Human Factors

Overview The creation of  high quality software goes beyond simply assembling a team of great programmers. We've all used software applications that were difficult to learn, non intuitive, and more frustrating to use than fun! On the other hand, well designed, intuitive programs increase productivity and enhance the quality of the work being performed. Many people and organizations study the factors that make software user-friendly. Follow the links below to learn more about the human factors inherent in software development.

General Information For information about the interaction design books, The Inmates are Running the Asylum (Programmerís Press, 1999) and About Face: The Essentials of User Interface Design (Programmers Press, 1995), link to Alan Cooperís Web site. Visit this interesting Web page or this online technical writing guide for information about creating user-friendly instruction manuals. The Carnegie Mellon Human-Computer Interaction Institute ( provides news, links, and research publications on the topic of human-computer interaction. Craig Marionís Software Design Smorgasbord page ( provides information about topics including user interface design, usability engineering, and human-computer interaction. The Human Factor and Ergonomics Society page ( also contains valuable information about human-computer interaction. Ineffective user interfaces are not isolated to just computers. Visit Michael J. Darnellís Bad Designs Web site ( to find a virtual scrapbook of everyday examples of bad design--from toothpaste to staplers.

Additional Links For more information on human factors, Dr. Dobb's is another resource thatís worth investigating. This Web site has industry news, product reviews, career information, and articles on issues such as project management, and global deployment. The Design Center article "Requirements Engineering Patterns", in the May 2000 issue, is definitely worth reading if youíre interested in learning about some of the standards for software design.

The Software Engineering Institute (SEI) at Carnegie Mellon University publishes research results about effective software development. You can find this information on the SEIís Web site ( Similar information can be found at the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Software Engineering Laboratory, or SEL, (