Report on Destination Site
In designing any interactive system, consideration should be given to the physical environment within which the system is to be used. At the most fundamental level, any health and safety legal requirements must be recognised and observed. Here are some recommendations as to the sorts of questions to address.
- Where will the system be used: within the home, at work, in a public gallery or arena, or in a dedicated learning environment such as a classroom?
- Will it be a fixed or portable system?
- Will the user be standing, or sitting or lying down?
- Will it be used by one or several users simultaneously?
- Will it be observed by one or several users simultaneously?
- Is ambient lighting a problem in the sense that screen reflections may prove distracting and uncomfortable?
- Can ambient lighting be adjusted by the user? Ambient lighting problems, such as reflections on the monitor, may be overcome by appropriate positioning of a monitor which conforms to today's health and safety standards, -- that is, one which is flicker-free, can swivel and tilt, has a low-reflectance screen, and, incidentally, which conforms to low UV-radiation emission standards.
- Is ambient sound a problem in the sense that may distracts or annoy the user?
- Can ambient sound be adjusted by the user? In certain environments, user headphones may be required.
- Can the user would be free to control ambient sound and lighting conditions. In a classroom setting, however, ambient sound could be a problem. Noise produced outside the program may interfere with the user's enjoyment of it; equally, the sounds produced by the program itself may interfere with non-users in the same room.
- Will the space be sufficiently ventilated to prevent the equipment from overheating and to ensure the comfort of the user?
- Will the system require maintainance on a regular basis or for fault-finding? Does this type of access require special design features to be incorporated? For instance, in a touch-screen system, a keyboard may still need to be accessible by the system maintainer who needs to be able to see the computer screen while using the keyboard.
- Are there design features in the environment which might be picked up on in the system design so that one might complement or harmonise with the other, or just to avoid clashes? This might involve the content of local information panels as much as local colour schemes.
Further recommendations to enhance the user's comfort and ensure their safety are as follows:
- Monitors should be flicker-free, swivel and tilt, low-reflectance and conform to low UV-radiation emission standards.
- Cables should be securely connected, undamaged, and not left trailing.
- There should be no risk of liquids being spilt near the equipment
- The work chair should be comfortable and stable, with a back which is adjustable in height and tilt.
- Sufficient space and legroom should be left around a workstation to permit a seated user to change position and vary their movements.
- Keyboards should be tiltable.
- There should be sufficient space to allow the user to support their hands and arms when using the mouse.
- Rest periods should be scheduled every couple of hours.
- To reduce eye-strain, the user should focus off-screen on a distance object several times an hour.
- The screen should be at a comfortable height and angle.
- The mouse should be at a height which allows the user to maintain an approximately horizontal forearm position.
- Computer equipment can cause dry heat. Ventilation and humidity should be controlled to prevent discomfort and sore eyes which may result.