Human Factors in Consumer Products

By Neville Stanton | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

Towards consumer product interface design guidelines

JOHN V.H.BONNER

Institute of Design, Teesside University


14.1 Are Guidelines Useful?

Product designers are continually confronted with constraints, standards and guidelines. Therefore one response to this chapter would be is there a need for another set of guidelines? Their effectiveness in supporting the design process can certainly be questioned. Research by Klein and Brezovic (1986) asked designers to rate various types of human factors information and found that technical literature was rated least effective, with personal experiences and experimentation supporting design decisions rated the most useful. Designers complained that the literature was often difficult to apply to their particular design problem.

Relevant guidelines are, by their nature, difficult to produce because they have to apply in many situations. Furthermore, guidelines can be axiomatic: statements such as 'present data, messages and prompts in a clear and directly usable form' are self-evident and lack any suggestion or metric by which this statement could be measured. The problem is further compounded by many guidelines assuming that designers only need to be made aware of a rule or principle in order to implement it; or that a few applied psychology principles will provide an adequate design framework.

Designers do not deliberately design bad products. It is more a question of designers not recognising a particular problem existing when provided with design advice. For example, working with the statement 'reduce the amount of memorisation required to complete a command', many designers may critically examine their design with impunity, not recognising that the command sequence may require amendment because they have a different mental model of the users'

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