Human Factors Psychology A Practical Application of Psychological Concepts
What’s wrong with this picture? • Human Factors can help!
What is it? • HUMAN FACTORS PSYCHOLOGY combines psychology and product design. In fact, psychology has changed the field of product design in many interesting ways. • Psychologists bring to the design table their knowledge of how people perceive products and themselves, how they process those perceptions, and how people then behave. • They apply their knowledge of a person's cognitive processes to the design of a product, from its shape, its function, how it is properly used, its colors, its look, even to its feel. • The goal of applying this knowledge is to appeal to our sense of identity, to guide users in how to use particular products, to prevent foreseeable misuse, and to give consumers the best possible experience with the product.
Goals of Human Factors Psychology To design products and tools to make them easier and safer for people To design products with the user in mind To make technology adapt to the human, not the other way around
Where Do Human Factors Specialists Work? HF engineers are everywhere! HF engineers help design things that people use everyday Airplanes, computers, appliances, road signs, cell phones, web sites, toys, video games, etc.
What Do Human Factors Specialists Do? Research and Development How can we make things work: Better? Easier? Faster? Safer?
Human Factors Specialists: Talk to the users Who is using this product? What do they need? What do they want? Make recommendations to: Designers Engineers/programmers Manufacturers
What Topics are Studied in Human Factors? Human Factors involves many different skills: Psychology: study of human thought and action. Anthropometrics: measurement and study of the human body and its parts and capacities. Ergonomics: the branch of science that deals with the relation between workers & their environments. Includes designing objects in the work environment to fit people better Physiology: study of human biological functioning.
Some Interesting Sub-Fields Within Human Factors Human Computer Interaction This is the study of how humans interact with computers to improve computer applications & hardware designs
Some Interesting Sub-Fields Within Human Factors Error Prevention This is the study of human error and its predictability, for the purpose of preventing errors through good design.
Some Interesting Sub-Fields Within Human Factors Product Design Human factors specialists apply their understanding of the human mind & body and how humans interact with certain products Watch out for the bar!
Some Interesting Sub-fields Within Human Factors Ergonomics This is the study of work environments and how to get the environment to be most productive for the user
Some Interesting Sub-fields Within Human Factors Human Factors in the Government and Military One arena in which many opportunities exist for human factors professionals is in the government and military
Some Attractions of Careers in Human Factors Making a Difference: making tasks safer and work more productive for all can be very rewarding. Design: This application of human factors allows for creativity in exploring stylistic design. Flexibility: this specialization can be applied to many far-reaching disciplines such as medicine, design, computers, architecture, engineering, and military. Research: if you enjoy research and the investigative process, this may very well be the future career for you.
Practical Applications for Human Factors Where have you seen Human Factors applied in real life? Where is it desperately needed? The following slides demonstrate HF successes and failures.
Applications for Human Factors Human Factors can be used to help make video game play easier, more comfortable, and more realistic. Human Factors has helped remodel home system controllers.
Controllers At first the controllers had turning knobs like “Pong.” Then joysticks came with “Atari.” Thumb discs and keypads developed as an alternative to joysticks like “Intellivision.” Joysticks were then designed to fit better in the human hand.
Video Game Hand Controllers Pong Atari Joystick with hand in mind Intellivision
Joysticks to Hand Controller Controllers were designed to be used with two hands. Then they started to take curving shapes to fit more comfortably. Next companies introduced the joystick and triggers into the hand controllers which further increased usability. Today controllers have two joysticks, easy to use triggers, and correctly designed button placement for faster use.
From Joystick to Hand Controller NES NES 64 SNES SEGA GAMECUBE XBOX PS2
Poor product design usually results when the makers of the product do not take human factors into account…
Poor Designs That Need Human Factors! For a computer: Some users had trouble setting up their systems. Where do you plug in the mouse? The human factors solution: Plug-ins on computers are now color coded and have icons!
Poor Designs That Need Human Factors! For a cell phone: What humans think: The “p” button must stand for power The poor design: The “p” isn’t power! “End” is power!
