CHAPTER 10 - HUMAN FACTORS:
AND WORKPLACE DESIGN
After completing this chapter, you should be able to:
Identify characteristics of well-designed EUIS software.
Differentiate among command, menu, icon, natural speech, pen- and speech recognition-based
Discuss principles of good interface design and screen layout.
Explain the objectives of usability analysis and how they contribute to good interface design.
Define terms that describe characteristics of computer monitors: glare, flicker, bezel, and character
List six terms that describe the ergonomics of keyboard operation.
Explain how mouse manufacturers are incorporating ergonomic design into their products.
Describe the application of AMCO-PACT in designing office spaces.
Discuss the relationship between lighting and worker productivity.
Offer at least three solutions to alleviating noise in the work environment.
Discuss the relationship between workstation design and worker productivity.
Suggest how individuals can improve their posture when using a computer.
Explain the impact of reach and viewing distances on workstation design.
Give several examples of territoriality in the workplace.
Explain why socialization patterns must be considered in workplace design.
Explain the relationship of productivity to personal space, backs and sides, eye contact, privacy, and
10.2 Software Design
10.2.1 Types of Software Interfaces
10.2.1.1 Command Interfaces
10.2.1.2 Menu-Based Interfaces
10.2.1.3 Icon-Based Interfaces
10.2.1.4 Natural Language Interfaces
10.2.1.5 Pen-based Interfaces
10.2.1.6 Speech recognition technology
10.2.20 User Interface Design
10.2.2.1 Improving User Understanding
10.2.2.2 Allowing Users to Control the Dialogue
10.2.30 Screen Layout
10.2.4 Performance Support (Learning Aids)
10.30 Hardware Design
10.3.1 The Monitor
10.3.2 The Keyboard
10.3.3 The Mouse
10.4 0 Workplace Design
10.4.1 Office Layout
10.4.1.1 The AMCO/PACT Model of Office Layout
10.4.1.2 Environmental Impacts
10.4.20 Workstation Design
10.4.2.1 Work Analysis
10.4.2.2 Anthropometric Concerns
10.4.3 Behavioral Concerns
10.4.3.2 Personal Space
10.4.3.3 Backs and Sides
10.4.3.4 Eye Contact
Concern about productivity as well as the health, safety, and comfort of workers in the office workplace
has led to increased interest in human factors, the application of information on physical and
psychological characteristics to the design of devices and systems for human use. Human factors is
generally used synonymously with the term ergonomics, the study of the natural laws of work. Ideally,
office workers should be in an environment that fosters good work habits, combining design and
usability principles that balance systems components of technology, procedures, and human needs. This
chapter offered an overview of ergonomic principles related to software design, hardware design, and
Human factors principles that help define quot;user friendlyquot; software were discussed within three
categories: user interfaces, screen layout, and performance support (learning aids). Command-, menu-,
icon-, natural language-, pen-, and speech recognition technology-based interface systems were
described. Issues related to effective interface design that centered on the need to provide users with a
conceptual understanding of the interface and control the dialogue with the system were discussed.
Guidelines for screen layouts that support data entry and software usability were outlined. Performance
support, including paper-based documentation, help facilities, and on-line reference were discussed.
Hardware design issues centered on the need for comfortable and safe monitors and keyboards. Health
problems categorized as repetitive stress syndrome (RSI) or repetitive motion syndrome (RMI), include
eye fatigue and strain, carpal tunnel syndrome, musculoskeletal disorders, fatigue, and stress are often
attributed to the monitor and the design of keyboards and workstations. Conventional CRT monitors
were compared to newer, yet much more expensive counterparts, LCD panels. In comparing monitors,
the purchaser is wise to consider difference among options in terms of characteristics including
resolution, size, glare, and reflection. Likewise, the purchaser has options with regard to keyboards.
Keystroke pressure, tactile and auditory feedback, keyboard layout and profile, and key finish and
shape--all affect user productivity. Mouse technology, likewise, is evolving. The mouse comes in any
number of different sizes and shapes; the best mouse is one that the user finds most comfortable.
The workplace has changed dramatically as a result of information technology. Traditional principles
of office layout and design are no longer applicable, or not as applicable as they once were.
AMCO-PACT, a framework for office design, helps the planner balance the ideal with real-life
In addition to layout, environmental impacts such as lighting, sound, air quality, and color have an
impact on worker productivity, health, and morale. Bright colors, for example, are typically cafeteria,
not workplace, colors. Optimum lighting for computer use is not the same as lighting for other tasks,
such as writing or sorting. Noise can make conversation or concentration difficult. The computer adds
as much heat to a room as body heat from a worker, and this has an impact on an organization's HVAC
requirements. Color schemes also impact productivity and worker morale.
Finally, the workstation, an individual's work area, must be examined from both a technical and a
human perspective. It is known, for example, that a good chair promotes good posture, that the proper
table height can relieve musculoskeletal disorders, and that a flexible keyboard allows individuals to
adjust their sitting positions, which is especially important for individuals who must sit at a desk for
hours on end. People behave in predictable patterns. Issues of territoriality, personal space, backs and
sides, status, and the need for socialization also have an impact on workstation design that supports
In short, worker health and comfort can impact productivity. Software, hardware, and workspace design
can be addressed through human factors. Applications of ergonomic principles already known, and still
being developed, can have a very positive outcome for the organization and the individual.
A. Bring two different office chairs into the classroom, one chair ergonomically designed, the other more
traditional. Have students evaluate each chair, describing them in ergonomic terms, and assessing their
comfort and applicability to a VDT operator's job and to a manger's job.
B. Bring several different keyboards into the classroom. The discussion of their design and comfort could
be centered around a comparison of the keyboards.
2. Field Trips:
A. Visit a local business office. Have students write a detailed report on the visit, describing its layout, air
quality, noise level, equipment, furniture, colors, design, and so on.
B. Visit the showroom of an office furniture supplier. Have students compare cost and quality of chairs,
tables, and office accessories.