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Blog Post 2: Task Analysis

Task analysis is often used by human factors specialists in order analyze how a user achieves an outcome. For example, in a task analysis on making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, the human factors specialists would note the steps and tools used to make the sandwich. Task analysis is usually outlined in terms of the sequence of steps.

In hierarchical task analysis, an overall task is broken down into steps and then into sub-steps. Task analysis is a great tool that can be used to determine which processes in a system are able to be automated. In the example of the spaghetti, a researcher may identify that “emptying pasta box into pot” may be able to be automated. 

HTA of making spaghetti from ENP 162 lecture

Another type of task analysis is cognitive task analysis. In cognitive task analysis, researchers analyze the cognitive ways people complete tasks. There are over 100 ways to complete tasks analysis; however, these methods follow the following principles. 

“1) Collect preliminary knowledge 

2) Identify knowledge representations 

3) Apply focused knowledge elicitation methods

4) Analyze and verify data

5) Format results for intended application.” 

Cognitive task analysis is often used to define the necessary amount of knowledge when completing a task. This can be highly important in reducing human error in professional place settings; for example, a cognitive task analysis could be performed in order to determine the process of landing an aircraft.

Cognitive task analysis is a great way to get a detailed representation of how a task is completed. In addition, cognitive task analysis can be a tool used in identifying automation capabilities by illustrating the level of cognitive complexity a step requires. Unfortunately, cognitive task analysis is an intensive task that is resource-intensive. In addition, cognitive task analysis does not identify the non-cognitive requirements that are needed to complete a task. 

An alternative way to present a task analysis. Source.

In conclusion, task analysis can be used in academia and industry in order to better understand users and sources of potential conflict. With regards to automation, task analysis clearly outlines concrete steps in a program, which can then be used to identify potential steps that can be automated. In the end, task analysis is a highly beneficial framework that can reveal more about users and inform design decisions. 


Project 2: Automation

Project 2 was a group project presented on my partner’s website:

Blog Post 1: Hello World!

         Hello! Welcome to my ENP 162 Portfolio. ENP 162 is a Tufts University course named “Human-Machine System Design.”

         My name is Blake Williams, and I am a master’s student studying human factors engineering. I’m from Florida, but I have lived in a host of places in the past: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington DC, and Madrid. In my free time, I like to stay active through a host of activities: soccer, tennis, running, gymnastics, CrossFit, and I’ve been part of two dance groups while I’ve been at Tufts.

Tufts University

         I graduated from Tufts University this past year with a degree in Economics and certificate in nutrition and food policy. During the end of my undergraduate years, I was exposed to the field of human factors and was fascinated by finding user-centered solutions to a wide range of problems. In the future, I would like to combine my interests for analyzing business processes with creating the best possible user-experience.

         This website will show my projects and blog posts from ENP 162. I hope that this website will serve as a public way to present my work throughout my time in ENP 162. In addition, I previously used this blog to post about the wide range of careers in human factors. I have kept these blog posts visible on the website so that others can still learn about the endless amount of possibilities in the field of human factors.

The Da Vinci is a robotic surgery assistant that allows for minimally invasive surgery.

         In the course, we learn frameworks and methods to analyze human-machine system designs. Because there are so many different human-machine systems (look around, how many can you count right in front of you?), we get to explore many different types of systems in the course. Whether it be IoT, automated services, or medical device systems, the class will give me a deeper understanding of the mechanics behind the machines I interact with daily.

Computers are an example of a human-machine system.

         I think the class is an exciting opportunity to learn more about how I can better design complex systems; for example, a central question to human-machine systems is whether something should be automated and the factors that we must take into consideration. For example, if a specific feature is automated, will it result in more or less human errors? What is the effect on the older population’s mental health due to decreased social contact? Even if a task has the capacity to be automated, it does not necessarily mean that the task should be automated. By looking at systems through different lenses (e.g. physical, ethical, and cognitive), we are able to better design human-machine systems.  

The future of automation in the manufacturing industry. Click here for more information/source.

         Whether we like it or not, automation and the complexity of human-machine systems will continue to grow increasingly fast in the future, which is why it is so imperative that the field of human factors be studied.

What is a Human Factors Consultant?

What does a human factors consultant do?

A human factors consultant is a broad term and can refer to a consultant that does research, usability testing, event reviews, hazard analysis, workflow assessments, and much more (National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare, 2018). In essence, many of the prior careers I have discussed on this blog–user experience designers, user interface designers, usability engineers–could identify themselves as consultants if they give third party analysis and advice to companies.   This is because a consultant is defined as “one who gives professional advice or services” (Merriam-Webster, 2018).In addition, consultants could work in a myriad of industries: healthcare, aviation, military, consumer products, or technology. Working as a human factors consultant  is an exciting career for one who has a sense of entrepreneurship. Another benefit of working as a freelance consultant or for a consulting business is that one is able to specialize in what they find most interesting.

