Create a digital human model using software, and dictate final design choices based on simulations. Easy-peasy, right? Big time wrong! The first mistake that people make is thinking that a simulation can solve all your problems. A digital human model can be an amazing tool used throughout the iterative design process, but we should not mistake it for the magic wand to create perfect designs.
What does create the perfect design? Short answer is a process that, in the end, the user feels the design is perfect. Human behaviour is an extremely complex thing to understand, which is why designers are often intimidated about including them in their system model. The reality is that the human is one of the most complex and important components of almost all system models. Therefore, not including them on your list of components that dictate the limits of your design is a fundamental design flaw. The second mistake people make is thinking that knowing population anthropometrics, and interviewing one person who did the job ten years ago, checks the box for including human factors in their digital human model.
Since working at HSI®, I have learned that optimal designs integrate human factors from the very beginning. Starting at the system requirement definition stage, and continuing all the way through the iterative design process, including modeling, prototype evaluation, and making final design choices based on user performance while conducting their job task. This systematic approach to integrating human factors throughout the design process has led me to develop a systematic approach to digital human modeling that includes the user along every step of the way. As mentioned, this isn’t going to be the easiest or quickest way to use digital human modeling in the design process, but it will be, hands-down, the most effective way.