2011 Theme – Education: Designing for Social Change

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Education: Designing for Social Change

Honoring Steve Jobs, a role model for Education: Designing for Social Change
By Elizabeth Rosenzweig, Director, World Usability Day

When I heard that Steve Jobs died, I felt like a light went out in the world. Ever since I started using the Macintosh computer, in 1985, I felt encouraged that there were people out there who really understood how to use technology to help people achieve their dreams. The organizers of World Usability Day honor the legacy of Steve Jobs by acknowledging him as a pioneer, an innovator and a leader who showed us the essence of how good design can create change, for the better, especially in the field of Education. Not just at Apple, but at his companies Next and Pixar, Steve Jobs pulled together teams of talented people to show the world that technology can help people learn and enjoy life.

Steve Jobs is a perfect example of a person who intuitively understood the power of user-centered design.

From the very beginning, he made sure that Apple employed people who were tasked to advocate for the customer. In the early 1980s this had never been heard of.. Steve Jobs understood that a company would better serve its customers, if they were listened to. His innovative work related directly to the rise of an awareness of usability. Apple introduced the notion of a desktop that held folders and files. He extended the technology by providing users with a model they could understand, and, therefore, more easily remember. As a result of this understanding of users, Jobs helped transform the computer from a technical tool for businesses, to a platform for consumers.

Jobs knew that a product or service is only successful when it meets the needs of the users, making their lives easier and more enjoyable. There are conflicting stories of whether he was a true supporter of the methodology of user-centered design, but there is clear agreement that he knew how to figure out what users’ needed and wanted.

More than anything, Steve Jobs showed us what it was like to inspire people, live a dream and show us the way to create technology that will change lives and make the world a better place. In June 2005, Jobs gave the Commencement address at Stanford University “When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: ‘If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.’ It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

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