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Definition of Ergonomics

Ergonomics derives from two Greek words: ergonomics, meaning work, and nomoi, meaning natural laws, creating a word that signifies the science of work and the relationship of a person to that work.

The International Ergonomics Association has adopted this technical definition: ​”ergonomics (or human factors) is the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data and methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance.”

That is not the best definition of what ergonomics is. Let’s keep things quick. Ergonomics is the science of making things comfortable. It makes things important too. And when you think about it, comfy is simply another way to make things more comfortable. Ergonomics also makes things easy and effective for convenience.

What is the study of ergonomics?

It literally means the science of work, in its simplest definition of ergonomics. So ergonomists, i.e. ergonomics practitioners, study work, how to do the work and how to work better.

That ergonomics becomes so useful is the attempt to make work better. And that too is where it comes into play to make things comfortable and efficient.

In terms of products, ergonomics is commonly thought about. However, it can be equally useful when designing services or processes.

What is comfort?

The warmth is more than just a fuzzy handle. Comfort is one of the most important aspects of the success of a product. A primary concern for ergonomic design is comfortable in the human-machine interface and the mental dimensions of the product or service.

Comfort is typically first found within the human-machine interface. Physical comfort is appealing to the consumer in the way an object feels. If you don’t like doing it, so you won’t. When you don’t do it, so you won’t do it. If you don’t use it then it’s worthless.

An item’s utility is the only true measure of its design quality. Any designer’s job is to find innovative ways to boost a product’s utility. Physical comfort improves its usefulness whilst using an object. Making an item intuitive and user-friendly will ensure marketplace success. 

In the human-machine interface, the mental dimension of comfort is contained in the feedback. You got preconceived notions of some stuff. A quality product should feel like made from high-quality materials. If it’s flimsy and lightweight, you won’t feel too confident using it.

A product’s look, sound, use, and reliability help you make a mind-determination about a product or service. In essence, it lets you determine the item’s quality and compare it to the cost. Good ergonomics means a better price, meaning you’ll be more confident with the item’s value.


What Is Efficiency?

Efficiency is quite simply making something easier to do. Efficiency comes in many forms, however.​

  • Reducing the strength required makes a process more physically efficient.
  • Reducing the number of steps in a task makes it quicker (i.e. efficient) to complete.
  • Reducing the number of parts makes repairs more efficient.
  • Reducing the amount of training required, i.e. making it more intuitive, gives you more people who are qualified to do the job. Imagine how inefficient waste disposal would be if your teen couldn’t take the garbage out.

Efficiency can be found just about anywhere. If it’s easier to do something you are more inclined to do it. If you do something, then it’s more effective. Once again, efficiency is the only true measure of a design’s consistency.

And if you do something more often happily, you’ll have a greater chance to like it. You’ll be more comfortable doing that if you like to do it.

So when you hear the term ergonomics next time you know what that means to you. And that is, hopefully, a comforting thought.

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