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International Standards for Usability Should Be More Widely Used

Nigel Bevan

Journal of Usability Studies, Volume 4, Issue 3, May 2009, pp. 106-113

Article Contents


Different Types of International Standards

One of the main purposes of international standards is to impose consistency, compatibility, and safety. An example is standards to ensure that a cell phone will accept your SIM card, produce transmissions that are compatible with the cell networks, and not create radiation that would be dangerous to you. What about usability? The user interface of some cell phones seems unnecessarily complex. How many of the functions of your cell phone do you know how to use? Is this an area where international standards could help? While we as consumers may become frustrated, many manufacturers regard this as a design issue open for market competition.

How can one create standards for usability where there are so few absolutes? We all know that usability depends on the context of use, design environment, resources constraints, importance of usability, etc. International standards have resolved these problems in different ways in different areas. Each of the four areas below is discussed in more detail in the following sections.

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