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Why UX Should Be Aligned With International Design Standards

Design is influenced by personal tastes or an opinion

While working with other more scientific disciplines, this often leads to criticism and a lack of credibility for UX practitioners. Fortunately, you may simply bridge the gap by referring to international standards.

Today, we have a window of opportunity with the new ISO 9241-110 update, which is a relatively short document and perhaps the simplest standard to grasp and implement in the UX design area.

What are International Standards?

ISO with its full name shown on a table

International standards are created by expert committees that individually represent relevant organizations, and their standards are shared with the public for criticism and improvement. They are then published as objective standards, indicating that they were created by people and for people. The many national standards bodies around the world then normally adopt these standards.

When we buy groceries, plug in a toaster, or fill up a car with gas, we employ international standards all the time. All of these experiences are based on systems and products that adhere to industry standards for safety, consistency, accessibility, and usability. Consider what would happen if there were no standards for food quality or electrical safety.

The goals of UX practitioners are matched with the ISO 9241 Standard for the Ergonomics of Human-System Interaction. It helps in making educated design decisions and also acts as a spokesperson for the user experience role in product development.

In this article, we’ll learn about the three primary reasons why this standard is important for your UX practice.

ISO 9241-110:2020 Ergonomics of human-system interaction — Part 110: Interaction principles

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is responsible for creating standards (ISO). They are compiled by a group of industry volunteers and then made public for comment before being finalized. As a result, the ISO 9241 heuristics represent an international consensus on best practices and are supported by research. What is the standard’s definition of the principles?

These 7 basic discussion questions from ISO 9241 can help you with your next heuristic evaluation.

Self-descriptiveness: Is it clear what a user should do next after hearing the dialogue? “A conversation is self-descriptive in the sense that users can always tell which dialogue they are in, where they are in the dialogue, and what actions can be taken next.”
Conformity with user expectations: Is there a logical flow to the conversation? “If a dialogue is in line with the user’s predictable contextual demands and universally accepted norms, it conforms to user expectations.”
Suitability for learning: Is the conversation conducive to learning? “When a dialogue guides the user in learning to utilize the system, it is suitable for learning.”
Controllability: Can the user control the interaction’s pace and sequence? “When the user can begin and manage the direction and pace of the engagement until the goal is achieved, that is when a dialogue is controlled.”
Error tolerance: Is the dialogue forgiving of mistakes? “A dialogue is error-tolerant if, despite obvious input errors, the intended outcome can be obtained with no or minimal user intervention.” To cope with errors, damage control, error rectification, or error management are used to achieve error tolerance.”
Suitability for individualization: Can the discourse be tailored to the user’s preferences? “When users can change the interaction and display of information to suit their capabilities and needs, a dialogue is capable of individualization.”

How ISO standards and UX are closely aligned?

ISO is a collaboration of approximately 160 national standards organizations. It is the world’s largest and most collaborative organization of its kind. So far, it has developed almost 20,000 standards.
It’s important to note that ISO 9241 is a separate set of standards. It does not specifically mention UX, but it does mention human-centered design, usability, accessibility, and user satisfaction measurement.

In the 1980s, ISO 9241 was created to address “Ergonomic Requirements for Office Work with Visual Display Terminals.” The scope of ISO 9241 has expanded substantially over time. It was known as ISO 13407 until 2010 when it was renamed ISO 9241-210 to align it with ISO’s other usability standards.

Although not all of the standards are directly relevant to UX practice, many of them are nevertheless thought-provoking and could help you better your approach in any situation. This is where we recommend you start if you want to learn about the most important UX standards:
Human-Centred Design for Interactive Systems, ISO 9241-210:2010 This is a standard that covers the high-level concepts that make valuable human-centered design possible.

When compared to the one supplied by WCAG 2.0, ISO 9241-171:2008 Guidance on Software Accessibility presents an alternative perspective.
Usability Test Reports in ISO/IEC 25062 Common Industry Format While this isn’t part of the ISO 9241 advice, it does refer to it and builds on some of its ideas.

The user experience in six key principles: ISO 9241-210

● Users, tasks, and the settings in which they operate should all be explicitly understood before design begins.
● Throughout the design and development process, users must be involved.
● User-centered evaluation should drive and develop the design.
● It is an iterative design approach.
● The entire user experience must be considered in the design.
● Multidisciplinary talents and viewpoints should be included in design teams.

The UX field’s justification can be summarized in six simple phrases. Design should be a collaborative and inter-disciplinary endeavor from start to finish. To achieve the best results, teams should include people with a variety of backgrounds and perspectives. UX is a broad term that encompasses far more than what is first visible.

Iteration is what makes user research, design, development, and assessment work together for the best results.
Three of these principles mention users; we must never forget who we are designing for.

The field of user experience (UX) is developing and changing. That means there will be increased competition for jobs. If you can show that you know and comprehend ISO 9241, it will help you stand out from the crowd.

It’s a trusted source of information that informs design decisions, as well as a powerful sales and advocacy tool. ISO 9241 allows you to stand on the shoulders of giants – the numerous industry professionals who gave their time and efforts to develop the ISO standards as the most well-researched and widely endorsed standardization instrument.