Science Teaching Series

Internet Resources

I. Developing Scientific Literacy

II. Developing Scientific Reasoning

III. Developing Scientific Understanding

IV. Developing Scientific Problem Solving

V. Developing Scientific Research Skills

VI. Resources for Teaching Science

Human Factors / User Interface Design / Human Computer Interface

"Human Factors
has its origins in the Industrial Revolution and emerged as a full-fledged discipline during World War II. It was recognized that aircraft cockpit design needed to consider the human interface for controls and displays. Design Engineers were focused on the technology while Industrial Psychologists worked to optimize the interface. In some cases, Human Factors design can affect bottom-line profitability or can be a life and death matter, e.g., you don't want to push the wrong button or mistake meters for kilometers in a spacecraft. Companies came to realize that a products success is dependent upon good Human Factors design."

Human Factors is often used interchangeably with User Interface Design or Human-Computer Interface. There is a lot of overlap in these disciplines; however, Human Factors generally refers to hardware design while HCI generally refers to software design. Engineering Psychologists work in both disciplines and the overlap is considered greater than the difference.

Optimum Human Factors Design requires a systematic approach to the design process. But, to ensure optimum performance, Usability Testing is required. This empirical testing permits naïve users to provide data about what does work as anticipated and what does not work. Only after the resulting repairs are made can a product be deemed to have a user optimized design.

Today all large corporate and military manufacturers team design engineers with Engineering Psychologists to ensure optimum usability. Some of the prime industries relying on Human Factors for design consideration are: High Tech, aircraft, automobile, military, consumer products, and many other companies wanting an edge in the marketplace."

Source: Usernomics, A division of Interface Analysis Associates