Across the world, designers of everything from cell phones to Web sites are celebrating World Usability Day today. Founded in 2005 as an initiative of the Usability Professionals' Association, World Usability Day is an annual event highlighting the importance of good design and ease-of-use in everyday products and services, including government Web sites.

Today is the day to commit to making your site or application more usable over the coming year. Here are three simple ways to start:

1) Figure out your users' top tasks: Talk to 5-10 members of your target audience who have used your site; ask them what question they were trying to answer, or what tasks they were trying to complete when they visited your site. You can do this at an upcoming conference, or just pick up the phone and call some users you know.

2) Review your site for scannability: Take 30 minutes today to walk through your site—does your content include bullets and subheaders to lead your user quickly through the content? Are your words simple and direct, without jargon or "fluff?" Learn more about using plain language or refer to EERE's content standards for more information.

3) Set up a usability consult: Schedule a time for you and your team to chat with Wendy Littman, our in-house usability consultant; consults are FREE to you (courtesy of TAO). Wendy can:

  • Help your team develop a plan for incorporating usability techniques into your site or application redesign
  • Assist your team in carrying out your plan
  • Work with you to review your study results and plan changes for your site
  • Help your team measure the results of your usability efforts.

Wendy can be reached by e-mail or at 301-525-7521.

Remember, usability doesn't have to be costly or time consuming—anything you can do to help your users is better than doing nothing! And keep your eye on EERE's Web standards site in the coming months for a new usability toolkit.