The MPE Degree

The Importance of Human Factors in Product Design – Part 2

The Importance Of Human Factors In Product Design Part2In our first post on Human Factors, we defined human factors and why they are needed in product design. This post will discuss some of the methodology used to study the impact of ergonomics.

Form Follows Function

Each product development project requires an individualized approach to establish ergonomic specifications. Two of the most widely known forms of ergonomics accounted for in the design and engineering phase are physical ergonomics and cognitive ergonomics. Physical ergonomics focuses on biomechanical characteristics and includes research of anthropometric data. Cognitive ergonomics studies human-computer interaction, human reliability, and work/mental stress.

Human factors based research and exploration during product development is essential to drive a user focused, ergonomic design. The resulting product will accommodate the product specifications in the most elegant form.

Product developers use an arsenal of tools to assess, explore, and accommodate users. The following lists provide examples of the tools/resources used. They also highlight some of the keys to success, including the individuals that should be involved in the usability and definition of the final product goals.

Tools for Design + Evaluation

  • References to anthropometric studies/data and statistical information (demographics, international or national population research)
  • In-field observations
  • Productivity assessments
  • Exploration Study
  • Proof-of-concept models
  • Prototyping
  • Voice of customer (VOC) or user feedback

Keys to Develop an Ergonomic Design

  • Identify areas of risk (e.g. pushing, steering, lifting, bending)
  • Target opportunities (e.g. cable management, adjustability, strategically designed behavior)
  • Prioritize benefits versus trade-offs
  • Plan for the worst case scenario
  • Evaluate early and often
  • Incorporate delight and satisfaction

Stakeholders: Who to Involve in the Process?

  • Industrial Designers
  • Engineering
  • Ergonomists
  • Direct Users
  • Purchasing
  • Marketing

In the final installment on the Importance of Human Factors in Design, we will talk about the wide-ranging impact of ergonomics.

Ethnographic Research Anthromopetric Data

Related: Why Empathy is Crucial to Product Development

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