Human Factors

Human Factors and Ergonomics are about designing for people. Producing good design requires understanding of peoples’ capabilities and limitations and how these vary across the population. Human Factors provides a structured, scientific and evidence-based approach to this.

 

Our clients want help and advice on finding solutions to a vast range of human behaviour-related questions and problems. From improving the usability of a medical device to predicting the workload of an operator in a control room. From the usability of a ticket machine to the accessibility of buses to mobility scooters. Using Human Factors in the design process provides insight into how different people might use or interact with the design solution. It drives design to meet to peoples’ needs rather than forcing them to adapt. Human Factors brings a people-orientated perspective to the design team.

The benefits are a better understanding of the user population at the outset, confidence that risks such as human error will be minimised and a design that is more likely to meet user needs and therefore be wanted and accepted. This results in better usability, better safety and better efficiency. Using the science of Human Factors means getting the right design, first time.

Digital experiences now dominate our lives yet we still have to battle against interfaces that confuse and confound us. Almost every product that succeeds and gets widely adopted has a great interface design yet this continues to fail on so many products.

We believe that there are two keys to getting it right. Firstly, focus as much on usability as on brand implementation and technology. Second, prototype and test with users and keep doing it.

Where do we come in? Our design research skills are great at capturing and honing what your users need from the product. So we can help during the concept development phase as the voice of the user in the design. We can build concept screen designs for apps, websites or bespoke software. Then we can test – either in the field or using our testing facility. Under controlled conditions we get real end users to use the prototypes with video recording to help us analyse and dissect the interaction later on.

The benefit of our input is you enter design much more confident you know what your users need; and you go through design certain that you are on the right track.

Getting the best from your people should be a given for any organisation. But achieving it is a complex task of creating the right jobs, tools and working environments. Many organisations are also concerned with minimising the potential for people to make costly mistakes.

Predicting the likely human performance from any work system is an important part of the design process. It is at this stage that potential failures in human performance can be designed out.

We have developed a range of tools for assessing workload and human error potential in the workplace. These tools have been validated in safety critical work environments like the railway industry. Our methods provide objective information on the likely performance of your staff and help give confidence that they are being given the right environment in which to work.

When designing a workspace or hardware, it is often difficult to see how the physical interaction between user, equipment and space will work out until the design is well advanced. Often it is only when a prototype or mock-up can be produced that people can interact with it and any problems can be identified. Even then it is difficult to assess the design considering the various different sizes and shapes that people are.

At this point in the design, changes are likely to be expensive and have an impact on schedule. But resistance to making change is also likely to affect acceptance of the design by users.

We use a human modelling CAD system called SAMMIE. This bespoke software allows us to model spaces or products very quickly and then insert anthropometrically-correct manikins to test the design. It gives us data out on posture, comfort, reach and vision. It is a great tool for an objective assessment of a design early in development and in a way that is quick and cost effective.

We understand the importance of looking after our health and wellbeing in order to improve company performance and the first step in doing so is to ensure that our primary place of work is safe and comfortable. We have a wealth of experience in Ergonomics, the design and set up of desks, DSE equipment and the correct working environments to ensure a healthy, productive and safe workplace.

We can offer you:

  • DSE assessments
  • Office Environmental assessment
  • Workstation layout and design advice

We have a team of qualified ergonomists who can provide DSE assessments for you and your company. We can assess a range of workstations varying from a typical office set-up to a laboratory set-up.

Many of our clients face challenging human behaviour-related problems. They don’t want to guess the right approach to solving them nor do they have the time or budget for a detailed academic research project.

So often they come to us looking for a pragmatic solution. We do practical research projects that give a scientific basis for answering the question given to us. Our approach is based on rigour and giving the right level of evidence and confidence to the solution.

Questions we have been asked to solve in recent years include:

  • How fast do passengers walk and is this likely to change in the next 20-30 years?
  • How can we prove that it is safe to open the hard shoulder to cars using CCTV images to check that the road is clear
  • What effect to the yellow lines on stations have on passenger behaviour and perceptions of safety?
  • Why are our passengers not using new ticket machines designed for cashless operation?
  • What needs do passengers with buggies have when travelling on our buses?
  • What effect do steps into a train have on the time it takes passengers to board and alight?