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44 Human Factors In Design

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Human factors is the practice of designing things to suit human characteristics. This includes both physical and cognitive factors that are considered in the design of products, services and processes. The following are common examples.


The greatness that people see in things such as art, design, nature and technique.


Measurements and proportions of the human body.

Attention Span

The amount of time that people can concentrate on a particular thought or task. Associated with learning and productivity factors such as flow.


The mechanics of living systems. For example, the design of a tennis racquet might consider the mechanics of the elbow joint.


Things that humans can do. Designs may leverage, compliment or support human capabilities. For example, a helmet design that considers the range of angles that people can view with peripheral vision.

Cognitive Biases

Human cognitive functions commonly rely on a wide variety of shortcuts and approximations. In some cases, such shortcuts are useful. In other cases, they lead to judgments and behaviors that can be shown to be irrational. Such factors are documented as patterns of thought known as cognitive biases.

Cognitive Load

The total amount of thought that humans can take on concurrently.

Cognitive Psychology

The study of mental processes such as language and perception.

Color Perception

The perception of colors such as color temperature.


How humans formulate and exchange thoughts, information and emotions.


Processes such as divergent thinking that allow humans to create ideas that are new.


Things that make life pleasant and meaningful such as art, music, literature, film and food.

Decison Making

The processes that humans use to make decisions. Important to design in areas such as marketing, business processes and information visualization.


Quantifiable characteristics of human populations such as the age distribution found in a particular city.


Human requirements for calories under different conditions. Used to design things such as food, weight loss programs or sports drinks.


The study of culture. Culture influences a broad range of design in areas such as business processes and user interfaces.


Knowledge and mastery of skills has a variety of design implications. For example, experts in a particular field may have different user interface needs than a beginner.


How tiredness influences behavior and abilities. Fatigue has significance to areas such as safety and prevention of human error.

G Force And Weightlessness

The effect of g-forces and weightlessness on the human body has implications for the design of things such as spacecraft, vehicles and amusement park attractions.

Hand Eye Coordination

The processing of visual inputs to guide the hands such as a musician who simultaneously processes music notation and cues from a conductor to produce highly accurate, stylized and delicate hand movements.

Human Scale

The practice of building physical things such as buildings to a scale that is useful to people. Human scale is also a term for units of measure that are designed to be relevant to humans. For example, meters and feet are useful for measure human things. By contrast, a light year is beyond direct human experience.


The human ability to think about things beyond direct experience. Art, architecture, entertainment and advertising are often designed to trigger the imagination.


The ability for humans to perform an analysis almost instantaneously without conscious thought.


The study of human movement.


Language is a basis for human thought, culture and communication. It is a factor in designing things such as processes. In many cases, a profession or organization develops its own language features that are considered important to goals such as productivity.

Life Span

The human life span has a direct influence on the design of retirement plans, careers and social systems.


Abilities to perceive, encode, store, retain and recall information.


The reasons for behavior. Understanding motivation has broad implications in areas such as process design, marketing and corporate culture.


Sensory perception and its interpretation by the mind.


Systems of the human body such as organs and cells.


Atmospheric pressure that humans find comfortable.

Problem Solving

Human abilities to solve problems using a variety of approaches including logical thought, imagination and social processes.

Risk Tolerance

Levels of risk taking and risk aversion and factors that trigger such behaviors. Important to the design of economic systems and safety equipment.

Situational Awareness

The human ability to assess fast moving situations and take quick actions. Influences the design of things such as market data terminals and air traffic control systems.

Social Behavior

Humans exhibit a broad range of social behaviors that impact most areas of design and engineering. For example, the design of an interplanetary spacecraft might consider social factors in confined, remote, harsh and isolated environments.

Spatial Cognition

Human perception and interpretation of physical space such as a sense of direction.

State Of Mind

The effects of mood and mental state.


Stimuli such as noise. For example, an office might be designed with a variety of both social and quiet spaces.


The effect of situational or chronic stress.


The tendency for people to form tribes with which they identify based on factors such as interests and lifestyle.


The temperature ranges that people find comfortable or pleasing such as the ideal temperature for a food item.


Weights of objects that people can comfortably and safely handle. The weight of humans themselves is also considered in the design of things such as aircraft.

Well Being

A general term for the self reported happiness of people that may include cognitive, social and economic factors. Well-being is a common design goal in areas such as urban planning, social systems and healthcare.

Working Memory

The information that a person can consider at any one time.


This is the complete list of articles we have written about design.
Color Harmony
Color Temperature
Commercial Art
Concept Design
Context Of Use
Critical Design
Defensive Design
Design Abstraction
Design Business
Design Concept
Design Constraints
Design Culture
Design Debt
Design Failure
Design Fiction
Design Flaw
Design Goals
Design Innovation
Design Management
Design Objectives
Design Philosophy
Design Principles
Design Process
Design Quality
Design Requirements
Design Research
Design Skills
Design Strategy
Design Styles
Design Testing
Design Theory
Design Thinking
Design To Value
Digital Design
Edge Case
Emergent Design
Emotional Design
Feature Fatigue
Fit For Purpose
Game Design
Graphic Design
Human Factors
Human Scale
Immersive Design
Industrial Design
Information Design
Input Is Error
Interaction Design
Iterative Design
Less Is A Bore
Less Is More
Marketing Design
Modern Design
More Is Different
Moving Parts
Naive Design
Negative Space
New Complexity
No Design
Product Design
Sensory Design
Service Design
Shape And Form
Silent Design
Slow Design
Speculative Design
Sustainable Design
Transition Design
Universal Design
Urban Design
Visual Design
Worse Is Better
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