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Usability question comes of age

Staff Reporter

HYDERABAD: It's all about making things easier in life. Right from avoiding the race around buses to see its number and destination to getting one cell phone charger that can be used for any mobile, whether it is a Nokia, Samsung or Motorola. And even about changing the design of manholes to make them easier for cleaning, and yes, safer for pedestrians.

The Usability Movement is one that stems from the frustration of having to resign to little things that irritate daily routine.

Because not all things are user-centric in this age that is technology-driven, instead of crafting and using technology to suit one's needs.

Usabilitymatters.org, posted online by a group of youngsters led by Kaladhar Bapu, head of Usability Group at Cordys, is the website of the movement that revolves around snapshots of everyday life where there is a lack of orientation to make designs work for people who are meant to consume them daily.

The movement in the city was formally kicked off with a conference on World Usability Day on Thursday, which aimed at bringing about sensitisation towards usability concerns.

Cartoon contest

The conference, which brought together experts in product design, packaging, design research, usability research, architecture and others, also had two contests, a Bad Design Competition and the International UMO Cartoon Contest.

The bad design contest had 10 short-listed entries which included takes on RTC buses in the city, which do not display the destination or number on the side, making it difficult for commuters standing in the bus-stop to know whether it is the bus they have been waiting for.

Another entry was on power adapters in cell phones, noting that though the required power output was same for most mobiles, the input pin does not allow one use the charger of a different phone.

The footrest of the two-wheeler, Honda Activa, too was criticised, because users felt the footrest had to be opened by hand and not by foot.

There were more, like window positions for people standing in a bus. In most buses, windows are designed such that it is impossible for a person standing to catch a glimpse of the bus-stop.

The design of computer keyboard, which is hard to clean, pouches of milk and oil, which have problems of grip and opening and the height of pavements, which is so high that the car bumper could hit the pavement, were also among the entries.

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