Open standards already exist
In our research into user experiences of open standards for data, we found that finding existing standards or relevant work can be a problem.
Difficulties range from not knowing open standards exist to determining if a given standard can help solve your problem.
As creating a standard is both time and resource intensive, we encourage owners of standards to provide useful examples, clear documentation, accessible tools and timely updates to encourage adoption.
Check for existing standards through existing networks and directories such as the open data standards directory, civic open data standards by Azavea, and the UK government’s list of approved open standards.
Review our guidance on tools to find open standards for more resources.
Check whether any existing standard meets your needs.
Your needs are still unclear
When what you need is still unclear — for example, your project is in the initial stages — creating a new standard right away may not be the best option.
You can begin by focusing on:
understanding the scope of the problem — this tells you what your needs are and which are most important
understanding potential solutions — this tells you if open standards are the right solution to your problem
commissioning a proof of concept to explore options — this can help you find existing open standards and is a practical way to quickly test solutions to your problem
working through a discovery phase — this can help you investigate the problem and solutions, including finding and testing existing open standards
Owners of standards should provide examples and metaphors to explain the value of standards, teach through experience, and be clear on the language used to make open standards easier to understand and adopt.
We encourage anyone interested in open standards to engage with those that already exist before creating new open standards.
There is much to be learned from existing standards in terms of what works and what doesn’t.
Getting to know existing standard communities will help you make connections that can help in developing or extending an open standard.
We encourage you to seek out standards that might form the basis of your new standard or act as a template for data formats, vocabularies and more.
See types of open standards for data for more on mixing and matching standards.
There is low community buy-in
Open standards are reusable agreements developed collaboratively with a community.
Your community might be:
internal — for example a department or branches in your organisation
external — people and organisations in similar or complementary sectors
a mix — including internal and external stakeholders, the general public, governmental, public bodies and more
In our research, ‘User experiences of open standards for data’, we found that poor consultation can impact success. Poorly designed consultation and governance can cause problems during standards development, leading to incorrect decisions or poorly timed feedback.
If there is little or no buy-in from your target community, creating a new standard may result in an open standard that is poorly consulted, adopted or not used at all.
Late changes to the standard may lead to a loss of trust in the standard, or even splits in the community, with people abandoning the standard or creating versions of their own.