Assess usability capability


Use the usability maturity model contained in ISO TR 18529 to identify the capability of an organisation to apply user centred design methods, and areas for potential improvement.


  • Identifies any gaps in an organisation's capability to apply user centred design.
  • Can also be used as part of a SPICE assessment of software capability.



  • The assessor must obtain a copy of, and be familiar with, the usability maturity model contained in ISO TR 18529 (see below).


  • Review the seven categories of user centred processes
    1. Ensure UCD content in system strategy (5 processes)
    2. Plan and manage the UCD process (8 processes)
    3. Specify stakeholder and organisational requirements (6 processes)
    4. Understand and specify the context of use (5 processes)
    5. Produce design solutions (8 processes)
    6. Evaluate designs against requirements (6 processes)
    7. Introduce and operate the system (6 processes)
  • Decide if they are all relevant
  • Timetable a one day workshop attended by people knowledgeable in each area being assessed

Process improvement workshop

  • Review each process in detail.
  • Score each process as: Not, Partly, Largely or Fully performed.
  • Note whether the process is managed (a documented part of normal procedures)
  • Establish a target level for each process on the same scales.Reporting
  • Document for each process the current and desired levels, whether it is managed and the suggested action (if any).

More information

More information can be found in: Usability Maturity ModelJonathan Earthy (1998). The Nigel Bevan.

The ISO Technical Report: ISO TR 18529 (2000) "Human-centred lifecycle process descriptions" is available from ISO.

See the TRUMP case studies.

Next steps

Agree a process improvement plan to help the organisation increase its capability for processes where improvement is required. This is most easily achieved by someone experienced in user centred design methods demonstrating how to apply them to a real project.

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