Factors & Ergonomics
What are Human Factors,
Ergonomics & Anthropometrics?
Anthropometrics is the data which concerns the
dimensions of human beings.
• Designers need to makes sure that the products they
design are the right size for the user and therefore
comfortable to use. Designers have access to books of
drawings like these which state measurements of human
beings of all sizes.
• Examples at work…
Knowing about percentiles is an important part of becoming a responsible designer.
• Human Factors;
Human factors involves the study of all aspects of the
way humans relate to the world around them, with the
aim of improving operational performance, safety,
through life costs and/or adoption through improvement
in the experience of the end user.
• The science of understanding the properties of human
capability (Human Factors Science).
• Examples at work…
Did you know that the U.S. military is responsible for the majority of data on
It was a result out of WWII aircraft design and engineering.
Ergonomics is the scientific discipline concerned with designing according to
the human needs, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data
and methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall
system performance. The field is also called human engineering, and
human factors engineering.
Ergonomic research is primarily performed by ergonomists, who study
human capabilities in relationship to their work demands. Information
derived from ergonomists contributes to the design and evaluation of tasks,
jobs, products, environments and systems in order to make them
compatible with the needs, abilities and limitations of people
Examples at work..
A poorly designed work station can produce long term medical conditions.
Why should designers be aware of
anthropometrics, human factors and
• Allows designers to accommodate various percentiles of
the population so the majority of people can use and
interact with the product or service being designed.
• Designers must be aware of human factors,
anthropometrics and ergonomics to ensure their product
or service is safe and socially responsible. (designing
public places is especially sensitive to these conditions)
The Impact of Human Factors,
Ergonomics & Anthropometry on Design
• A designer can use Human Factors,
Ergonomics & Anthropometry to their
advantage or these things may work
against their design. Good design
observes these qualities first because no
one wants to use or own a product or
service which carries out the task poorly or
Consider the following….
• A Toilet designed by a fashion designer
Fashion designers work to a fantasy of
what the human body looks like. They are
taught how to draw human figures in a
distorted, idealized way.
The impact designers can have
• The two figures in the middle are typical of
fashion design drawings. Designs are based on
these oddly proportioned, fantasy, body shapes.
• The figures on either side were statistical
averages from a series of anthropometrics
studies done with US military personnel. Whilst
limited to a select age range and profession,
these nonetheless are based on measurable
and observable reality. These are real body
shapes. ( From Human Dimension & Interior
Space by Julius Panero and Martin Zelnilk)
As illustrated in the two middle sketches of the human form.
• If a product designer were to work off the same
fantasy body shapes that fashion designers do,
a typical toilet would look like this.
• None of us would willingly climb a stepladder
every time we need to use our toilet - how silly
would that be? And yet, why is it that we
continue to try and fit into clothes that were not
designed for our bodies to begin with, or shoes
that are uncomfortable and damage our feet?
• This is most peculiar.
The result is a tall, narrow and most uncomfortable toilet.
Where can we find information on body
sizes, shapes, standard furniture sizes,
• Human Factor Texts
• Resource Manuals
• Making your own anthropometric data
Henry Dreyfuss, one of America’s first
Industrial Designers was instrumental in
using human dimensions to
Improve the products people interact with
on a daily basis.
Henry Dreyfuss; One of America’s First
• Dreyfuss was born in Brooklyn, New York. As
one of the celebrity industrial designers of the
1930s and 1940s, Dreyfuss dramatically
improved the look, feel, and usability of dozens
of consumer products. As opposed to Raymond
Loewy and other contemporaries, Dreyfuss was
not a stylist: he applied common sense and a
scientific approach to design problems. His work
both popularized the field for public
consumption, and made significant contributions
to the underlying fields of ergonomics,
anthropometrics, and human factors.
Some of Dreyfuss’ Designs...
Did you know that John Deere hired Dreyfuss to “Modernize” the look of the
What do we do with all of this data
on the human form?
• In the first slide we observed that there are individual
differences in human characteristics. These follow a
normal distribution. This is true with anthropometric
• You may have heard the expression "to design for the
5th percentile female to the 95th percentile male." This
means that for the selected anthropometric measure,
such as height, the lower limit of our range is the height
of a 5th percentile female and the upper limit is the
height of a 95th percentile male. This range
accommodates 90% of the population for that one
• We again use the concept of "population." This
is important in anthropometrics as there are
differences in size and body segment
proportions due to age, gender, and ethnicity.
So, to properly select the data to use, we must
know something about our population
composition, and we must know what
percentage of the population we wish to
accommodate. The anthropometric range will
be much different if we are designing products
for male, professional basketball players than if
we are designing for the general public.
Application of the Anthropometric Data
• In choosing the proper anthropometric
measurements to use, we must know not only
the user population, but also the specific
application or design problem. If we are
designing overhead luggage racks for public
transportation, accommodating 90% of the rider
population is probably sufficient. However, if we
are determining the position of an emergency
button, we should design to accommodate 99%
of the rider population, including wheelchair
A Guide to Designing with Human
Factors in mind.
Step 1. Understand Organizational/Mission Need
Step 2.Understand and Define Context of Use
Step 3.Perform Function Analysis
Step 4.Allocate Functions
Step 5.Analyze and Design Tasks
Step 6.Design Human-to-System Interfaces &
References, Resources & Links
(a great website to help illustrate bad design when thinking of
(an excellent site with a quiz)