By Ondrej Langr on Nov 15, 2007
Ondrej Langr is an interaction designer working on NetBeans IDE, and he is located in Prague, Czech Republic
This was the third year in which the World Usability Day also took place here in the Czech Republic. Organized by Sun Microsystems, Czech Technical University and Dobry web (one of Czech Republic's biggest web usability and design consultant companies), under the aegis of Czech SIGCHI, it was a big success. The Czech usability community is steadily growing, and after 80 visitors at the first WUD in 2005 and 140 visitors at WUD in 2006 we had 220 registered visitors this year. The event took place in a Palace Cinema with the capacity of more than 280 people.
The topic of this year's WUD was "Get to know your user", and we had some of the top speakers. Nalini Kotamraju (Sun Microsystems) had a keynote about "What Does it Mean to Know Users?", Jakub Franc (Sun Microsystems) talked about his experience with user research on elderly people done in cooperation with Czech Technical University. Martin Klíma (Czech Technical University) shared the other side of the experience about how it was to adapt user research into a medium-scaled European Commission sponsored research project. During the break between lectures, visitors had a chance to learn more about Czech Technical University’s usability lab and about Czech SIGCHI at two booths in the lobby.
Those who were fast enough to sign-up for workshops (due to limited number of seats, all workshops were booked out during the first day they were announced!) met at Prague’s Sun Microsystems site in the early afternoon. There were three parallel workshops:
- Introduction to Usability Testing, led by myself (15 seats)
- User Research led by Jakub Franc, Sun Microsystem's user researcher (12 seats)
- Web Usability Testing in Praxis, led by Adam Fendrych from Dobrý web (12 seats)
I was not able to attend two out of three workshops, so I can only report on Introduction to Usability Testing. Participants came from both local and international companies, and there were also some students. After the necessary theoretical part where participants learned how to prepare and conduct a usability study, they were led, step by step, through the process of preparing a usability study and got a chance to try a real test session in Sun Microsystems' state-of-the-art usability lab.
The most interesting part of the workshop for me was the discussion. Considering that the usability awareness in East and Central Europe is relatively small (for example, in this area WUD only takes place in Czech Republic, Poland, Bulgaria and Russia), surprisingly many participants had some experience with trying to employ user-centered techniques in their production process. However, their attempts had often failed, mainly because their companies are too technology-driven and because customers and management in this part of Europe still do not see benefits of UCD for their business.
However, the situation is improving. Sun and other members of Czech SIGCHI are building the usability community in Czech Republic and already thinking about how to make the next WUD even better!