Fraunhofer IAO, Nobelstr. 12, D-70569 Stuttgart, Germany e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The design of multimedia systems in general and, more specifically, of user interfaces for multimedia systems is a complex task, which has to deal with a much wider range of design options than e.g. the design of conventional graphical user interfaces. Can we standardize the design of such interfaces and would it be desirable to do so? Multimedia design is often being associated with high levels of creativity, strong dependencies between the specific content and the external form and a multitude of different design styles. Many designers believe that each multimedia system should be unique and that the design process cannot be subject to standardization. On the other hand, users whose goal is to access the content of a multimedia system for their professional tasks, for learning purposes or just out of personal interest, have a need to control the system in predictable ways, to perceive and understand the content without being confused by inapppropriate media use, or to explore the system without prior knowledge about its content.
Standardization approaches need to take account of these issues and should try to define suitable trade-offs between the necessary degrees of freedom of a design and usability-related principles and guidelines. Within ISO, the International Standards Organization, there is currently an ongoing effort to standardize user interface and usability aspects of multimedia. ISO 14915 "Multimedia user interface design - software ergonomic requirements" is the first international standard, addressing multimedia user interface design in a systematic manner (a different approach to defining usability requirements for multimedia systems has recently been started in IEC PT 61997). It is a multipart standard which has currently three parts in a draft stage.