I learned from the most recent Forrester newsletter that World Usability Day will occur in two days on November 3. It is a worldwide series of events organized by the Usability Professionals' Association (UPA). The aim of World Usability Day is to promote awareness of the benefits of usability and user-centered design, Earth Day-style. The site is actually a blog. I especially liked their post on Examples of Everyday Objects where they list such things as:
The OXO measuring cup. You can read it from above so you don't need to crouch down to see if you have poured in the right amount.
One-handed paint bucket. A magnetized interior holds the brush so it drips back in.
Tetley tea bags are double-stringed so you don't need to squeeze it over a spoon
The UPA site, itself, says that UPA “supports those who promote and advance the development of usable products, reaching out to people who act as advocates for usability and the user experience.” Their next UPA conference (2006) is on the theme of Usability through Storytelling. It sounds like a good idea but a bit of a stretch.
I applaud usability and often see the need for training as a symptom of the lack of good design. Forrester itself evaluates good and bad self service kiosks. They concluded that banks are much better than retailers in good intuitive design for their kiosks. I would agree here.