How do you turn the burners on? • Stove top controls This is the obligatory stove top control example that probably appears in every book on human factors design to illustrate bad design. The problem is that it is difficult to tell which control goes with which burner.
Solution? • Design suggestion One way to make it easy to tell which control goes with which device is to arrange the controls in the same layout as the devices. The solution is to arrange the controls in the same configuration as the burners. It is quite easy to tell which burner goes with which control. Why do you think all stove tops layouts aren't designed like this one?
What’s wrong with this? • Labels that look like pushbuttons One problem with these elevator controls is that the labels on the bottom row look like pushbuttons. So when you want to open the elevator door, you accidentally push the "DOOR OPEN" label instead of the pushbutton next to it. The top row of pushbuttons doesn't seem to have this problem.
How can this be fixed? • Design suggestion One solution to this problem would be to put the labels on the pushbuttons, rather than beside the pushbuttons. However, this solution would probably be more expensive. Another approach would be to determine why the top row of pushbuttons doesn't have the bottom row's problem and apply that knowledge to the design of the bottom row. The pushbuttons and labels in the top row are divided visually into groups, so it is easier to see the pattern of labels and pushbuttons. Also, the labels are narrower than the pushbuttons in the top row. This makes the labels look less like pushbuttons. Thus, making the labels narrower in the bottom row would not only put the label closer to its corresponding pushbutton, but also help divide the pushbuttons and labels into groups.
Where are the window controls? These are the window controls in a friend's car. They are located on the center console between the front seats. One problem with these controls is that they are not where you expect them to be. When a person wants to raise or lower a window they generally will look over by the window for the control, not between the front seats. By the way, there is something else wrong with these controls: "How do you raise the window?"
How do you raise the window? This picture shows the buttons to raise and lower the windows on a friend's car. To lower a window you push the corresponding button. To raise the window, you LIFT UP on the button. So you move the button the way you want the window to go. This makes sense, but I still have trouble using the buttons. I think the problem is that people don't expect buttons to LIFT UP. Hmm... maybe if the buttons looked like pull tabs on soda cans...
Solution to the window problems? • Design suggestion 1 Put a control next to the device it controls. • Design suggestion 2 People don't expect to lift up or pull on buttons. Controls should operate the way they appear to operate.
How do you unlock the door? This picture shows the locks on a front door. To unlock the dead bolt lock (above), you turn the key to the right. To unlock the door knob lock (below), you turn the key to the left! That's pretty confusing! I checked a few other doors, and this seems to be the way they work too. I would hope they don't all work like this!
Solution? • Design suggestion Controls that have the same function should be operated in the same way. For example, both locks should be unlocked by turning the key in the same direction. This is an example of what is meant in human factors by "consistency" in design.
How do you turn on the shower? • This has got to be the worst design ever for a shower control. It is so bad there is a sticker on the faucet giving instructions for how to make the water come out of the shower instead of the faucet. You'll never guess how you turn on the shower. You reach under the faucet, grab the part where the water comes out and pull down on it!
Solution? • Design suggestion This design is bad for a number of reasons. One is that nothing else works like this. Another is that the "control" for turning on the shower doesn't look anything like a control, so the control is basically hidden. Frequently, when devices come with instructions stuck on them, there is a problem with the design. • Reader's comment I used to have that awful shower controller where you pull down on the nozzle to turn it on. I had to tell every guest how to do it, and when we sold our house, we got a call from the new owners about 5 days later asking how to turn on the shower. They had been taking baths for 5 days! Unbelievable. - BL
Who is this bathroom for? • Men's room sign This sign is on a men's room door at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. To quote the gentlemen who posted this picture, “I was going to go in, but it seemed that maybe this restroom was for handicapped men only. Just to be sure I watched some guys walk up to the door, look at the sign and then walk away, presumably to go down stairs to the IMAX lobby, like the sign says. Other guys went on in, so I did too. It was a perfectly normal men's room. I don't really know what I was expecting!”
Solution? • Design suggestion The words Men and handicapped need to be separated on the sign. By putting them next to each other and giving them about the same amount of salience, one is misled into thinking that the room is only for handicapped men.