January 22, 2004

Designing for People, Chapter 2: Joe and Josephine

Don Norman deservedly gets a lot of credit for making people aware of the need for user-centered design with his seminal book "The Design of Everyday Things," published in 1988. But 33 years before then, Henry Dreyfuss was talking up this philosophy, and his devotion to it is made clear when he devotes his second chapter to Joe and Josephine -- the archetypal people for whom Dreyfuss creates all his designs.

Designing for People Joe
Joe. Click image to enlarge.

Designing for People Josephine and Joe, Jr.
Josephine and Joe, Jr. Click image to enlarge.

(These creations were given their own book, The Measure of Man and Woman: Human Factors in Design)

The product of extensive research with human physiology, these personas helped Dreyfuss and his team design products that respond to actual physical form. Such data aided in the design of everything from a steam iron to a tank.

And the research isn't limited just to physical motor capabilities. All the senses are considered, particularly vision. And vision isn't just about how we see (or don't see, as with color-blindness), but the cognitive and emotional effect that what we see can have on us.

Where Dreyfuss falls short, and where Don picked up, is understanding the cognitive processes that allow us to make sense of the world. Still, this work in early human factors was ground-breaking, and if designers today paid more attention to this decades-old understanding, we users of products would be a lot less frustrated.

Oh, and I just love this little illustration from page 31.
Designing for People Operator

One annoying-though-at-times-endearing thing about a book written in 1955 by a man who design products for a consumer audience is how it unabashedly uses gender stereotypes, particularly with women, who are depicted cleaning, ironing, being a telephone operator, etc.

Posted by peterme at 10:20 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


See Me Travel
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
Archives from June 13, 2001 to January 2003
Archives from before June 13, 2001
Recent Entries
Designing for People, Chapter 2: Joe and Josephine
Subscribe to my feed:
Powered by
Movable Type 3.2