Exceptional user experience by design: Crownpeak DQM excels in new ISO audit

Nicola Thompson
By Nicola Thompson
October 13, 2015

Crownpeak DQM (formerly ActiveStandards) ranked as “excellent” in a new benchmark against the internationally recognized standard for user-centered design - ISO 9241-210. Nicola Thompson, Lead UX Designer, lifts the hood on our pioneering user-centered design program.

About the ISO 9241-210

User centered design process

This summer, we became the first company ever to be systematically reviewed against the recognized international standard for best practices in user-centered design. The ISO (the International Organization for Standardization) publishes an international standard of requirements for user-centered design: ISO 9241-210. This standard provides recommendations for human-centered design principles and activities throughout the life cycle of computer-based interactive systems with the goal of enhancing human-system interaction.

While this standard has been in place for five years, there previously has not been a means for assessing a company’s user-centered design activities against the benchmarks of this standard. Recently, however, Systems Concepts, a consultancy here in London whose founder was instrumental in developing the standard, have developed a pilot framework for a user-centered design process assessment. This allows an organization to be assessed against the key principles of ISO 9241-210.

As Systems Concepts have worked with us in the past and recognize our own high standards focus, they invited us to participate in this pilot by having Crownpeak be the first subject of this audit, which took place this summer 2015.

How did we do?

We’re very excited by the results, which have been a great validator of the new User-Centered Design program we initiated last year. The review showed excellence across all of the core testing criteria with an average score of 80%, and especially high scores in the areas of evaluation (89%), planning (92%), and design (83%). These results demonstrate that our user-centered design processes closely match the international standard. Of course, it was great to receive this validation for the intensive efforts we have made to date. But moreover, it significantly demonstrates the high-quality user experience our clients can expect from the Crownpeak DQM platform.

Why was Crownpeak DQM selected to pilot the new ISO audit?

Of course, as a company specializing in digital governance and compliance solutions, a standards-based approach always has been very important to us. We’ve been working with Systems Concepts for some time, and they knew we would immediately recognize the value of their new ISO review framework. Let me share with you what Catherine Earing, a principal consultant at System Concepts, said about the review:

“We’ve always found that the team at Crownpeak fully embraced user experience research and so they fitted the bill for our pilot perfectly. They are working hard to ensure that they keep focused on the users as they develop their services. Their team has gone a long way to organize their product development to incorporate the principles of user-centered design and usability best practice.”

How did we achieve these results?

The usability of our software platform has always been very important to us as an organization. We want new users to be able to pick up the system easily without lengthy training, while our regular users get the data they need as quickly and easily as possible. In short, from the first moment a user encounters our platform, we want the experience of their journey to be superb.

Some 18 months ago we decided to step up our user-centered design focus through the creation of a dedicated User Experience department. By formalizing the user-centered design process, we wanted to enhance this experience even further.

User centred design planning process

Embedding UX into the product development lifecycle

In recent months, we’ve made an even greater investment in embedding a user-centered design approach right through the product development lifecycle. Obviously, the technology underpinning our platform is geared to demanding enterprise environments and is highly flexible and robust; however, we want to overlay that engineering with an exceptional user experience, which is where we are systemizing our effort to better understand the evolving nature of what our users want, and then delivering that to them. The fact that you don’t notice how easy our product is to use reflects exactly how much work we do to make it so!

As a part of our Agile development process, we make extensive use of user feedback to make rapid and regular usability improvements to the interface. For qualitative input, we engage with our users though user testing sessions, mock-up reviews, and surveys to get their feedback and ideas. In gathering quantitative data, we use Google Analytics intensively in tracking every client interaction on the platform. In particular this allows us to identify areas for improvement and measure the impact of new features and changes. Based on the recent feedback we’ve received from user engagement, we are clearly operating in the vanguard of user-focused design processes.

What’s next?

We’re not resting on our ISO laurels! The audit has also shown us areas where there’s scope to improve. We’re already taking steps to link our processes more closely to our business roadmap to ensure we are not only on the right path, but the best path.

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