A human factors consultant may be responsible for critiquing or analyzing a company’s UX design.

What education is required to be a human factors consultant?

“While there are some entry-level opportunities available to those with a bachelor’s degree, most careers in brain science and cognitive psychology begin with a master’s or doctoral degree” (APA, 2018).  In addition, there are other degrees that one could study depending on their interests. For example, advanced degrees in human computer interaction and human factors or ergonomics could also help one break into the consulting field.

Consultants may be responsible for conducting focus groups and interviewing participants.

How much do consultants get paid?

Human factors consultants can make a range of salaries based upon their industry and years of experience. Careers in private consulting are much higher than those in academia and government.  Those with 15+ years experience can expect a salary between $93,000-$152,000, while those with 1-3 years of experience can expect a salary between $61,000-$103,000 (Glassdoor, 2018). In addition, those with doctorate degrees will make a higher salary than those with master or bachelor degree.

Consultants may be responsible for designing a product for a company.

Final Thoughts

I believe that ending my last blog post on the consulting industry in human factors is important because it shows how versatile and broad the human factors field. All one has to want is a desire to improve the systems, interactions, products, and environments that we all interact with on a daily basis. If one is more interested in design or analyzing data, then they have options in which they can specialize in a design or more analytical role.

Works Cited

American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, 2018,

“Consultant.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, 2018,

“Consulting Services.” National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare, National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare, 2018,
“Salary: Human Factors Consultant.” Glassdoor, 2018,,24.htm.

What does a Usability Engineer do?

What’s the difference between a UX designer and a usability engineer? 

Previously, I have spoken about careers in UX and its pertinence to human factors. Usability engineers do work that falls under the UX realm. Although most UX designers are equipped to handle usability testing, there may be instances were a company wants to employ or contract a usability engineer in order to do highly specific testing. In addition, products in the medical device field almost always will require that a third party firm conducts usability testing in order to ensure that the product being tested is not used in a harmful way.

Usability engineers must observe how users interact with products in order to figure out how to improve its ease of use and efficiency.

What do usability engineers do? 

In essence, usability engineers test “how well a user can actually carry out the tasks they want to carry out and find out where the current offering fails to deliver” (Interaction Design Foundation, 2015). In order to do this, the engineers will create questionnaires, conduct interviews,  design tests via software, and much more. These engineers usually have an area of expertise–such as medical devices. This is because many of these industries have established standards that the engineers must be well versed in.

The usability engineers obviously must also be highly analytical. They must use data in order to quantify their claims and the effectiveness of products. Because of this, usability engineers need to be able to use statistical methods and software in order to calculate the significance levels of different tests.

According to Meredith Sivick, as a usability engineer, “we have to learn how people learn and remember, how they sort through data, and what steps they must take when building something” (BLS, 2000). Sivick illustrates a provocative point that usability engineers must grab from multiple fields in order to succeed. From mathematics to psychology, Sivick aims to make products that minimize human frustration and make interacting with machines and environments more enjoyable.

Usability engineers must go through the process above while they conduct their testing.

How do I become a usability engineer? 

Like many other jobs in the humans factors field, many companies require a master degree or higher. This is because, like previously mentioned, usability engineers are responsible for the testing of machines such as medical products where human lives can be at risk. In college, one may want to major in human factors, cognitive psychology, or experimental psychology; however, another option would be to major in computer science and take relevant psychology classes (Shereen, 2018). Master’s degrees in the following fields above can be studied as well as human computer interaction.

How much do usability engineers get paid? 

Usability engineers get paid an average yearly salary of $91, 435; however, this salary can vary with experience and it ranges from $70,000 to $116,000 (Glassdoor, 2018).

Usability engineers must have high observation skills in order to give thoughtful recommendations on how experiences can be improved.

Works Cited
Black, Jessica F., and Shereen Skola. “How Do I Become a Usability Engineer?” WiseGEEK, Conjecture Corporation, 17 Apr. 2018,
“Salary: Usability Engineer.” Glassdoor, 2018,,18.htm.
“Usability Enginner.” BLS, 2000,
“What Is a Usability Engineer?” The Interaction Design Foundation, 2015,

Identifying Locations in Japan: How Japan doesn’t use Street Names in Addresses

Addresses in the United States and most other countries follow the following syntax: street number, street name. Addresses start with a specific indicator, the street number, and then are followed by a broader indicator, the street name. This may seem like a completely intuitive process to identify locations and most people probably would not think of naming locations in another way; however, Japan names its locations using a completely different method.

