CN08 - Assessing Usability Capability using ISO Standards

Nigel Bevan, Professional Usability Services

Participants will become familiar with the ISO 18529 model for human centered design, and learn how to use this to identify areas where an organization needs to improve its usability capability. The approach can be used informally for process improvement, or for more formal assessments of usability capability.

ISO TR 18529 "Human-centred lifecycle process descriptions" contains a detailed set of human centered activities derived from ISO 13407 that are potentially needed to implement human centered design in systems development.

Each ISO 18529 activity can be assessed as not done, partially done, or fully done and managed, as part of systems development. This can be carried out relatively informally in a process improvement workshop, or as part of a more formal process assessment of usability capability (analogous to the software process assessment that can be carried out using the SEI CMM - Capability Maturity Model).

This information enables an organization to decide how much improvement is desirable in particular areas, or on an activity-by-activity basis. Case studies will be presented of a formal usability process assessment of an IT department, and of a simple one-day workshop that provided the basis for process improvement at an aerospace company.

This course was first given at CHI 2007.


  • Review of alternative approaches to usability process improvement
  • The ISO 18529 model of human centered design activities
  • How to conduct a usability process improvement workshop
  • Assessment of usability capability
  • Case studies

Anyone who has some responsibility for user centered design in their organization, or who would like to make a case for improving their organizational capability. Basic familiarity with the area of user centered design is assumed, but no prior knowledge of ISO standards is needed.

Lecture and group discussion.

Instructor Background:
Nigel Bevan is an independent consultant with wide industrial experience, who is also a research fellow at the University of York. He has contributed to many international standards, and is editor of the new version of the ISO standard for usability methods supporting human-centered design. He was a member of the National Academy of Science Committee on Human-System Design Support for Changing Technology. He has a chapter providing a framework for cost benefits in Cost-Justifying Usability: An Update for the Internet Age (Bias and Mayhew, 2005).

More information:
A discussion group with resources to support the course has been established at so that participants can share experience of applying the principles.