What is ISO 9241?

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ISO standards or International Organisation for Standardisation Standards that are put together by various representatives of national standards organisations promoting a list of worldwide industrial and commercial standards. International standards are absolutely everywhere nowadays but let’s focus on one and how it can improve your UX.

ISO 9241: Ergonomics of human-system interaction. This is a standard that UX professionals use to stand out and give them a distinct advantage, usually achieving this through adopting and conforming to international best practice.

ISO 9241-11 [6]: “The extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of use”.

Usability in this sense is closely related and aligned to business goals such as effectiveness, efficiency and safety which have a direct correlation with profitability for systems used and satisfaction of use, especially use of web sites.

This standard is not goal specific and is left to be interpreted very differently by stakeholders’ perspectives which may lead to conflicts of interest especially where the end users, management and staff have different goals.

The key element in this ISO’s definition is satisfaction which generally involves assessing the effectiveness and efficiency of the product on the end user by covering the whole user experience.

The user goals are:

  • Acceptable perceived experience of product use
  • Acceptable perceived results of use
  • Acceptable perceived consequences of use
  • Stimulation
  • Identification / self-expression
  • Evocation
  • Pleasurable emotions

The end goal of measuring this user experience is to obtain a greater knowledge of users’ needs and wants to improve the product’s overall user experience but at the same time we need to base our findings on a previous product version or similar systems or else somehow measuring this experience without a computer aided system.


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