Designing for Humans

Designing for Humans

Designing for Humans

Designing for Humans


Nature aside, the world in which we live should be designed for us, from everyday products like scissors and chairs to complex systems in avionics, medicine and nuclear power applications. Now more than ever, technological advances continue to increase the range and complexity of tasks that people have to perform. As a discipline, human factors psychology (ergonomics) therefore has an increasingly important role to play in ensuring that the human user's physical characteristics, cognitive abilities and social needs are taken into account in the development, implementation and operation of products and systems. In this book, Jan Noyes provides a comprehensive and up-to-date overview of human-machine interaction and the design of environments at work. Focusing on topics relevant to user-centred design, she includes coverage of the capabilities and limitations of humans, human-machine interactions, work environments, and organizational issues. Health and safety issues underpin a large amount of work on the human factors of design, and these are addressed fully throughout the book. Each chapter includes case studies that demonstrate the real-world relevance of the points being made and concludes with a list of key points. Although aimed primarily at advanced undergraduates, postgraduates and researchers in organizational and occupational psychology, this book will also be of relevance to students on engineering, computing and applied psychology/human factors programmes.


A chair should be judged by one’s pants, a jewel by the light in a lady’s eyes, a typewriter by the hovering fingers.

Time Magazine, On good design, 12 January 1959

When this quote was written, the study of human-machine interaction from a psychological perspective was in its infancy. Today, over 40 years later, we have a greater understanding of the design issues associated with human-machine interactions and work environments. This is in part due to the growing discipline of Ergonomics/Human Factors psychology. In 1996, for example, the International Ergonomics Association (IEA) had thirty-five federated and affiliated member societies. Today, this has grown to thirty-nine member societies. In 1996 there were about 17,000 ergonomists representing forty-five countries involved in professional activities under the umbrella of the IEA. The true number is likely to be higher given that the IEA does not include student members, associates or retired members. Further, some ergonomists do not belong to a professional organisation—some estimates place this at around 40 per cent. Finally, these figures are from 1996 and the overall trend has been towards an annual increase in numbers.

Although the IEA includes countries from around the world, there is greater representation from some areas. Geographical areas that are well-represented include Australasia, Japan, Northern Europe, North America and Scandinavia. Although several new societies are currently being formed, there is comparably little ergonomic representation (and therefore, activity) in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. This is important from the perspective of where the research is primarily being carried out and from where the material has been gathered in order to write this book. It has to be stated from the outset that this book has been written from a developed-world perspective. No attempt has been made to consider human-machine interactions and working conditions in communities and cultures where the emphasis is on manual labour rather than technologically driven systems. Writing such a book would indeed pose a considerable challenge. However, when considering the distribution of the world’s population, relatively few

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