Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The cranky user: Ergonomics, Part 1: The science of not hurting the user

With aching hands and wrists, the cranky user writes about ergonomics, from in-home doctor visits to the proper time for font smoothing.
Most people, if you mention work-related injuries, think of vast machinery, hydraulic presses, gears, and missing or mangled limbs. In fact, computer-related injuries are pretty common (and I'm not just talking about dropping the monitor on your foot).

Ergonomics is a field full of superstitions and rumors. Fads are commonplace. People do a lot of things which may or may not really help; they even do a few things which hurt.

Failure to take ergonomics seriously can have real, permanent effects. Some people can no longer type on a keyboard. One woman at a newspaper where my mother worked was encouraged to bravely soldier on, typing even though her wrists hurt and she couldn't feel her fingers anymore. Now she's on lifetime disability and I think both she and the company regret it. (Via IBM)

Superstitions - User Interface Design, Human Computer Interaction (HCI), Ergonomics

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