Volume 14, Issue 3, May 2019
This paper outlines some of the most important of Nigel Bevan’s many contributions to the evolution of the changing concept of usability and in particular to Nigel’s input into, and leadership of, the development of usability-related international standards. It traces the concept of usability from the very early days when the focus of human-computer interaction (HCI) was predominantly on hardware ergonomics in the context of office work, through the much wider, more recent, concepts of designing for user experience, and finally designing for high quality human experience. It also presents the history as well as several freely available resources for usability professionals outlining what usability is nowadays, how it can and should be measured, and criteria for designing to support people of all ages and abilities. Finally, it acknowledges Nigel’s long-standing involvement in the UXPA, culminating in him being posthumously honored with the UXPA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018.
As the title says, this is a personal tribute to the unique Nigel Bevan focusing on his role as project editor of the highly influential, original International Standard on usability ISO 9241–Part 11: Usability: Definitions and Concepts published in 1998.
A personal memorial to Nigel Bevan’s work in standardization, usability, and ISO standards for UX and for usability professionals. Standards themselves are created to provide requirements, specifications, guidelines, or characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that materials, products, processes, and services are fit for their purpose. Knowing the context of use enables the setting of such requirements, application of guidelines, and measurement of usability. Nigel Bevan was a champion for the formalization and definition of usability, safety, and accessibility (quality in use) as important to software intensive systems and was later involved in the definition of human-centered design processes. He thus brought together different strands of such human-centered design—previously treated as distinct—in ergonomics and systems software. Some of his major achievements and interventions in influential ergonomics standards are listed and discussed as is his legacy in quality in use implications for the design process for all products, systems, services, and organizations. A short section on personal reminiscences concludes the memorial.
This article summarizes what it was like to work on standards with Nigel Bevan in two working groups of ISO/TC159. I hope it gives those who never had an opportunity to work with Nigel some idea of the contributions he made and some of the reasons he was such an important guiding force in the area of usability and, especially, user experience.
Through the standardization of ISO 13407:1999, I became acquainted with Nigel Bevan at ISO TC159/SC4/WG6 meetings. During those meetings and at various conferences (including UPA, now UXPA, and HCI International), we discussed the concept of satisfaction, usability, and later, UX. The model of quality characteristics that I proposed in 2015 (Figure 1) had become the core of our discussion. In the model, the quality in design and the quality in use are distinguished, and the objective quality and the subjective quality are also distinguished, thus forms four quality domains. The concept of usability is included in the objective quality in design whereas the concept of UX is related to the whole of quality in use. Furthermore, the effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction (sub-concepts of usability in ISO 9241-11) are separated to objective quality and subjective quality.
Nigel showed a strong interest in my model and asked me to send him a copy of the article. He just sent me back a revised proposal of the figure, and we continued to discuss the structure of quality, especially its implication to the UX. We also focused our discussion on the concept of satisfaction especially in its relation to UX. Nigel was very interested in the concept of Kansei in relation to satisfaction. He invited me to organize a workshop “Kansei Engineering and Emotion Design – a Research Agenda” at the KEER 2018 conference that was held in Kuching, Malaysia. It was a successful workshop, but after the conference, he went to hiking in the northern mountain area where he passed away.
This article tells a story that reveals 20 years of friendship and collaboration between Nigel and the author in the backdrop of the early enlightenment of usability engineering in China. Nigel’s contributions to the now thriving UX practice in this important part of the world are highlighted in this article as well.
In Nigel Bevan’s unexpected death, the UX community lost a friend, colleague, and tireless advocate for the formalization of global UX standards. This personal and professional remembrance provides an overview of Nigel’s career, his uniquely significant contributions to ISO and other UX standards, his contributions as a UPA / UXPA advisory board member, and how his colleagues, friends, and family remember him.