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Dec 2005 Contents

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World Usability Day in Finland

by Timo Jokela

Dr. Timo Jokela is an acting professor at the Oulu University, Finland. His research interests include usability engineering and its effective implementation in development projects.

In Oulu, Finland, we organized a seminar, "Human technology: integrating usability into software and product development." Oulu is a booming technology city in Finland where Nokia and other IT companies employ thousands of people. To attract participants, we invited two international guest speakers: Erik Frøkjær and Kasper Hornbæk from Copenhagen University. In addition, we had national presenters from research organizations and companies.

The audience for our World Usability Day seminar.
The audience for our World Usability Day seminar.

Our target was around 50 participants; in a good case probably 100. The number of participants exceeded all our expectations. In the research oriented morning session, there were 120 participants. The main event in the afternoon attracted 180 participants! The attendees were mainly usability people and user interface designers from the Oulu area, but some were also from other parts of Finland. We also had a small exhibition. After the seminar, we had a light buffet and informal gathering together.

The feedback from the seminar really indicated the need for this kind of a seminar. We plan to organize an event for next year. The event should be - as it was now - free of charge. An international guest speaker is a must. And the target audience for the event will be the same: usability people and user interface designers. There seems to be an apparent educational need to leverage new, up-to-date knowledge about usability for practitioners. It just is not possible for most practitioners to travel to usability conferences and seminars. And this is what our focus probably will be: an educational event for practitioners.

Many usability colleagues from other places in Finland really appreciated our seminar. They said, "Congratulations on organizing such a great usability event in Oulu!" It may be that a WUD event will be organized next year also in other cities in Finland.

And many thanks to the WUD organization. Without WUD, this event would have never taken place!

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