Designing for Usability; Input of Ergonomics Information at
The design of a successful product is dependent upon incorporating information from a number of different knowledge domains; it must perform at a functional level, at an aesthetic level and must also be manufacturable by the right process for the right pnce. The necessary information comes from a variety of disciplines including design, ergonomics and engineering. In the case of ergonomics, it would seem obvious that products are made to be used and should function properly, reliably and safely. However, products in the market place are not always designed with the user populations' needs, abilities, skills or preferences in mind; a user population which is likely to be diverse including people of all ages and functional abilities. At best a product/user mismatch may cause only inconvenience or discomfort (Porter, Porter and Lee 1992), at worst injury or fatality. Department of Trade, Home Accident Safety System (HASS) data (published yearly) shows that inadequate domestic product design does indeed cause serious injury and even fatality. The rather serious implication of this is that designers may not have an understanding of both the physical and the psychological human characteristics of the population for whom they are designing. There is evidence in the literature to support this notion. Burns and Vicente (1994), Hasdogen (1995) and Pheasant (1995) present many instances, in the design field, of ergonomics information being used inappropriately by
designers, if it is used at alL In this chapter we aim to provide an example of good incorporation of ergonomics principles and data into the design process, discuss the reasons why poor practice occurs and make suggestions for improving practice.