User-interface/Interaction v.s. Ergonomics

3 Feb 2004 - 9:33pm
12 years ago
1 reply
1039 reads
mYamamoto at jp...

Dear all,
I would like to hear about your thoughts how much the field of
user-interface design and interaction design related to "Ergonomics."
And how much we can learn from "Ergonomics" about the interaction design?
Then, why?

This, I have been thinking of for long time.
Looking back in 1990s, I learnt the user-interface design partially
applying the discipline of human factors study in a university, and I
realize there are any thing I can take from the field of Ergonomics.
Nowadays, Ergonomics people think everybody have to come to them to ask
about user-interface and usability.
Actually, we can find a lot of Ergonomics consulting offer the service in
user-interface design and even web design.
How do they do? And what is the most different outcome we can expect
usability design firms from ergonomics design firms.

Explaining the situation in Japan, the relationship about Ergonomics and
Usability is very close.
1) The most of user-interface/interaction researchers who work in analysis
of user-interface have the ergonomics background.
2) The international standard committee relating to usability belong to the
ergonomics society, and they try to rule in this field.
3) The ergonomics includes cognitive aspect in 90s, and pretend they have
been studying this for long time.

I think the filed of ergonomics and user-interface/interaction
study/practice is close: relation between artifacts and human,
but the aspect or perspective is very different. Every time I discuss with
ergonomics people, they like to treat the usability problems in
probability, and they like to conclude what is the human nature, e.t.c.
Those make me feel they are different.
Since I do not live in US and other countries, I will be very appreciated
if you provide your thoughts.

Masayasu Yamamoto

IT and Communications Systems Security
IT Services and Innovation
TUV Rheinland Japan Ltd.

Telephone: 045 470 3511
Facsimile: 045 470 3460
e-mail: masayasu.yamamoto at


5 Feb 2004 - 9:53am
Dan Saffer

In brief, I would say that ergonomics has the same relationship to
industrial design that usability does to interaction design:
quantitative measures to measure qualitative work.

Like usability, it's a related discipline, and knowing about it helps
when designing products, especially those with a physical component.

This may be a cultural difference, but I don't know of many US firms
who are known for ergonomics also doing usability studies and
especially not interaction or UI design.

I think designing from a strictly quantitative point of view will
result in some seriously ugly designs. Like say...



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