An important usability standard has been updated for the user experience era. The standard describes 6 key principles of human centred design and serves as a manifesto for the field of user experience.
A recently published international standard requires manufacturers of medical devices to follow a systematic usability process. To comply, manufacturers of medical devices will need to change the way they design, develop, test and manufacture their systems.
2008 saw the release of several international usability standards, many within the influential ISO 9241 series. Two of these standards focus on accessibility and another provides guidelines for usable web sites. This article explains why usability standards are important and summarises the 13 new parts of ISO 9241.
This white paper describes each of the many parts of ISO 9241 in detail. Now available for viewing on-line and off-line (in pdf and epub format).
ISO have released a new standard for measuring the usability of every day products, like ticket machines, mobile phones and digital cameras. This standard, ISO 20282, includes test methods for quantifying the usability of consumer products to ensure they meet a pre-defined quality level. This development is exciting because the standard's focus on usability measurement reflects a sea change in the evolving practice of usability. In the old world, usability specialists just found usability problems with a design. In the new world, usability specialists also answer the question: "How usable is this design?"
Are you a CIO, purchasing officer, or IT manager, about to invest in productivity software for your company? If you are, here's a question you should ask your supplier before you sign on the dotted line: "Just how usable is this product?" Astonishingly, most companies won't be able to answer, and those that try will answer the question only vaguely. But now help is at hand. It's called CIF. And it's about to change the game.
It's a truism that even a bad usability test will help improve your software. But the findings from different usability tests are notoriously difficult to compare. This makes it difficult to track usability improvements or to see how you compare against an earlier product. A new international standard looks set to solve this problem.
ISO is developing a new standard for web usability. The new standard will be of interest to anyone who designs, evaluates or commissions web sites and it is likely to have a significant impact in improving the overall usability of the web.
We often come across the misperception that an accessible site means an ugly site. In fact, by following standards, designers can create virtually any visual design yet still make it accessible. Just to prove it, our associate Trevor Morris carried out makeovers of nokia.com and vodafone.co.uk. Neither site met even the minimum levels of accessibility before he started. Once he had finished, both sites were "AAA" accessible. This is of enormous benefit to a disabled user — yet to a sighted user the original and "madeover" sites look virtually identical.
This year marks an important anniversary for people who moderate usability tests. In a classic study carried out exactly 30 years ago, psychologists showed that people are very poor at explaining the reasons behind their choices. This is why usability tests focus on what people do, not on what people say. So why do so many usability test moderators continue to ask participants, "Why"?
Most people that carry out usability expert reviews use Jakob Nielsen's ten usability 'heuristics'. Many of these guidelines are common sense but they are not based on substantive research. The International usability standard, BS EN-ISO 9241-110 proposes an alternative set of seven guidelines. These guidelines have the benefit of international consensus and they can be applied to any interactive system.
Discount usability techniques are a great way to eradicate usability problems. But they can never answer the question, "How usable is this system?" We blow the dust off some techniques commonly used in the early days of usability testing to see if they can provide an answer.
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