Friday, 6 February 2009

Human-centred design

I’ll be honest right from the off - I'm a newbie. This is my first blog, and this is my first post. My plan for this blog is to share and air my views on human-centred design (HCD; aka ergonomics, aka human factors - semantic differences but essentially we’re all on the same side, and I use these terms interchangeably). My motivation is that I believe HCD matters - not just to my colleagues and me, but to everyone.

We all come across ergonomics every day, at home, at work, and at leisure. Consumer products, transport, workstations - any time we interact with, well, anything that’s been designed. But most of the time you probably don’t notice it - except when ergonomics goes bad, when it’s right in your face, causing errors and frustration.

Sticking with the honesty, I’ll come clean and say I’m not a designer. My background is in psychology, and I got into this by applying my knowledge of what people can and can’t do to their performance in complex systems (transport - driver/pilot performance, in my case). But through my career I’ve come round to the idea that the people best placed to make a difference here are those who put the products and systems out into the real world - the designers and engineers. That’s why at Brunel University we’re training the next generation of human-centred designers.

Over the course of this blog I’d like to share our achievements at Brunel, as well as my own personal encounters with HCD in everyday life. I hope you find it useful as well as stimulating to think about your own experiences of HCD - good or bad.

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