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Specialist Task Force 322:
Guidelines for generic user interface elements for 3G mobile terminals, services and applications

Who we are:

Team Leader: Bruno Von Niman
Team Members: David Lewis Williams
Matthias Schneider
Pekka Ketola

Latest news: the deliverable has been reworked, approved and published as ETSI Technical Report TR 102 972 (in October 2009).     

Following multiple reviews during the very late phase of the development work, on the request of some major mobile network operator and other ETSI members and 3GPP SA1 feedback, the draft ETSI Guide 202 972 deliverable has been reworked, approved and published as ETSI Technical Report TR 102 972 (in October 2009). We would like to thank all stakeholders involved in the work for their interest, efforts and contributions.

The published ETSI TR 102 972 is available here.

What we do :

We are developing an ETSI Guide (EG), currently available as ETSI DEG 202 972, that will provide generic, basic-level design,  development and deployment-oriented guidelines applicable to the user interfaces of 3G-enabled devices, services and applications, addressed from the end users’ perspective.

The work aims at further improving the overall user experience of the 3G/UMTS environment by addressing the user interfaces of its elements, for which basic-level guidelines are provided: terminal devices, communication services and data applications.

This work does by any means intend to restrict the ability of market players to further improve and develop their product offering, nor does it limit their options to trademark user interface elements or position the user experience of their brand-specific products and service offering as a competitive edge.

Basic considerations of what makes a user-interface area a candidate for generic user-interface elements include:

  • the proposed harmonization should not present any barrier to innovation;
  • it should not present an obstacle to good product-specific user interfaces;
  • only the semantics of a harmonized user-interface element should be specified in most cases, not the actual design and implementation;
  • end user aspects, such as learn ability, familiarity, trust, configuration, accessibility access, will be considered;
  • commercial aspects (faster uptake of new technologies, larger user base) as well as legal requirements and possible regulations will be taken into account.

The focus area of DEG 202 972 expands beyond the 2G/2.5G-focused guidelines developed in broad industrial consensus, published in 2004 (ETSI EG 202 132, “Human Factors; User Interfaces; Guidelines for generic user interface elements for mobile terminals and services”) by complementing them with 3G-specific aspects. These include:

  • Infrastructure and device-related guidelines:
  • Managing quality of service and cost of connectivity;
  • Internet access;
  • Always-on, always on-line;
  • Specialized UIs; and
  • Related terminology, symbols and auditory signals.
  • Guidelines for services, media and applications:
  • Data-intensive services and applications;
  • Distributed, non-device-native (local and remote) UIs;
  • Customization, personalization and operator-bundled packages;
  • Services of public interest (societal services/ services to the public);
  • Mobile Internet access and development guidelines; and
  • Related terminology, symbols and auditory signals.
  • Guidelines for other (related) areas:
  • Application installation and software updates;
  • Computer access;
  • IMS-based application guidelines;
  • 3G-enabled accessibility applications;
  • In-car use; and
  • Related terminology, symbols and auditory signals.

The guidelines provided in EG 202 132 remain applicable to the systems and services addressed by the current work, as 2G technologies are an integral part of 3G communication networks (as well as other wireless networks, e.g. Wi-Fi) and services currently offered.

Wherever possible, Design-for-All approach principles are applied in the development of the guidelines, taking the needs and abilities of all users (including young and older people and users with sensory and functional limitations) into account. Furthermore, services and applications with an accessibility applicability, enabled by 3G technologies are specifically addressed by this work.

Ergonomic issues related to hardware design and machine-to-machine communication interfaces are not addressed.

Read our Terms of Reference

Final draft DEG 202 972 version 40 has failed to achieve approval in January 2009.

Final draft DEG 202 972 version 50 has failed to achieve approval in April 2009.

Why we do it:

Technological advances and market pressures have made telecommunications and ICT products and systems increasingly complex, feature rich and miniaturized. Research results indicate that novice as well as advanced users is equally afraid of the high complexity of new technologies.

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) play a key role in the daily activities of many people. The mobile telephone is a highly successful device that also corresponds to a deep human communication urge. Available and coming applications and services promise a world where ICT resources improve further the quality of life.

The capabilities offered by mobile solutions evolve continuously, from plain calls and the use voice-mail to messaging applications,  personalization, navigation, personal information management, application additions and the introduction of multimedia information services, quasi-cordless functionality or video call services.

The work is aligned with and co-funded through the European Commission's Initiative eEurope (2005), a programme for inclusive deployment of new, important, consumer-oriented technologies, opening up global access to communications and other new broadband technologies, for all, see

The e-Europe Action Plan states that the potential of the Information Society (IS) “…is growing due to the technological developments of broadband and multi‑platform access”.
The Communication from the European Commission COM (2004) 061, “Connecting Europe at high speed: recent developments in the sector of electronic communications”, highlights the need for sustained political commitment to improve the effective use of ICTs in the Union and identifies actions to remove barriers to further investment: “…further deployment of new innovative services calls for actions on facilitating deployment of the necessary infrastructure, broadband and 3G communications”. Similar messages are carried by the EC Universal Service Directive (2002/22/EC) and the Framework Directive (2002/21/EC).

Time plan for the work:

  • March 2007: Start of work
  • June and September 2007: Early draft DEG 202 972 development and reporting to ETSI TC Human Factors
  • December 2007: Presentation at the Mobility Conference 2007
  • February 2007: Reporting and presentation of first draft to ETSI TC Human Factors
  • March 2008: Full-day review and consensus Workshop at HFT 2008 and paper presentation
  • April 2008: Presentation and discussion at Mobile Internet 2008
  • May 2008: Presentation and Workshop at the Finnish CHI conference and the Swedish ITS AG9 ICT Accessibility WG
  • June 2008: Presentation of stable draft to ETSI TC Human Factors and to the W3C Mobile Web Best Practices WG
  • September 2008: Presentation at Mobile HCI 2008, ITU-T Telecom 2008 and the ACM Mobility Conference 2008 (including a dedicated, special session)
  • September 22, 2008: Draft DEG 202 972 available for review
  • October 2008: Final draft DEG 202 972 presented to ETSI TC Human Factors
  • November 2008 - January 2009: Presentation to the UMTS Forum, the Nordic Forum for Telecom Accessibility and eAsia Mobile Services
  • December 2008 – March 2009: ETSI TB approval, ETSI Membership Vote Approval and publication of ETSI EG 202 972
  • Project closure in March 2009

How to contact us:

If you would like more information, please contact the STF Leader through email ( or mobile phone (+46 733 66 1234).


Note: this information is based upon STF working assumptions. The views expressed do not necessarily represent the position of ETSI in this context.