All posts filed under “Engineering design

What is demand, really?

What is demand, really?

In a lot of the debate and discussion about energy, future electricity generation and metering, improved efficiency and influencing consumer behaviour – at least from an engineering perspective – the term “demand” is used, in conjunction with “supply”, to represent the energy required to be […]

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Instructable: One-Touch Keypad Masher

Instructable: One-Touch Keypad Masher

It’s been a long time since I last wrote an Instructable, but as I’ve resolved that 2009’s going to be a year where I start making things again (2008 involved a lot of sitting, reading and annotating, and in 2007 most of what I made […]

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Eight design patterns for errorproofing

Eight design patterns for errorproofing

Go straight to the patterns One view of influencing user behaviour – what I’ve called the ‘errorproofing lens’ – treats a user’s interaction with a system as a set of defined target behaviour routes which the designer wants the user to follow, with deviations from […]

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Staggering insight

Staggering insight

I’ve mentioned a few times, perhaps more often in presentations than on the blog, the fact that guidelines for the design of pedestrian crossings in the UK [PDF] recommend that where a crossing is staggered, pedestrians should be routed so that they have to face […]

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Finestrino Bloccato

Finestrino Bloccato

Italian railway operator Trenitalia has a simple way of locking the windows shut in some of its older carriages with (retro-fitted?) air-conditioning. This was on a train from Florence to Pisa; the sticker probably cost more than the screw. I like that. It also allows […]

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Sarah Burwood: Tumble Sums

Sarah Burwood: Tumble Sums

We’ve covered teaching machines and programmed learning textbooks a few times on the blog, and I’ll admit to a general fascination with analogue computing and similar ideas, ever since reading John Crank‘s Mathematics and Industry as a teenager, after finding it in a skip (dumpster) […]

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Exploiting the desire for order

Exploiting the desire for order

I met a lot of remarkable people in Finland, and some of them – they know who they are – have given me a lot to think about, in a good way, about lots of aspects of life, psychology and its relation to design. Thanks […]

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Lights reminding you to turn things off

Lights reminding you to turn things off

Duncan Drennan, who writes the very thoughtful Art of Engineering blog, notes something extremely interesting: standby lights, if they’re annoying/visible enough, can actually motivate users to switch the device off properly: Our DVD player has (to me) the most irritating standby light that I have […]

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Un-hiding an affordance

Un-hiding an affordance

These (pretty shallow) steps in Dawlish, Devon, have been labelled as such, presumably because without this, some visitors wouldn’t notice, and would run, cycle or wheelchair down them and hurt themselves or others. Painting a white line along the edge is a common way of […]

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User-Centred Design for Sustainable Behaviour

User-Centred Design for Sustainable Behaviour

TU Delft’s Renee Wever and Jasper van Kuijk (who runs the insightful Uselog product usability blog), together with NTNU’s Casper Boks, have produced a very interesting paper, ‘User-Centred Design for Sustainable Behaviour’ [PDF, 400 kb] for the International Journal of Sustainable Engineering (indeed, probably in […]

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One-way turn of the screw

One-way turn of the screw

One-way screws, such as the above (image from Designing Against Vandalism, ed. Jane Sykes, The Design Council, London, 1979) are an interesting alternative to the usual array of tamper-proof ‘security fasteners’ (which usually require a special tool to fit and remove). There’s a very interesting […]

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