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I'm establishing a new UX unit in our organization, and whenever I try to introduce something, I get asked about "standards". You know, questions like "So do you have any standards that you based this on?".

I've been in this field for a few years, and I don't remember seeing any "standard" that everyone is supposed to follow. I've seen design patterns, which could be seen as kind of a standard, but even those might differ from library to library.

So, are there any standards that we all are supposed to follow? If not, what references should I use to base my work (in front of them at least).

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The key standards are the one you and your UX team use. Ideally they're based on industry knowledge, experience and, ultimately, user testing and field data. –  DA01 Jan 24 '11 at 23:01
I've also had these ongoing requests for 'standards' - I think it comes up if you're dealing with part of a business which is very 'standards' driven. –  PhillipW May 20 '12 at 18:48
These people have some information on'ISO' type standards: system-concepts.com/usability/usability-standards.html –  PhillipW May 20 '12 at 18:55
You know, every time you're asked that question you could say, "let me get back to you." Then you could write a blog post, sum up the problem and your solution, referencing your past work and the work or research of others. Then present them with your new article the following day. As a side benefit, you'd become a prolific blogger in no time. –  Steve Wortham May 22 '12 at 20:43
I am hoping that there are some new answers to this question... if not then I think a bounty might be due for this. –  Michael Lai Jul 31 '14 at 0:25

4 Answers 4

up vote 8 down vote accepted

They are asking one question, but they mean another. What they mean is: I don't trust you. Can you show me that someone else said this? Someone who published a book or study or something?

Engineers have ancient tomes that describe programming patterns and standards. They would like design to be the same. They want to see you have read books. Get a stack of the right books and put them on your desk. Psychology, human factors, design, etc. Any book to make them trust you have been educated by big brains. The $300 expense will be well worth it.

You might even want to read them. ;)

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I don't trust you. Can you show me that someone else said this? Someone who published a book or study or something? - That's a fair question for engineers. Engineering isn't by recipe either, but you are right that it's easier to walk forward from where you stand. –  peterchen Jan 24 '11 at 22:26

This mini-paper lists some related ISO standards.

Most usability measures can be tracked back to reducing Cognitive Load for the user. IMO reading up about that is more valuable than reading above standards, as it allows to evaluate new ideas.

There are some processes (rather, guidelines) how to develop the UX, e.g. User-centric design.

IMHO software UX is affected by a general problem in software development: there is a significant gap between research and practice. As developers we trust the opinions of some bloggers more than the outcome of a study.

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I agree, though feel that it's OK to trust experienced people as well. Sadly, the rest of the world speaks 'data' so for a UX team to truly influence the corporation, data is needed. –  DA01 Jan 24 '11 at 23:02

I have found the information at http://usability.gov (fully contained in this PDF document) to be very helpful as it is based on empirical research and was reviewed by numerous respectable members of the CS and UX communities. It is comprehensive and about as close to "standard" as I've seen in any documentation on the subject.

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Most organizations of any size will need a style-guide or set of standards to reference. This need becomes more dire in direct proportion to the number of people working on an interface/product/publication. More hands = more different ways of doing things.

As the new head of UX, you are in a unique position to define the style and standards for your company. Do your research, and present a set of best practices codified in a style-guide in a series of workshops. Workshops should include anyone who has a hand in building your product -- developers, designers, engineers, copy editors and even marketing people. Get consensus; listen to what your constituents have to say. Then post your revised style-guide for all to see. It will be law -- or at least it will be referred to as the interface is built and you will have a more consistent product to show for it.

Here are some places to start: https://www.gov.uk/designprinciples




Good luck

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