Errorproofing Lens

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Errorproofing design patterns for influencing behaviour

The Errorproofing Lens treats deviations from the target behaviour as ‘errors’ which design can help avoid, either by making it easier for users to work without making errors, or by making errors impossible in the first place. It’s a view often found in ergonomics, health & safety-related design, medical device design and manufacturing engineering (as poka-yoke): where, as far as possible, one really doesn’t want errors to occur at all (Shigeo Shingo’s 'zero defect' philosophy). Much of this builds on Don Norman's classic concept of forcing functions and 'deliberately making things difficult' as detailed in The Design of Everyday things.

It’s worth noting a (the?) key difference between an errorproofing approach and some other views of influencing user behaviour is that errorproofing doesn’t care whether or not the user’s attitude changes, as long as the target behaviour is met. Attitude change might be a side-effect of the errorproofing, but it doesn’t have to be.

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Eight lenses on influencing behaviour through design


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