The World Usability Day is celebrated every year on the 12th November worldwide, with a series of events that aim to bring people together from several communities that have one common goal, which is to ensure that the products and services being developed, can be accessed easily and are as easy to use as possible.
The Cyprus Interaction Lab of the Department of Multimedia and Graphic Arts of the Cyprus University of Technology (CUT) in collaboration with news portal DisruptCyprus have brought to Cyprus Facebook’s Product Design Manager Jonah Jones and Product Designer Leo Mancini straight from London, to celebrate the World Usability Day (WUD) and we were there to get the most out of the seminar and let you know what we’ve learned.
The CUT has been running these seminars for a few years now and more specifically since 2009. This year’s seminar theme was Innovation.
The introduction of the organizers was followed by a presentation from Facebook’s Designers, who talked about the key barriers to usability, the Riff mobile application that Facebook has developed, how the idea has started, how those barriers were overcome for the development of this application and what Riff aims to achieve. The speech was mostly concerned on the sharing aspect of Facebook, as both speakers were from the “Share” team.
Having said that, the most important gains of this event were the barriers that everyone should be thinking of as well as steps to overcoming them. These are the following:
Audience - Am I feeling comfortable enough to share any kind of content?
Quality - Are other people interested in my content?
Context - How does my content fit in the context?
These are three questions and problems that Facebook has come across when designing Facebook’s sharing feature. But after some analysis on the sharing content, it was shown that users were more reluctant to sharing their videos. They were thinking of the above: I am not comfortable enough to share my content, I don’t have a good quality camera to take my video with, nobody is posting videos. And then the Ice Bucket Challenge came in and made Facebook wonder how did everyone step over those barriers and made them non existent? This is how the Riff application started.
Facebook has developed Riff; An application where people can use their phones to take collaborative and fairly low-quality videos and share them with other people. With a playful design, Facebook wanted to make users overcome the aforementioned barriers. Up to now this seems to be successful.
But why did Facebook implement Riff? Facebook does not make incremental changes, nor step changes to its features. Instead, it combines the incremental and step changes and Riff is just an example. It is an experiment, which helped Facebook determine what kind of features they will actually include on the Facebook app taken from Riff. Jonah Jones and Leo Mancini have revealed what we should expect from Facebook, in regards to collaborative video sharing, and this is for example, the ability to create and share a video for your sister’s birthday, or invite her friends to add to the video that you have created for your sister. That would make a great gift, wouldn’t it?
The speech ended with several questions from the crowd to the Designers, including questions in regards to how does Facebook evaluate usability, what their future plans are, how they measure the relevance of content for each user and more. The event ended up with complimentary drinks, talks and a Photobooth for people to take pictures.
The main lessons of the seminar are that starting a project or startup or anything at all, requires you to have a clear purpose. And if you do have a purpose, you really need to consider the audience, quality and context as explained above. In terms of the user interface the design matters a lot to the comfortability of users using the application. Taking into consideration all of the above helps users overcome the psychological aspects that may keep users from using your app. That is all Facebook taught us on the 12th November Event.
To conclude, we expect the next year’s event to be bigger, with more speeches to take place, so we could learn and ask even more things that will make everyone’s lives easier! This was a good event and there’s potential for it to grow even bigger!
Happy belated Usability Day!
For the fun of the event, please check the hashtag #WUDCY both on Facebook and on Twitter.
The event was sponsored and supported by several companies and organizations, which would be a shame not to mention. A big thank you from the crowd too for bringing this event to life.
Ministry of Education & Culture, Cyprus Paedagogical Institute, SIGCHI, Cyprus Association of Research & Innovation Enterprises (CARIE), Cypriot Enterprise Link (CEL), Cyprus Computer Society (CCS), ECDL, StartupCyprus, Infinity Social Media, CUT library, Simos Menardos Language Center, CUTing Edge.