Each area within a city is given a “neighborhood” name. Streets then create blocks as numbered above and each block has multiple buildings contained in it.

Rather than streets being identifiers like in the United States, the streets in Japan are used to create block numbers (Japan Info, 2015). These block numbers are then used to segment different areas. Buildings within these areas are then numbered based upon the date that they were built. It is for this reason that most streets do not have names. Buildings are identified through signs showing the neighborhood, block, and then building number. This means that the signs go from broad locations to specific locations–unlike in the US that goes from specific to broad.

The sign above first shows the neighborhood, then the block, and then the building number.


Although this system may seem extremely flawed,this type of system is fairly nice in terms of being able to locate something on a map very quickly” (Daven Hiskey, 2012). For example, if two streets were to intersect multiple times, then, with the United States process, this could lead to confusion because it would not be clear which intersection one would be referring to. On the contrary, with the Japanese system, one would just have to identify the block that they are on, which would be must faster to pinpoint by looking at a map.

In the United states, there are many main streets that continue for great distances. Because of this, simply stating which street one is on will not give a precise location. In the Japanese system, however, if one were to state which block number they are on, then this gives a more exact location. Despite this benefit, this also requires users to be very well acquainted with their area in order to know where each block is located. There will be more discussion of this under drawbacks.

This map shows one neighborhood with 9 blocks. Notice how the building numbers do not always appear sequential to one another.


Because buildings are numbered based upon when they were built, buildings aren’t necessarily numbered in sequential order. For example, building one may be placed right next to 17 and building 2 may be on the opposite side of the block. This is particularly troubling when trying to locate buildings because, without a map, one would have to aimlessly walk around the block until they find the correct building number. In order to fix this issue, the Japanese government would have to rename all buildings so that they match a sequential order.

Japan’s system requires users to be very familiar with their surroundings in order to navigate without the use of maps or GPS. This is because users would need to have a mental picture of where the different blocks and different buildings are with respect to one another. This is in contrast to the United States where one would only need to know the names and routes of general main streets in order to get an idea of where certain places are located.

Final Thoughts

In closing, if one is visiting Japan in the near future, it is imperative that they have a reliable GPS in order to minimize confusion while traveling. Quite frankly, Japan would have to do a complete overhaul of their current system in order to address the human factors related issues. Japan’s system is not just full of inadequacies, though. The current system allows for users with in depth knowledge of the area to more precisely indicate locations.

Works Cited

Info, Japan. “How to Navigate the Nameless Streets of Japan – Japan Info.” Japan Info, 3 Nov. 2015,

Whiskey, Daven. “Most Streets in Japan Don’t Have Names.” Today I Found Out, 16 Mar. 2015,

What’s an Ergonomist?

What do ergonomists do?

An ergonomist is responsible for applying human factors principles to product design or working environment. There are many different types of ergonomists: physical, cognitive, and organizational (International Ergonomics Association, 2018).

Ergonomists conduct usability testing in order to better understand how users behave.

Physical ergonomists are responsible for ensuring that products and environments are designed in a manner that optimize human health. For example, a physical ergonomist may be responsible for determining the optimal computer screen angle for users. Cognitive ergonomist work with users’ mental processes when interacting with products or environments. A cognitive ergonomist may be responsible for determining optimal work or stress load. Organizational ergonomist study structures and systems in order to optimize organizations. An organizational ergonomist may be responsible for ensuring productive policies and procedures are enacted in a way that promote efficiency.

What skills do I need to be an ergonomist?

Because so many different types of companies need ergonomists, there are many different types of skills that ergonomists must have. In general, ergonomists must be able to effectively work in team settings as they interact with engineers, users, and other types of people while they work. In addition, ergonomists must be creative problem solvers as they are tasked with challenges that require outside of the box thinking.

In order to gain a general sense of specific skills that ergonomist employers require, I have attached a screenshot of Safran’s Group, an aircraft equipment company, job description for a position titled “Ergonomist.”

As the job description indicates, ergonomists must be experts in their field and possess “soft skills” such as project management.

How much do ergonomists make?

Ergonomists can expect an initial annual salary from $48,000 to $75,367 (American Psychological Association, 2018). It is also important to note that the work setting which one works substantially influences salary. Private consultants with a doctorate have an annual salary of $179,160, while those working in academia earned $92,614. It’s apparent that salaries for ergonomists can greatly vary depending on education and the work setting.

