I have spent 15 years as a professional ergonomist. I started out life as a psychology graduate, but quickly got excited about how people interact with the equipment around them. At work I use my understanding about how people think and behave to help them be better at their jobs and reduce the risk of accidents. I work in the design of big bits of equipment, and have spent most of my career looking at defence and aviation. But then I come home, and I spend time in the wilds of the real world.
When you have a psychology degree - people often ask “are you analysing me” - and you get pretty used to saying no, explaining that you are not that kind of a psychologist, and that even if you were you probably wouldn’t be doing that everyday. However, as I have spent more time understanding how people interact with the world around them, I have realised the answer is a bit more complicated than that.
I started to realise that I analyse myself a lot. When I can’t work out how a piece of equipment works, when I make a mistake, when I struggle with something I usually find easy. I don’t just explain it away, or figure I must be inept in some way. I start wondering what about the equipment, the environment, the process, or me in that situation that led me to be unable to unlock my front door.
And that is what I am going to talk about in this blog.
I am going to share my analysis of me in the world of everyday design. My little thrill when I find something that works perfectly and my sense of frustration when the design of an object has made my life more complicated. I will call out the good, the bad, and the ugly. I will review them through the lens of ergonomics and human factors, with a bit of psychology thrown in.
I hope that in doing this you, my lovely readers, will share my passion for everyday design, tell me what you think about the objects I talk about, and share your experiences of ergonomics in the wild.