I have recently returned from an international standards meeting in Washington (and that is a story in itself – I nearly had to fly without my laptop and Treo – aargh!) where we were discussing the revision of the human centred design standard ISO 13407.

This standard is widely regarded as the authoritative statement of user centred design and most usability consultants and practitioners (System Concepts included) refer to it in some form.  

When ISO originally published the standard in 1999, we were hoping that it would be used by project managers to help ensure that the systems they design and develop are usable in practice. We were pleased that it has been so well received in the US, where it has been influential in the development of usability reporting standards (which have now been adopted by ISO) and in Japan.

In the UK, it has been recommended in government guidelines for websites and information systems and is also referenced in PAS 78, a BSI guide to specifying accessible websites. 

It is now time for it to be revised and, as Project Editor (again), I have a strong sense of ‘if it’s not broken don’t fix it’. But I do want to improve it, so, in the best traditions of human centred design, we are asking for input from stakeholders ie anyone with an interest. 

I’d really like to know how you use it, what you would like to keep, what to ditch and what to add. I am determined that it remains one of the slimmest International Standards so there will be some tough decisions to be made when our working group next meet to plan the drafting project.

We would really appreciate your comments so you can add them here and/or send them to me at Tom@system-concepts.com.

Even if you just want it to stay as it is, please let me know.


Tom Stewart is Joint Managing Director of System Concepts , a usability and accessibility consultancy.

Tom Stewart

Published 26 September, 2006 by Tom Stewart

Tom Stewart is Executive Chairman at System Concepts, and a guest blogger at Econsultancy. System Concepts can be followed on Twitter here, and Tom is also on Google+.

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Comments (2)

Paul Walsh

Paul Walsh, CEO at Segala

Hi Tom,

This is good timing. Wouldn’t it be great if search engines and browsers could distinguish between sites that employ these best practices and sites that don’t. Taking it a step further, wouldn’t it be even better if users could choose to only see the sites that employ best practices in search results. Well, this is very likely to happen and I’ll explain why.

Currently, there is a W3C initiative which is creating user profiles based on users’ accessibility needs. WCAG levels don’t represent user profiles. These user profiles will be represented in metadata format. This too will be an ISO standard. http://dublincore.org/

This is the same type of metadata that the Segala Trustmark includes to help search engines and browsers highlight sites that claim to be accessible.

Conformance to the W3C Mobile Web Initiative best practices may not have a ‘visual’ trustmark like WCAG. Instead you will use what’s called a Content Label (metadata). This will enable mobile search engines to find and display only mobileOK sites. This will ensure that the user experience is a pleasurable one.

I’m familiar with the above as Segala helped to create the vocabulary & schema for the Content Label and it’s the first company worldwide to use it to highlight accessible Web sites. Incidentally, the Content Label is being proposed by W3C members as a replacement of the current method used by Internet Explorer for filtering content.

Segala is also co-editor of the mobileOK conformance document with Google and ICRA so I’m familiar with progress on that.

FYI: We have a non-commercial browser extension that demonstrates how users can select preferences to filter out (including sponsored results!) everything that’s not claiming to be accessible using the Segala Trustmark. It also filters out sites that don’t claim to be child friendly using the ICRA Content Label. It’s one of very few extensions that’s signed by VeriSign so it’s not just another plugin.

To find out more about the user profiles email Liddy Nevile. Liddy was responsible for getting Australia involved in the W3C. liddy@SUNRISERESEARCH.ORG

I’m sorry for the long response but I always feel the need to justify how and why I believe search engines and browsers will allow users to identify sites based on a new form of metadata.

Hope this helps


Do you design, build or test Web sites?
Join the Segala-Certified Affiliate Programme for Accessibility
Charter Membership extended until 31st October 2006

almost 12 years ago


stuart matthews, Usability Analyst at VKI Studios

This website on the whole is very good. Works just fine in IE. However there several problems with the site. In Firefox (with 80 million users/15% of of the market) pages load with no content (http://www.mitsubishicars.com/MMNA/jsp/build.do), a link from a photograph takes you Google home page in a new window. And several pages refuse to load (http://www.mitsubishicars.com/MMNA/jsp/limitedEditions.do) showing an error message of "[ServletException in:/jsp/specialoffers/xxx.specialoffers.content.jsp] null'"

almost 12 years ago

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