There’s always something out there that we curse because it is hard to use. I know my first VCR (circa 1979) had a row of tiny dials, each of which had to be tuned to the appropriate station. I can scarcely believe that such a device existed when I look at my current DVR that will record what I tell it to, by name, on whatever channel the show happens to be playing on.
Usability improvements are made every day. In my job we focus on technological advancements, always trying to meet the needs of our users. But user experience — the actual interactions the user has with all this new and helpful technology — is often given less attention. I look at the maniacal way Apple and Steve Jobs design from the outside in, and I am convinced that if things start with usability, the technology will follow.
This coming Friday is Usability Challenge day. Take a look around and see what you can do to solve a nagging problem you have using some product or service.