Physical ergonomists must take considerations as shown above in order to design products that are usable and promote good health.

What education do I need to be an ergonomist?

At minimum, ergonomist roles require a bachelor’s degree in human factors, psychology, or a closely related field. It is important to note that most roles will require at least a master’s degree (American Psychological Association, 2018).

An ergonomist measures the distance from the user to the computer screen.

                                                                   Works Cited
“All About Human Factors and Engineering.” American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association,
“Group.” Group | Safran at a Glance, Safran,
“What Is Ergonomics? .” Definition and Domains of Ergonomics | IEA Website, International Ergonomics Association, 2018,

Industrial Design: A Career for the Creative Problem Solver

What does an industrial designer do?

Industrial designers use creativity and science in order to help create meaningful products. Industrial designers are tasked with creating initial designs for products, and, for this reason, they must fully understand their consumer and ways that the product will be used. Industrial designers provide initial sketches of concepts for their clients, and then adjust their designs accordingly until their client is satisfied . According to Sokuna (2018), industrial designers usually specialize in a particular industry. There is a plethora of industries available for industrial designers to work in. For example, industrial designers are needed in the automobile, medical device, children toys, and appliance fields.

Industrial designers produce sketches like the one shown above in order to communicate the elementary phases of product design.

Since industrial designers are instrumental in the creation of products, industrial designers must have a firm grasp on human factors and ergonomics principles. Having a firm understanding of human factors principles is just not essential to the usability of the products industrial designers design but also to the safety of the users interacting with the product. Industrial designers also must successfully balance quality and cost when designing products. Chad Davis (2017), an industrial design expert, notes that it can be hard to convince clients of a better designed product when it increases the cost.

What skills does a successful industrial designer posses? 

According to Chad Davis (2017),  it is imperative that industrial designers have strong creative and strong problem solving skills. This is because industrial designers must be able to come up with original designs that help solve a user’s need. In addition industrial designers must have strong sketching ability and be fluent in CAD programs since this is where they will create their work. Because the product development stage requires input from many different specialists—from engineers to human factors experts—industrial designers must posses strong communication and teamwork skills.

Industrial designers are responsible for working with mechanical engineers, human factors specialists, and many more professions in order to execute successful product design.

What education is necessary?

Sokanu (2018) notes that a college degree in industrial design, architecture, or related field is required for most jobs. If one is studying industrial design in school, Sokuna (2018) notes that students can expect to take classes in “sketching, computer-aided design and drafting (CADD), industrial materials and processes, and manufacturing methods.” In addition, it is vital that designers have a strong portfolio because this is the most important aspect for securing employment in the industry.

Apple is known for being at the forefront of innovative industrial design.

What salary are industrial designers paid?

According to Glassdoor (2018), industrial designers have an average salary of $60,001 per year, but this salary can range from $48,000 to $82,000. It is important to note that those with 0-1 years of experience can expect an average base pay of $51,524 with a range from $40,000 to $70,000, while those with 15+ years of experience can expect an average salary of $75,87 and a range from $60,000 to $104,000.

Industrial designers begin their creation of new products by sketching their ideas.

Works Cited

“Glassdoor Job Search | Find the Job That Fits Your Life.” Glassdoor, “Industrial Designer Interview | Industrial Design Profile.” Chad Davis Interview , 

Macbook Pro Picture.,0.5&.v=1495842439811. 

Sketching Picture.

Sketching Picture,

Teamwork Picture,
What Does an Industrial Designer Do?

The Basics of UI Design

Last week I talked about UX design and its importance in product design. This week I would like to take the time to talk about UI and the differences between UI and UX design.

The chart above explains the different tasks between UX and UI designers.

What’s the difference between UX and UI design?

People will often mistakingly interchange UX and UI design. UX, which stands for user experience, is concerned with creating a product that resonates well with the user. UI, which stands for user interface, is concerned with creating the visual parts of a product—like an app or website. Although these basic definitions sound very similar, it is important to note that they are not the same thing. Ken Norton, a partner at Google Ventures, simply states the difference: “UX is focused on the user’s journey to solve a problem, UI is focused on how a product’s surfaces look and function.”

UI designers are responsible for creating the visually pleasing apps as shown above.

What does a UI designer do and which skills are needed?

