Usability and Quality of Everyday Products

The usability concept was standardized for the purposes related to software-ergonomics. But one can apply it to any kind of product. Designers of everyday products have applied the idea long before it was written down, with mixed success, however. Intuition instead of efficient methodology has been the major way how designers have worked. While intuition is the precursor of any successful design relying on intuition only keeps manufacturers learning from the success or failure of products. The outcome is that sometimes successful products are replaced by flawed designs because nobody knows why a product has been successful.

We have demonstrated that methods developed for low risk-high hazard areas such as nuclear power generation or aviation, report systems, may function with simple products by changing their goal from conveying negative information (failures, accidents, catastrophes) to reporting positive and negative incidents.
Following the usability concept, it is possible to reliably predict the success of planned products as well as to determine reasons for their failure. The condition is that user acceptance at least partly relies on the functionality of a product. For products for which fun and hedonism play a major role other methods may prove more successful.
Features of products that are likely to cause failure can be assessed even if functionality is not highly important. The method also allows to determine the reasons for success after a product has entered the market.
<< back to: Infos

__ downloads/links
Improving the Quality and Usability of Everyday Products
Publication in Human Factors and Ergonomics in Manufacturing, 5,911 kb >>