Usability Standards

Usability | May 2016

We believe that usability standards, especially international usability standards, are the key to delivering quality products, systems and services. They provide valuable tools for promoting best practice.

Why use international usability standards?

Usability standards are a vital tool for designers who want to create usable products for their target audiences: organisations can not afford to ignore them. In Europe and many other parts of the world, compliance with relevant standards is a mandatory requirement in major contracts.

Usability standards, especially international usability standards:

  • Promote a consistent user interface by providing a shared reference across design teams or time
  • Provide definitive, authoritative, widely agreed statements of good practice
  • Place user experience issues directly on the business agenda
  • Help organisations meet their legal requirements under disability and health and safety legislation.

About the standard

Laptop keyboard in useThe ISO 9241-210:2010 refers to the human-centred design for interactive systems. It provides requirements and recommendations to follow a human-centred design process for computer-based interactive systems.

The human-centred design process includes four key activities (as set out in the international standard):

  • Understand and specify the context of use (including users, tasks, environments)
  • Specify the user requirements in sufficient detail to drive the design
  • Produce design solutions to meet these requirements
  • Evaluate the designs against the user requirements, and make changes to the design to incorporate the results from the evaluation.

The above activities correspond to the overall stages of design and development, within a product’s lifecycle. However, these activities can also be applied to obtain feedback on initial design concepts or to conduct initial research to inform early concepts.

The human-centred design is based on the following core principles:

  • Design based upon an explicit understanding of users, tasks and environments
  • Users are involved throughout design and development
  • Design is driven and refined by user-centred evaluation
  • Process is iterative
  • Design addresses the whole user experience
  • The design team includes multidisciplinary skills and perspectives.

Our expertise

For over 25 years, our founder, Tom Stewart, has been instrumental in developing the ISO 9241 series, one of the most influential standards in usability and ergonomics. As a result of his active involvement in creating standards, System Concepts has always had a keen awareness and understanding of these standards.

We can help you understand and follow the human-centred design process (as set out by the international standard) to improve the usability and user experience of your product or service.