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Author: Tom Stewart
Tom Stewart is the founder of System Concepts. He was an original member of the Human Sciences and Advanced Technology (HUSAT) Research group at Loughborough University in 1970. In 1979, he joined the management consultancy Butler Cox and Partners and worked on assignments in Europe, North America and Australia where he was mainly concerned with making computer systems usable by and acceptable to non-computer staff at all levels.
He joined System Concepts in 1983, became Managing Director in 1986 and Executive Chairman in 2008 and has managed the growth of the company to become one of the largest independent ergonomics, usability and user experience consultancies in Europe. He is active in British, European and International ergonomics and usability standards and chairs the ISO committee responsible for the ergonomics of human-system interaction (including ISO 9241). Tom is a past President of the Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors.
You would not knowingly ignore 80% of the online market in the UK, would you?
Yet many websites, generally designed by younger people, forget that older consumers may not share their abilities or tastes. So their websites probably don't work as well as they should for the growing army of silver surfers.
As a senior facing yet another birthday (is it really a year since the last one?) I have six more tips to help younger designers appeal to that increasingly wealthy post-kids generation with time and money on its hands.
A recent trip to Japan got me thinking about the disadvantages of being an 'early adopter' of new products and technology, and how brands should encourage and reward those of us who get in ahead of the crowds.
Japanese technology shops are particularly fun, with blaring advertisements and garish coloured banners everywhere.
In one, I found ‘easy to drink from’ vacuum mugs in a wide range of colours with a variety of sophisticated caps and drinking spouts.
The humble black screw top I had bought in the UK was completely upstaged by these colourful, feature packed newcomers.
No, I have not suddenly started to question an approach which I have pioneered for more than three decades.
What I am doing is reflecting a discussion currently underway in the International Standards committee considering the revision of ISO 9241 part 11, which defines usability.
Don't worry, we don't intend to change the definition in any way that most people would notice. Standard-makers love arguing about fine detail, so there may be some tweaking of the wording in due course.
The core definition will remain the same but we'd welcome some input from Econsultancy's members about how we describe the outcome of using user-centred design.
User-centred design (UCD) is widely regarded as the best way to design a great user experience (UX), with most UX professionals following the international standard ISO 9241 part 210.
As project leader for this standard, I realised that some of the principles which underlie UCD can be applied to whole organisations, so I am pleased to be project leader (with Tomas Berns from Sweden) for a new ISO standard which aims to make businesses as a whole more human centred.
To encourage interest in the new standard, we have drafted an executive summary which can be downloaded and freely distributed and would welcome input from Econsultancy readers.
This new standard aims to engage the ‘hearts and minds’ of executive board level people by explicitly presenting how eight main principles of UCD can apply to organisations.
In this post I look at these eight principles and link them back to user experience with examples (good or bad) on the web.
OK, I have to admit they are not strictly secret like so called Easter Eggs, features hidden in widely used software, which the programmers think are great fun but which some of us think are a waste of our computing resources.
One notorious example was the Flight Simulator built into Excel97. Microsoft apparently banned the practice in later years as part of its trustworthy and openness initiative but they are still quite common.
No, I am talking about very useful features, which many people do not seem to know and which do not appear to be widely publicised.
There are some very simple techniques that digital marketers can use to check how accessible their communications are to people with disabilities, so I was rather surprised to receive this email from Amazon:
14 October 2011 is World Standards Daywhere the three major international standards bodies IEC, ISO and ITU celebrate the contribution that standards make to international commerce. The theme this year is ‘Creating Confidence Globally’ and it strikes me that this is particularly relevant to usability.
However, what some designers quite frequently fail to do is to apply current usability best practice or test out their products before launch. When real users find the products difficult or cumbersome to use or fail to get the desired results and stop using the product, this can come as a surprise to the unwary designer (and their bosses who see the costs of their investment rising and the benefits diminishing).