Mar 30, 2020

ISO Design Standards

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Although web design is definitely a creative field, but there are rules for everything, and experts should follow them. The creation of prototypes, applications, sites and in general the work of designers is also standardized. This was done by the International Organization for Standardization or ISO. Today we look at the basic design standards that the organization has defined.

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What is ISO and what does it do

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is the world’s largest developer and publisher of international standards. It is a network of national standards organizations in 163 countries. The organization’s central secretariat is located in Geneva, Switzerland. It coordinates the entire system.

Standards make a significant contribution to most aspects of our lives. They determine how products and services should be developed, manufactured, and delivered. And most importantly, the standards ensure the efficiency and safety of each stage.

When products and services meet the requirements, we take it for granted and do not think about what role the standards played in this. And when there are no standards, the user very quickly notices it. We begin to worry when we are offered products of poor quality, they don’t suit us, are incompatible with equipment, or, worse, unreliable or dangerous. Therefore, the main goal of ISO is to create optimal requirements for products and services that the whole world will adhere to.

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Principles of human-centered design

ISO offers designers six basic principles that help create the right product in terms of benefits for people and teamwork. The full name of the UX standard is “Ergonomics of human-system interaction in accordance with ISO 9241”.

1. The project should be based on a precise definition of the user, his tasks and the environment.

During design development, it is necessary to take into account all aspects that relate to the project. That is, designers need to know who its users are, what tasks they will solve and in what conditions. Design, in this case, is performed based not on assumptions, but on the data obtained as a result of research. The context of use is critical to correctly identifying system requirements. For example, interfaces for different purposes will be significantly different from each other, even if both cases have the same user.

2. Users should be involved in design and development. 

Involving users in the development process allows you to get the necessary information about the context of use, tasks and how successful the product will be accepted by users after the release. The nature and frequency of engagement will depend on the type of project.

3. The design should be based on user feedback.

The project should be implemented and finalized with the help of an assessment from users. The opinion of the audience determines the key points for creating an effective product. Thus, designers minimize the risks that the future product will not meet the requirements of users and/or organizations. 

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4. The process should be iterative.

This means that the work is carried out in parallel with the continuous analysis of the results obtained and the adjustment of the previous stages of work. This approach makes it possible to minimize risks and create a product that will meet the users’ requirements. It is impossible to predict in advance which of the design decisions will be the most successful. Accordingly, such iterations should be included both in the project schedule and in the budget.

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5. The design should fully cover the user experience

Design is aimed at creating a holistic user experience. It is the result of the presentation, functionality, system performance, the interaction behavior and assistive capabilities of an interactive system, both in terms of hardware and software. UX should include previous user experience, as well as their worldview, skills, habits, capabilities and limitations, preferences and expectations.

6. The project team should be multidisciplinary and promising

Everything is simple here — the wider the general outlook of the development team, the greater the chance of the project success. It is necessary to select team members from different areas so that a variety of skills, experience, and views can be used for the benefit of the project.

According to the ISO committee, these principles complement existing approaches and can be incorporated into various project management methodologies, such as Scram or Waterfall. The design should be focused on the user’s relationship with his environment and should lead to the most natural interaction. Using basic methods, you can expand the audience of users, improve the brand image, create simple and convenient products.

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Final words

UX is developing rapidly. This means more competition in the market. Working to an international standard can provide a competitive advantage. If you can demonstrate knowledge and understanding of ISO 9241, it will distinguish you from other designers. Having become familiar with the standards, you can successfully use the experience of world experts in your projects. In addition, the use of ISO standards can significantly improve the interaction of team members, because they can “speak the same language.”

As you can see, the ISO 9241 standard provides the basis for team collaboration, the creation of sophisticated products and process management as part of Human-Centered Design. Moreover, the approach is quite abstract and can be applied in almost any company and project.