Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Bad Designs: Opening the File Drawer

Bad Designs: Opening the File Drawer
[人因工程 ]

Bad Designs: Opening the File Drawer

Recently, we got new file cabinets in our offices. The new file cabinets fit under our tables and are on wheels. During the first week that I used my file cabinet, when I tried to open the top file drawer, I found myself pulling the handle on the top (See arrow.) Guess what happened?

As shown in the photo on the left, the handle on the top doesn't open the top file drawer. Instead, it pulls the whole file cabinet out from under the table, which I accidently did quite often during that first week! When I visited other people's offices, I noticed that they were having the same problem.

The problem is that the handle to move the cabinet is very close to the top drawer and it is more obvious than the actual handle (See arrow) for the top drawer. Thus, it is easy to mistake the top handle as the handle for the top drawer. One is much more likely to want to open the file drawer than to move the cabinet, so the handle to move the cabinet should be less obvious.

Design Recommendations:

After about a week or two, I didn't make the mistake of trying to use the handle on the top to open the drawer. But if the handle on the top was not so obvious, I would never have had the problem in the first place. For example, if the handle on top had been recessed like the drawer handles as shown on the photo on the left, it wouldn't be as likely to be used accidently.

Editor's Comments:

The author of is a highly qualified expert in Ergonomics and Human Factors Engineering, living and working in the United States, perhaps the most technologically advanced nation on earth. Yet even he must put up with a personal environment rife with obviously flawed design. This is highly ironic, and speaks volumes about the institutional inertia inherent within all societies. Many design problems are not amenable to purely technical solutions because the problem lies deeper, with public awareness. Ergonomics conscious design professionals can and must lead the way, but in the end a critical mass of the public must first become aware of the hidden cost flawed design exacts on them personally. They must become demanding consumers who simply will not accept defective designs. Only then will technical remedies truly take hold, and not before.

-- Bevin Chu

Explanation: Bad Designs: Opening the File Drawer
Illustration: Opening the File Drawer
Author: Michael J. Darnell
Affiliation: Bad Human Factors Designs
Publication Date: 1998-1999
Original Language: English
Editor: Bevin Chu, Registered Architect

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