Universal Usability
Tuesday, October 9, 2007 at 20:04
martian77 in HCCS Adv

I did start looking at Julie Howell's page, but she focuses on website accessibility.

Universal Usability is more than just making online pages accessible once someone has the required technology. According to UniversalUsability.org  it is how to make information and communications services available to everyone. This includes things like supplying access to the services (initiatives such as the $100 laptop with the aim to supply access to children in 'developing' countries). It is not sufficient to simply provide access. The complexity of computer systems creates a need for instruction before effective use can take place. This highlights the accessibility and usability areas of research, and the need to create more intuitive, simple systems.

Ben Schneiderman keeps coming up. He opened the ACM conference on Universal Usability (November 16-17, 2000, Arlington, VA, USA) too. Keith Instone seems to run the UniversalUsability.org webpage, which came about as a result of the 2000 conference.

There have been two conferences on Universal Usability in 2000 and 2003. Surely due another one?  

Research areas

There are three main areas for research: technology variety (supporting a wide range of access devices), user diversity, and gaps in user knowledge (what the gaps are and how to bridge them).

Most work at the moment appears to be focused on web accessibility, which would appear to come under user diversity. Although I suppose the gaps in the user knowledge could be being bridged by making interfaces more intuitive to a degree. The challenges of mobile devices are being investigated to increase the range of access devices - driven mostly by the ubiquitous nature of the devices.  


Article originally appeared on Life on Mars (http://www.martiandaze.net/).
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