Pleasure with Products: Beyond Usability

Pleasure with Products: Beyond Usability

Pleasure with Products: Beyond Usability

Pleasure with Products: Beyond Usability

Synopsis

The quality of a design has begun to be judged not only on its fit with a person's abilities, but also on how it fits the person's lifestyle and self-image. This book discusses this shift in the role of human factors in product design.

Excerpt

In recent years the profile of Ergonomics, or Human Factors, has developed significantly. This is evident in a number of ways, the most important of which is the sharp increase in human factors professionals employed in industry (Green and Jordan 1999). The reasons are several and varied. They range from a response to the so-called Repetitive Strain Injury epidemic in the mid-eighties, which had a dramatic effect on both the public consciousness of ergonomics and on research into office ergonomics, to the increasingly evident technological 'level playing field' which has elevated usability from a kind of optional extra-nice to have but not life and death-to a real cutting-edge differentiator between products.

Industrial Design could be said to have undergone a similar rise in status. It is relatively recently that the professional industrial designer has become recognised as essential for leading manufacturers of consumer, professional and industrial products. Previously, an eclectic mix of artists, architects and mildly reconstructed engineers occupied a poorly defined position somewhere between the sales office and the production manager.

The fact that Human Factors and Industrial Design are growing together is no coincidence, but rather a natural confluence of overlapping knowledge and skills. That it is happening is cause for applause, but integration is a delicate flower and still requires careful tending.

Jordan (op. cit.) has identified three stages of integration, which he has called:

Phase 1-Being ignored (Self-explanatory)

Phase 2-'Bolt on' human factors (Post-facto clean-up of the interface)

Phase 3- Integrated human factors (H.F. specialists in the design team)

The integration of design and ergonomics/human factors is such an obvious sine qua non of design excellence that it seems ridiculous to have to spell it out, but the fact remains that the need was not always so obvious. At the turn of the century neither profession existed anyway, and when ergonomics invented itself as a discipline in the forties and fifties, it assumed the trappings of science and ignored the (apparently scientifically unsupportable) methods of the art-orientated design world. Moving back together has been precipitated by the recognition that design, defined as human/product

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