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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.

Aesthetics

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

Anthropometry

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.

Biomechanics

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

Capabilities

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.

Communication

How humans formulate and exchange thoughts, information and emotions.

Creativity

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

Culture

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.

Demographics

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

Energy

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

Ethnography

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

Experience

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.

Fatigue

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.

Imagination

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

Intuition

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

Kinesiology

The study of human movement.

Language

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.

Memory

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

Motivation

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

Perception

Sensory perception and its interpretation by the mind.

Physiology

Systems of the human body such as organs and cells.

Pressure

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

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

Stress

The effect of situational or chronic stress.

Subculture

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

Temperature

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

Weight

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.

Design

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Adaptability
Aesthetics
Architecture
Balance
Charrette
Color Harmony
Color Temperature
Commercial Art
Complexity
Composition
Concept Design
Context Of Use
Crafts
Critical Design
Customization
Defensive Design
Design
Design Abstraction
Design Business
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Design Debt
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Design Fiction
Design Flaw
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Design Research
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Design Thinking
Design To Value
Digital Design
Dominance
Edge Case
Elegance
Emergent Design
Emotional Design
Feature Fatigue
Fit For Purpose
Game Design
Gesamtkunstwerk
Graphic Design
Human Factors
Human Scale
Immersive Design
Industrial Design
Information Design
Input Is Error
Interaction Design
Iterative Design
Layout
Less Is A Bore
Less Is More
Lightness
Marketing Design
Minimalism
Modern Design
More Is Different
Moving Parts
Naive Design
Negative Space
New Complexity
No Design
Overengineering
Persona
Product Design
Prototypes
Sensory Design
Service Design
Shape And Form
Silent Design
Slow Design
Space
Speculative Design
Stability
Structure
Style
Sustainable Design
Synthesis
Texture
Transition Design
Unity
Universal Design
Urban Design
Usability
UX
Variety
Visual Design
Worse Is Better
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Thought Processes

A list of thinking approaches and types.

Logic

A few logic terms explained.

Cognitive Biases

A list of common cognitive biases explained.

Abstract Ideas

A few dangers of being too abstract.

Objective vs Subjective

The difference between objective and subjective.

Intellectual Diversity

A definition of intellectual diversity with examples.

Creative Value

The definition of creative value with examples.

Anecdotal Evidence

The definition of anecdotal evidence with examples.

Benefit Of Doubt

The definition of benefit of doubt with examples.

Pessimism

The definition of pessimism with examples.

Design

A comprehensive guide to design.

Color Theory

An overview of color theory.

Layout vs Composition

The difference between layout and composition.

Modeless vs Contextual

The difference between modeless and contextual user interfaces explained.

Types Of Design

A list of common types of design.

Design Process

The steps in a design process.

Design Quality

The common types of design quality.

Universal Design

A definition of universal design with examples.

Sensory Design

A definition of sensory design with examples.

Emotional Design

An overview of emotional design.

Elegance

The definition of elegance with examples.
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