it Sustainable

Today 12th November 2009 is World Usability Day. The theme for this year is designing for a sustainable world. Something we often don’t think about with web design.

“So what”, I hear you say. “What does usability and sustainability have to do with me?” Often in our efforts to make things more usable we end up with a finished product that is not sustainable. One that just ends up contributing to our increasingly throwaway society. It’s about designing so we don’t use resources that are not renewable. Any design process is not just about people like myself designing customer centric web sites; it’s about the business owner, the designer and the users of the site all be involved in the process together. So it follows on that we all have a role to play in making anything we design sustainable.

“What does this have to do with the web; it’s just an electronic medium?” True, but we can look at the processes of the design and how we execute it. We can also look at the computers and facilities we put our web sites on.

But it can be more than just being about the web.  Making even a little effort to change the simpler things from this day forward can help.   For instance we are now using less paper for the development process of web sites, with a finial push to make our complete design production cycle, paperless. Or even just using more libraries of code when building a web site, hence recycling the code elements of the site itself.

Around Australia and the world this day is being celebrated with a series of events.   However coming off the back of several back to back conferences, some of which I have been speaking at, I can understand why there is no real local Perth event for World Usability Day. Maybe this will change next year.

Also let’s not forget that it is about making sure that our web sites are as usable as they can be, for their budget. Sometimes it’s hard to see the usability issues if we are working closely with a web site day in day out. This is where you need a set of independent eyes to look over your web site.

Remember ensuring your customers have a better experience with your web site translates into a higher return on investment. Let’s just try and make it a little more sustainable.