Usability_Environmental_Cheslea Eckberg

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Eco-Friendly Vs. Usability. Usability is the level of friendliness and ease of use of products and interfaces. Products should be easy to use, designed clearly, and fit the needs of the user. (1) Often companies design products without considering usability, and the users end up using only 5 percent of the features available to them, or the product ends up sitting at the store un-purchased.

hemi-powered-grill.jpg
(high powered grill = not so eco-friendly)

Considering the discussion we had in class the other day about adjustable office chairs. These crazy chairs with all they adjustable parts are made for people to create the perfect chair for their body-type and become more comfortable when sitting. But, because these chairs have so many different levers and knobs, the usability of the product becomes very difficult. Many people adjust one or two levers and leave the rest. This is where the 5 percent of the features are being used. Sure there are directions to be read on how to adjust the chairs, but a large percent of people don't read directions that come with products.

Now chairs are being invented where they are made from less material and give the support people need. Usability is being considered along with the environment. There are less materials being wasted in the production of the chair, the design is easy to use, while fitting the needs of the user.

aeron_chair_jn.jpg

The Aeron chair by Herman Miller is just that. It has broken the mold as well as the "rules". This chair is said to be the best selling chair of all time and has also been featured in the Museum of Modern Art. This environmentally sustainable chair was "constructed and planned to be the greenest most responsible chair ever". It is sleek, devoid of foam or stuffing and features several design elements that are very different from your average office chair.

"The Aeron chair's seat curved upwards at the edges, cradling the hips and creating a comfort pocket for the user. The lip of the seat curved downward, saving thighs from the wear and tear of eight-hour days at the desk, and increasing user circulation. The back of the chair didn't subscribe to straight lines either; it had been designed for support, curving inward to the small of the back then fanning out to the shoulders, keeping posture erect and comfort intact." (2)

The environment and usability were two of the many things considered when designing this chair. "Thinking about every aspect of the product for how it will be used to who will us it is the only way to move forward into uncharted territories in the design world". (Don Chadwick, Aeron designer)

1.http://www.greenprophet.com/2008/08/28/2082/eco-friendly-vs-usability/
2.http://www.smartfurniture.com/products/Aeron-Chair.html

The chair is a very good example of combining the usability vs environmental issues; however, I wished you would have gone into further detail or pulled out another item that maybe we weren't so familiar with. The grill at the front is huge, dramatic and impactful, you could have discussed more about how un-enviromentally friendly it is.

Also, there is often a third major player on this usability vs environmentally friendly battle, cost. While they are often using less materials, environmentally friendly products are still running at a much higher price point. In order to swing consumer purchases towards more eco-friendly products we must figure out a way of lowering the price point.

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This page contains a single entry by Chelsea Eckberg published on April 27, 2010 1:59 PM.

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