As previously expressed, UI design is concerned with creating the visual components of what the user will interact with. According to Course Report, UI designers will work on the following:

  • “Focusing on the visual design and flow of the product between interactions
  • Wireframing
  • Creating visual assets (buttons, forms, etc)
  • Build transitions between screens”

and that the following skills are needed in order to carry out the tasks above:

  • “Prototyping what happens when a user clicks a specific button
  • Creating a style guide to hand off to developers
  • Knowing how to pair typefaces together to create legible copy
  • Figuring out how the site will look like across different screen sizes
  • Ensuring that the branding is consistent across all screens of a digital product
  • Building out the final visual elements and designs user interactions based off of wireframes given to them from UX designers”

UI designers choose enjoyable color schemes as shown above.

As you can tell above, UI designers must have extensive knowledge of graphic design principals. These design principals are then used to elevate the  user experience. As you may notice, the UI designer is focused on more micro focused tasks–like the color scheme–and the UX designer is focused on more macro level issues–like creating the product. UX, UI, and programmers must all work together in order to create a product that solves user’s problems.  They must all work together and all team members are integral to creating meaningful, functional products.

When comparing the tasks between the UX and UI designers, it’s important to take note that UI designers will have stronger interests with graphic design and the visual experience, while UX designers are more concerned with conducting user research and problem solving.

How much do UI designers make?

According to Glassdoor, UI designers have a median pay of $81,794 with a range of $58,000 to $113,000 depending on location and experience.

It’s important for UI designers to create designs that are intuitive to users.

Works Cited

10154006465327021. “How I Landed a Job in UX Design with No Degree or Work Experience.” Prototypr, Prototypr, 27 June 2017,
“The Difference between UI and UX.” Big Data Made Simple – One Source. Many Perspectives., 8 Apr. 2016,
“Salary: UI Designer.” Glassdoor,,11.htm.
“UI vs. UX: What’s the Difference between User Interface and User Experience?” UserTesting Blog, 1 July 2016,
“What Is UX Design? 15 User Experience Experts Weigh In.” UserTesting Blog, 27 Feb. 2017,

The Basics of UX Design

What is UX Design?

According to User Testing Blog, “UX design is the process of designing products that are useful, easy to use, and delightful to interact with.” In essence, UX design places the user at the center of every design design. UX design must take many human factors related themes into account when designing products due to its focus on the human.

UX designers must blend analytical skills and artistry in order to maximize the human experience while using the product.

What responsibilities does a UX designer have?

According to Adobe Blog, UX designers do product research, create personas and scenarios, information architecture, create wireframes, prototype, and product testing.

Below, is a brief synopsis of these six responsibilities:

1) Product Research: During this phase, the UX designer must learn all that he or she can about the user that uses a specific product and the product’s competition. They do this through interviewing, surveying, and doing competitive analysis.

UX designers must fully understand their product’s market before moving onto the design phase.

Creating Personas/Scenarios: A persona is a stereotypical customer that would use your product. This is an in depth summary that includes things like personality, demographics, needs, and wants from your product. These personas are then used to create scenarios of when and how someone would use your product.

3) Information Architecture: This is an outline of the product and helps UX designers get a general overview of what the product will provide. It is during this stage that what will be covered on a macro scale is identified.

Shown above is a picture of a wireframe. Notice how the wireframe outlines how the user would hypothetically interact with the product.

4) Wireframes: After the information architecture has been identified, it’s time to create the wireframe. The wireframe will show the flow of the product and illustrates “every important piece of the final product.”

5) Prototyping: Prototyping allows the wireframe to become interactive. It’s during this stage that an interactive version of the product is produced.

6) Product Testing: This is the part of the design where user testing can now be practiced. This is the stage where weaknesses are identified and strengthened before the final product is unveiled.

How do I become a UX Designer?

Most people that are UX designers studied an entirely different subject in school. Because of this, getting the coveted UX designer role requires heavy training and networking on your  own part. Take Christine Chun who studied chemistry in college but made the switch over to UX design. Christine recommends first ensuring that UX design is something that you want to pursue by talking to industry professionals. Then it is important to research the UX industry (even consider taking a class/bootcamp) and then create an online portfolio. At this time, you’re ready to start looking for jobs. While the job process is occurring, you can do freelance work and find mentors for additional feedback. By doing freelance works, you get real experience and expand your own networks. During these freelance projects, you also get works that you can add to your portfolio and experiences that you can talk about during interviews.

The simple motions shown above are the responsibility of the UX designer to understand and make intuitive for the user to understand.

As you can see, if you want to become a UX designer, you have to really want it and pursue the career passionately.

Works Cited

0154006465327021. “How I Landed a Job in UX Design with No Degree or Work Experience.” Prototypr, Prototypr, 27 June 2017,
“What Is UX Design? 15 User Experience Experts Weigh In.” UserTesting Blog, 27 Feb. 2017,
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