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  • ISO 9241 110 Ergonomics of Human System Interaction Part 110 Interaction Principles

In this article, "ISO 9241 110 Ergonomics of Human System Interaction Part 110 Interaction Principles", we will discuss the importance of taking advantage of the international standards in the field of UX and design.

As UX practitioners and UX designers, we can definitely improve the quality and reliability of work if we familiarize ourselves with these international standards of ergonomics of human system interaction principles.

The updated ISO 9241 110 Ergonomics of human system is a short document on interactive system and arguably the easiest standard to understand that we can all start implementing and using in the field of UX such as interactive system or interaction principles related.

In this article about human system interaction, we will discuss the following user interfaces and interactive system sub-topics:

What are international standards that involves the user and interactive system?

In general terms, international standards are drawn up by committees of experts who represent each of the organizations concerned, and their standards are shared with the public for feedback and improvement.

They are then published as objective standards, so they are basically written by the people for the people. These standards are generally adopted by various national standards bodies around the world.

We always use international standards everywhere-- in food items we eat, in cars we drive, or in household appliances that we use. All of these experiences rely on standards-compliant products and systems to ensure security, consistency, accessibility, and ease of use. Imagine if there were no standards for food production quality or safety critical systems. The world would not be a better place without these standards!

ISO 9241 is a set of more than 40 individual standards that apply to UX user interface designers as they deal with human system interaction with interactive systems. Different parts of the ISO 9241 update come at different times and there are a lot of things to consider if you are just starting out, so in this article on interactive systems, we will focus on just one updated document document describes principles currently approved by standardization bodies in each country.

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The updated ISO 9241-110:2020

The official title of the standard is ISO 9241-110:2020 Ergonomics of Human System Interactions- Dialogue Principles of ergonomics of human system interaction interaction and was brought together by a committee called PH9, which includes representatives from the Institute of Ergonomics of of human system, the UK Association of Usability Professionals, and many others working in the field of human system interaction or user engagement.

In a nutshell, the standard is a 65-point checklist of recommendations for evaluating interactive systems, including websites and applications.

This standard is perfect for expert usability assessments. Think of it as a more formal and detailed alternative to Jakob Nielsen's heuristic dialogue principles (the standard actually references Nielsen as well as Bruce "Tog" Tognazzini).

Each of the 65 points is explained with (appropriate) notes and examples not limited to web interfaces, as this standard and principle applies to all interactive systems. So don't be surprised when you read about physical systems like ticket machines and elevators or any interactive systems.

In this new update replacing the 2006 standard, they changed the name from "Dialogue Principles" to "Dialogue Principles of ergonomics of human system interaction ". Many points have changed or updated but are not different from the old version, so anyone who knows this will still recognize the new one in interactive systems.

The 65 points of Dialogue Principles of Ergonomics of Human System Interaction Interaction

The 65 points are not just presented in one big list, they are divided into sections and start with 7 key dialogue principles:

These 7 dialogue principles are to a similar extent to the experience of Jakob Nielsen. They are generic and extensive, but a good start nonetheless. Each is defined, for example, the ability to learn is defined as:

"The interactive systems and ergonomics of human system that support discovery of its capabilities and how to use them, enables discovery of the interactive systems, minimizes the need for learning, and provides support when learning is needed."

7 Principles defined

These 7 dialogue principles of the ergonomics of human system are then divided into sets of recommendations. The 7 dialogue principles are:

Suitability for task

1. Suitability for the task

The dialog principles are relevant to the task when it assists the user in performing the task efficiently and effectively.

Suitability for learning

2. Suitability for learning

The dialogue principles are self-describing when each step of the dialogue is immediately understandable through system feedback or explained to the user on demand.

Suitability for individualization

3. Suitability for individualization

The dialogue principles are controllable as the user can initiate and control the direction and speed of the ergonomics of human system interaction part to the point where the goal is reached.

Conformity with user expectations

4. Conformity with user expectations

The dialogue principles or interaction principles match user expectations when it is consistent and consistent with user characteristics, such as knowledge of the task, education, experience, and generally accepted conventions. receive.

Self descriptiveness

5. Self descriptiveness

The dialog principles or interaction principles are fault tolerant if, despite an obvious input error, it is possible to achieve the expected result without the user needing or taking very little ergonomics of human system interaction part.


Controllability (if applicable, i.e. in desktop or web applications)

The dialogue principles can be personalized and the user interfaces software can be modified to suit the needs of the interactive system task, personal preferences, and skills of the user.

Error Tolerance

Error tolerance (if applicable, i.e. in systems accommodating free form user input)

The dialogue principles are suitable for learning as they support and guide the user and interactive system.


Those 7 dialogue principles are then split into sets of recommendations. This is where we start to see greater detail, such as in the dialogue principles of “Use error robustness.”  The sections are:

  • Recommendations related to use error avoidance

  • Recommendations related to use error tolerance

  • Recommendations related to use error recovery

So we've covered it in more detail, but these sections are divided into 65 points. These points cover things like first impressions, aesthetics, accessibility, and responsiveness. They even include some aspects related to dark patterns, such as, which says, “Avoid defaults, where they can mislead the user and interactive system or development process.”

Here are some more examples to give you an idea:

  • Indicate the progress of completing the task

  • Present information in a way that clearly shows which UI elements interact and which UI elements do not

  • Present information using vocabulary familiar to the user and interactive system

As you can see, this is pretty standard stuff, but note that it's not meant to do everything everywhere. For example, accessibility is a recommendation but does not attempt to replace WCAG; it simply indicates that the system will be available to the most users. This gives way to additional testing on the same site or on user system interaction represents for accessibility etc using user interface development tools.

Why isn't everyone already using it?

Good question. Based on experience, the two main barriers to its use: One is knowing it exists, and second is having to pay for it.

That's really it. I'm sure many people don't want to use it even after reading it. If you can get past these two hurdles, I'm pretty sure you'll become a fan or at least find a way to use it in your work.

Wrapping it up

You have already passed the first hurdle by reading this article, so you are left with only one barrier. You are half way there! Nothing makes me happier than listing all 65 recommendations here, but the real challenge you will need to overcome is outside this article.

Some ergonomics of human system interaction standards agencies allow you to rent the material for a small fee, but if you want to keep it, the price is usually around $100, so you might ask yourself, why bother reasing and using these standards?

I tend to think of this question the other way around. Why not use standards? This is not simply a matter of shifting the burden of proof, since by definition, an international standard of ergonomics of human system interaction part should be the default, unless there is no good reason to utilize it.

Of course, there would be reasons not to use it, but if I were looking to evaluate my human system interaction part, I would definitely want to know why potential user interface designers wouldn't use the international standard of ergonomics of human system interaction part. Isn't that what anyone else would do in the field of user and interaction system in UX?

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Mary Ann Dalangin

About the author

A content marketing strategist and a UX writer with years of experience in the digital marketing industry.

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