Published parts of ISO 9241

Overview

To help you choose the part of ISO 9241 that is of interest to you, we have provided information about each part of the standard on a single page. Each page contains the following information:

  • Citation
  • Status
  • Lifecycle phase
  • Type of Guidance
  • Application area
  • Scope
  • Audience
  • See also

Citation

This section provides the full reference you should use if you want to cite the standard in a document.

Status

This section describes the current position of the standard. International standards are not born fully-formed but go through a number of gestation stages, starting out as an AWI and ending up as an IS as follows:

AWI » WD » CD » DIS » FDIS » IS

The terms have the following meanings:

  • AWI: Approved Work Item. This signals ISO’s intention to produce a standard.
  • WD: Working Draft. This is an early draft of the standard, for circulation only amongst the experts who are developing it.
  • CD: Committee Draft. The first completed draft, now available for comment (and voting) by national bodies.
  • DIS: Draft International Standard. The last draft for vote and comment by national bodies.
  • FDIS: Final Draft International Standard. Virtually the final document, pending minor editorial changes (such as punctuation).
  • IS: International Standard.

In fact, all of the parts of ISO 9241 are now at IS stage. The reason we have kept this section in the document is to support later issues of this guide, which will also describe standards at earlier stages. Programmers call this “upward compatibility”.

Lifecycle phase

The book E-commerce Usability describes a development lifecycle model based closely on the usability standard, “Human Centred Design processes for Interactive Systems” (ISO 13407: 1999).  This model (shown in the figure) has four main lifecycle phases:

  • Analyse the opportunity;
  • Build the context of use;
  • Create the user experience;
  • Track real-world usage and continuously improve the system.

For each part of ISO 9241, we use this model to show where the part can be applied in the lifecycle.

CCD Process ModelText description

CCD Process Model. Some of the parts od ISO 9241 can be applied at more than one stage.

We can flesh out this skeleton as follows:

Analyse the opportunity

This stage provides the business context for the product or service: within this stage usability professionals identify why the system is being developed, identify the stakeholders and segment the market for the system. They look across platforms and e-channels with a focus on audience behaviour and attitudes.

Build the context of use

This results in a rich description of customers, the environment in which customers access the system and a description of realistic activities or scenarios. Usability professionals use these to tease out the inherent psychological aspects of the customer experience.

Create the user experience

This is a rapid, iterative process.  Usability professionals begin by agreeing key performance indicators for the system: quantitative measures, based on key customer and business requirements that the management team use to determine if the system is ready to release. Next, they develop the user interface architecture (the high-level, conceptual design) and carry out the detailed design, starting with paper sketches and then moving to electronic slide shows or interactive prototypes.  They then test for usability, by using both domain experts and representative customers.

Track real-world usage and continuously improve the system

Usability professionals track customer behaviour as they update their skills, their tasks and their environment.  They also track several key business measures to ensure clients get a return on their investment.

Type of Guidance

Some parts of ISO 9241 contain detailed specifications. For example, ISO 9241-3 contains the following specification: “For character fonts without serifs, the between-character spacing shall be a minimum of one stroke width or one pixel”. Other parts contain more general guidance. For example, ISO 9241-110 contains the following recommendation: “If defaults exist for a given task, they should be made available to the user”.  This section simply identifies the type of guidance contained within the standard.

Application area

Some parts of ISO 9241 apply to hardware, some to software and others apply to usability processes.  Hardware guidelines are useful for evaluating the ergonomics of workstations. Software guidelines are useful for detailed guidance on the way user interfaces should look and feel. Process guidelines are useful for specifying overall quality and usability requirements. This section identifies the application area for the standard.

Scope

In this section, we provide a detailed description of the contents of the standard.

Audience

ISO 9241 is aimed at a range of professional groups, including engineers, usability professionals, designers of user interface development tools, end users, and people responsible for procuring software and hardware. However, some of the parts require a certain amount of technical expertise (ISO 9241-7 on display reflections is a good case in point).  Other parts are accessible to anyone. In this section we try to give some idea of the technical skills you will need to fully understand the part.

See also

The final section contains cross-references to other parts of ISO 9241 and other standards.

Note: this page is a few editions behind the eBook and may be out-of-date. For the very latest on ISO 9241 get the eBook version of ISO 9241 for Beginners.


Web Usability: An Introduction to User Experience

Oct 22-23, London: Get hands on practice with user experience techniques like personas, card sorting, contextual inquiry and heuristic evaluation. More details

Download the best of Userfocus. For free.

100s of pages of practical advice on user experience, in handy portable form. 'Bright Ideas' eBooks.

Free newsletter

Over 7,000 people get our monthly newsletter. Sign up now and download your free guide to usability test moderation.

ISO 9241 for Beginners

Do you need a more up-to-date version of this guide? Do you need a version formatted for printing? Would you like a searchable version of this document on your own computer? Buy the ISO 9241 eBook.


Our services

Let us help you create great customer experiences.

Upcoming courses

We run regular training courses in usability and user experience.

Get free email updates

Join the thousands of other people who get their monthly fix of user experience insights from Userfocus and get a free guide to usability test moderation.