From Human Factors for Engineers
Jan Noyes

The reasonable Man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends upon the unreasonable Man.

George Bernard Shaw, 1903

4.1 Introduction

Man has dominated planet Earth for thousands of years, and we have only to look at our environment to see all the things that humans have created. In an ideal world, all the objects used by us should have been designed with this in mind. For example, the tables, the chairs, the lighting in my current surroundings, should all meet my physical and work needs in terms of their design. Not all objects fall into this category, namely, those pieces that have been created to fulfil our aesthetic needs, e.g. objets d'art, paintings, pottery, sculptures, etc. A simple classification, therefore, for objects in the world is that they fall into three categories: those belonging to the natural world about whose design we can do little (although biological advances are now challenging this view), those objects that we create for our aesthetic needs, and those that are developed for us to use. It is the third group that is of interest here. The aim of this chapter is to provide a broad overview of the issues surrounding human factors methods and tools.

In theory, all the objects in the built world should have been carefully designed for the human user. In practice, this is not the case and we are surrounded by poor design. As...

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