8 Interaction design
8.1 Making usable products
This section reveals that many modern products need to usable by our minds as much as our bodies. Products need to be understandable, and present information and feedback in meaningful ways.
A lot of ergonomics research is aimed at establishing guidelines, standards or rules that can be applied by designers in a variety of situations. Where this applies to the physical use of products, much of it is based on standard body measurements. These body measurements are known as anthropometrics.
In performing tasks, many other human factors besides physical height, reach, etc, have to be taken into account by equipment designers. The growth of applications of computers, and the incorporation of microprocessors in products, has meant that interaction design has become a major new area of application for human factors research. Many of us now use information technology devices either directly, such as in computer work, or indirectly in products that have embedded computers. We interact with products daily – from setting a clock-radio or the central heating, to using cash-point machines or buying goods on the Internet – and so interaction design has become a part of the design of most electronic products.
Interaction design is concerned with the usability of products and machines, particularly with respect to how they present information to users and respond to commands and inputs from the user.
If you wish, this would be a good point to watch a short video clip from Phillip Joe, (former) Head of Interaction Design at IDEO Product Development, London.