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Project: Certification of Usability Professionals

Proposed Competencies for Certification

Summary drafted by Nigel Bevan for the Usability Certification Working Group

The proposed competencies for a Usability Professional have been derived from ISO 13407, ISO TR 18529 and the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA). It is proposed that professional status is achieved at Level 4 from SFIA:

  • Autonomy
    Works under general direction within a clear framework of accountability. Substantial personal responsibility and autonomy. Plans own work, to meet given objectives and processes.
  • Influence
    Influences team, and specialist peers internally. Influences customers at account level and suppliers. Some responsibility for work of others and allocation of resources. Participates in external activities related to specialization. Decisions influence success of projects and team objectives.
  • Complexity
    Broad range of complex technical or professional work activities in a variety of contexts.
  • Business Skills
    Selects appropriately from applicable standards, methods, tools. Demonstrates analytic and systematic approach to problem solving. Communicates fluently orally and in writing. Is able to plan, schedule and monitor work activities in order to meet time and quality targets. Is able to absorb rapidly new technical information and apply it effectively. Good appreciation of wider field and how it relates to the business activities of client. Takes some responsibility for personal development.


These competencies are grouped into five areas of activities.

1. Plan and manage the human-centered design process

Competency: Specify how human-centred activities fit into the system development process.

1.1 Identify and plan stakeholder and user involvement
1.2 Select human-centred methods and techniques
1.3 Provide human-centred design support for other processes

2. Understand and specify user and organisational requirements and context of use

Competency: Establish the requirements of the user organisation and other interested parties for the system; taking full account of the needs, competencies and working environment of each relevant stakeholder in the system. Identify, clarify and record context of use in which the system will operate.

2.1 Clarify and document system goals
2.2 Analyse stakeholders
2.3 Assess risk to stakeholders
2.4 Identify, document and analyse the context of use
2.5 Define the use of the system
2.6 Generate the stakeholder, user and organisational requirements
2.7 Set usability objectives

3. Produce design solutions

Competency: Create potential design solutions by drawing on established state-of-the-art practice, the experience and knowledge of the participants and the results of the context of use analysis.

3.1 Allocate functions
3.2 Produce composite task model
3.3 Explore system design
3.4 Use existing knowledge to develop design solutions
3.5 Specify system and use
3.6 Develop prototypes

4. Evaluate designs against usability requirements

Competency: Collect feedback on the developing design. This feedback will be collected from end users and other representative sources.

4.1 Specify and validate context of evaluation
4.2 Evaluate early prototypes in order to define and evaluate the requirements for the system
4.3 Evaluate prototypes in order to improve the design
4.4 Evaluate the system in order to check that the stakeholder and organisational requirements have been met
4.5 Evaluate the system in order to check that the required practice has been followed
4.6 Evaluate the system in use in order to ensure that it continues to meet organisational and user needs

5. Demonstrate professional skills

Competency: Enables HCD to be done in the organisation through working at a professional level

5.1 A degree of autonomy in the control of their own work.
5.2 Having some influence on other people, a project or an organisation
5.3 Cope with a degree of complexity (intricacy or complication) in their work
5.4 Understanding of and skill in role within the working and professional environment


  • ISO 13407 (1999) User centred design process for interactive systems.
  • ISO TR 18529 (2000) Ergonomics of human system interaction - Human-centred lifecycle process descriptions.
  • Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA).

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