10 Essential Features Of Good Ergonomic Design Tech Developers Often Overlook

When tech designers are developing a new website, app or product, they usually focus closely on functionality, ease of use and, most importantly, the user experience. But there’s more to a good user experience than attractive graphics or fun interfaces. The best-designed tech will always be centered on ergonomics—the ways humans interact physically and mentally with the tools they use, particularly in the workplace.


Tech hardware and software, as well as websites and apps, should always be designed with the health and comfort of the user in mind if they’re to be fully effective and inclusive. Below, 10 tech experts from Forbes Technology Council share important aspects of good ergonomic design that tech developers sometimes overlook and why it’s so important to get these features right.

1. ADA Compliance

Making your website ADA-compliant is not only the right thing to do, but it also opens your doors to additional visitors. Many low-cost tools make this an easy and transparent thing to do. Ensuring your site is ADA-compliant is a no-brainer. - David Moise, Decide Consulting

2. Hand Size And Reach

Tech developers often forget that with the larger size of modern smartphones, one-handed operation gives a typical adult thumb comfortable access to only the bottom-right two-thirds of the screen. Interface elements in the upper left of the screen are only accessible through uncomfortable contortions, secret OS features or by using your second hand. - Sam Glassenberg, Level Ex

3. Cross-Device Accessibility

Accessibility and usability across devices are essential. Users are working on laptops more often than on dual monitors—or even on their phones—and are switching between touchscreens, trackpads and mice. An ergonomic design needs to take into consideration how modern workers increasingly switch between different devices and screen sizes. - Rich Waldron, Tray.io

4. Color

Designers should not overlook the importance of color. Color is one of the most critical communication elements, and it takes a lot to get colors right. Colors are important for establishing emotional connections. Research has shown that color affects people’s moods and even how they absorb information. - Øyvind Forsbak, Orient Software Development Corp.

5. Haptic Feedback

Haptic feedback is impossible to see in a screenshot and is often missed when simply translating a Web experience to mobile. But on devices that support haptics, it can provide another piece of sensory feedback that can really personalize the experience. Used strategically for critical actions that carry a lot of weight, haptic feedback will help the user feel confident that an action was processed correctly. - Luke Wallace, Bottle Rocket

6. Simplicity

In ergonomics, simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, but effectiveness often takes a backseat to aesthetics. How well something works should always be the top priority in IT, but “bells and whistles” often prevail. Unfortunately, the “this can work” and “everybody’s doing it” approaches are popular. This is a topic that leaders of the tech industry should really address. - Robert Strzelecki, TenderHut

7. Intuition

Many apps are designed in similar ways to others, with well-accepted meanings and locations for key things. Moving these around means users have to override their instincts for where something should be, and your design will contradict everyone else’s. Imagine switching the gas and brake pedals on a car! - Noah Mitsuhashi, Portfolio Insider

8. Comprehensive Accessibility Needs

Accessibility must be all-inclusive—that means software must be accessible to and usable by people of all abilities. Not only must it be easy to use and adaptive for people with disabilities, but it must also be responsive to all platforms and devices. For example, your website should have different ergonomics for desktops, Android or iOS tablets, and mobile devices. - Zheng Fan, University of Miami Herbert Business School

9. Left-Handedness

While I’m right-handed, I am sympathetic to left-handed people, as many products are built without considering them. Many electronics, such as cameras, gaming controllers and some power equipment, could be ergonomically designed for left-handed people. - Spiros Liolis, Micro Focus

10. People Who Don’t Fit Averages

There should be basic and fundamental designs for people who don’t fit averages—people who are shorter, taller, have different body styles and so on. Most products are designed for averages, but many humans across the globe don’t fit into these average ranges. - Laureen Knudsen, Broadcom


This article was originally published on Forbes.com.

Published by Bottle Rocket in Technology, Inclusive Design, Ergonomic Software Design, Forbes