Basics of Human Factors Engineering for UX Designers

Dano Qualls
Jan 20, 2017 · 10 min read

The signal in the physical world is the foundation of design. We can understand how the human system works in order to design the most effective signals in a world full of distractions.

1. Detection and Discrimination

Can they see/hear/feel it at a biological level?

Key takeaway: Humans are great at detecting change and contrast.

Bandwidth of our senses, by Tor Nørretranders

2. Grouping and Organization

How does the mind group signals at a pre-attentive level?

Key takeaway: The brain is a cognitive miser and finds patterns to reduce its workload — even if there wasn’t supposed to be a pattern there.

3. Meaning and Working Memory

Can they find meaning at a cognitive level?

Key takeaway: Working memory has a limited capacity, limited duration, is highly volatile, and is affected by motivation.

Limited Capacity

Limited Duration

Highly Volatile

Image courtesy of Unsplash

Motivation and Anxiety

Designing for Cognitive Load

4. Learning and Long-Term Memory

Can they retain and recall knowledge at a metacognitive level?

Key takeaway: People expect new systems to mirror the ones they already know, but they can learn new ones with greater ease with help from cognitive scaffolding.

5. Decision Making

How do they act on what they know?

Key takeaway: Humans are bad at conceptualizing decisions they can’t see, so they choose an option that’s easy to pick to reduce the anxiety of not knowing.

Wrapping it Up

Dano Qualls

Written by

Product designer |

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