For true ergonomic success, look no further than your fingertips. The best example for quality design might be the 140-year-old typewriter with the QWERTY keyboard layout. Unfortunately, you don’t have to look much further to be frustrated by everyday ergonomic “design” failures.
The premise of ergonomics is to engineer efficiency and comfort in the working environment. Smart ergonomics are well-designed, user-friendly and intuitive. Yet, judging by countless daily encounters with poorly designed products, this obvious goal is difficult or costly to achieve.
Three epic ergonomic failures, which simply defy logic, come to mind:
- Airplane seats: You’re stranded in your seat for hours and hours, bored out of your mind, and unable to get up to stretch your cramping legs. Like in a two-hour college lecture course, only worse. What sadistic person designed airplane seats to be so confining that you’re obliged to disrupt and unseat your fellow passengers just to use the restroom? Even in movie theaters there’s enough space to stand or turn your legs in-place to allow for passersby. To add potential injury to insult, reclining seats limit your space even further.
- Public bathroom stalls: Another seating-related ergonomic fiasco is the public bathroom stall. As if these “conveniences” aren’t naturally disgusting, a common design impedes access and maneuverability by providing zero clearance between the inward opening door and the toilet.
- Car keys: Some ergonomic designs are not only bad, but dangerous. Such as, the non-retractable car key. Case-in-point, one model Volvo key measures three-and-three-quarter inches in length from the bulbous button feature to its protruding pointy tip. No joke, the design is flat out hazardous to mankind, who typically carry this sharp plastic bayonet in the front pockets of our pants.
Bottom line, better design should not be an afterthought. The commonsensical keyboard should be a daily reminder to think ergonomically as well as economically.