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IDCNZ Kicks Off “World Usablity Day” Events

28 October 2005

IDCNZ Kicks Off “World Usablity Day” Events With The Launch Of The World’s Most Advanced Usability Lab

Press release, CPIT, Christchurch, NZ, 28-Oct-05 – Christchurch’s Information Design CentreNZ (iDCNZ), a CPIT initiative, will be the first in the world to kick off the inaugural “World Usability Day” series of events on 3 November with the launch of the UsabilityLabNZ – New Zealand’s first centre devoted to information design and usability. The new lab brings New Zealand into the 21st century with the world’s most advanced usability testing technology designed and developed locally by Intranel.

Organised by the Usability Professionals’ Association, the World Usability Day comprises a series of international events aimed at promoting the benefits of usability engineering and user-centred design. The goal is to make people aware of the many everyday examples and consequences of poor user design, and to encourage them to think about ways in which the user experience can be simplified and enhanced.

The champagne breakfast launch of the new UsabilityLabNZ at CPIT’s Information Design Centre on High Street, Christchurch marks the very first of over 70 World Usability Day events planned in 36 countries around the world. A number of guests and dignitaries, including Hon. Jim Anderton Minister for Industry and Regional Development and Peter Townsend CEO of the Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce, have been invited to attend the launch that will include product usability and technical demonstrations.

The lab was developed to add usability to New Zealand’s product design process, in order to reduce costs and create products, tools and information that meet the needs of the user.

Alison Reynolds, Project Manager of the Information Design Centre was the brainchild of Christchurch’s newest and most sophisticated commercial usability lab. The idea was seeded during one of the many visits to CPIT’s sister university - the Southern Polytechnic State University (SPSU) in Atlanta, which houses an advanced usability testing lab as part of the University’s Information Design Masters Degree programme. It is used by some of the world’s largest corporates to measure and perfect user experience of prototypes at numerous stages throughout the development. Alison recognised the need for a similar testing system in New Zealand, however SPSU’s system was beyond financial reach.

“We are about five years behind other developed countries when it comes to designing and testing products and information for ease of use and understanding,” says Alison. “There are still every day examples in New Zealand where products are designed more from the engineer’s perspective than the user’s, and where information and forms created by government are incomprehensible to those they were designed for.”

Further investigation led Alison to Andreiko Kerdemelidis of Christchurch based company Intranel, which had successfully developed a clinical observation and coding suite for the Canterbury Child Development Research Group at the University of Canterbury. Intranel’s ‘VideoScribe G1’ technology enables the research group to capture, code and transcribe observational video data. It also has wider applications, including observational usability testing.

With proven expertise and capability, Intranel was commissioned by CPIT to design the lab and develop a new Usability Testing application. The project is a great success and the polytechnic is now the proud owner of one of the largest and most modern usability testing facilities in world. Intranel installed user testing and executive viewing rooms with modern data recording equipment and video streaming technology to offer an enhanced usability testing service with an observational research facility.

“The technology we are building at iDCNZ is the most advanced observational tool on the international market,” says Andreiko. “As a working prototype developed in accordance with iDCNZ’s customer requirements, the usability system will continually improve as more features are incorporated.”

With its newly equipped UsablityLabNZ the team at iDCNZ can now provide a commercial usability testing service beyond standards compliance and functionality tests. The addition of information design and observational usability testing services will benefit a wide array of applications, plus the team can also arrange tests remotely via webcams, or at the customer’s premises to observe the users in their working environment. Already iDCNZ has a number of projects to keep the lab busy through to the end of the year, including enhancing the usability of a local government intranet, an online training package, travel website for older users, and an online shopping system.

John Scott, CEO of CPIT, is delighted with the development. He says, “Everyone involved with the project including Alison and her team at iDCNZ, Jane Gregg, Head of School of Music, Languages and Communication at CPIT, and Andreiko’s team at Intranel have done a sterling job with creating a valuable resource for students that is state-of-the-art, which will also provide a first class commercial testing facility for industry. This facility is exemplar of industry and education collaboration where high value products are created through advanced user-centred design and development.”

About CPIT
Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT) is one of New Zealand’s largest and most diverse tertiary institutions. Established in 1906, CPIT operates three campuses in Christchurch and one in Auckland, providing a wide range of applied, vocational and professional studies to graduate level. CPIT has over 260 programmes including pre-employment, certificate, diploma, degree and graduate qualifications with approximately 30,000 people undertaking study at CPIT each year. The institution is committed to continuing education and responding to the needs of industry through partnership and collaboration.

About the Information Design CentreNZ
iDCNZ developed from the work of the Graduate Diploma of Information Design (GDID), an international online programme offering courses in usability, information design, writing and editing, document management and research. The need for a Lab in New Zealand became apparent when a number of major industry leaders approached the GDID course, looking for a testing service that they could use to help their in-house product development. Much of the work involves improving the user interface of information products relied upon by industry customers and users. The Information Design CentreNZ is based in the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT) in Christchurch, New Zealand. For more information visit www.idcnz.com.

About Intranel
Intranel is a world-class provider of Observational Research and Usability Testing solutions. Established in 2002, Intranel offers powerful integrated software and hardware solutions that are intuitive and easy to use. Our VideoScribe G1 solutions are the most powerful and easiest observational research tools in the market today. Users of the VideoScribe G1 solution find it is the fastest and most cost-effective method to manage and record large observational studies. VideoScribe G1 software also allows you to analyse and export data from your observations quickly, easily and accurately into a spreadsheet or report. For more information visit www.intranel.com.

About The Usability Professionals Association
November 3rd 2005 is first annual World Usability Day organised by the Usability Professionals Association, an international, non-profit, professional association with more than 2000 members in 36 countries. Members are specialists in evaluating and designing products that are easy to learn and use. The aim of UPA is to share usability information amongst members; to act as advocate for usability in consumer, corporate and governmental software, products and web sites; and to educate the general public about usability. For more information visit www.upassoc.org.

ENDS

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