Toyota Museum Display: Universal Design

One of the displays in the Toyota Museum in Nagoya was an exhibition on “Universal Design.” This exhibition runs through December 2.

Rather than trying to interpret and articulate the concepts, I just want to list some of the key words. I think they stand for themselves, and provide a good baseline for evaluating the design of anything which must interact with humans.

  • Easy to see
  • Easy to hear
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to understand
  • You don’t have to be strong
  • Comfortable posture
  • OK for almost everyone
  • Equitable use
  • Flexible in use
  • Simple and intuitive
  • Perceptible information
  • Tolerance for error
  • Low physical effort
  • Size and space for approach and use

The exhibition highlights design concepts and features that make products (particularly automobiles, obviously) .

They talk about the physiological value of the product, in addition to the physical value. This is the linkage between the things which provide physical comfort and accessibility through the things which provide “comfort and peace of mind” – the things which assure the user (driver) that things are OK.

Things which people must see include special attention to the view through aging eyes. I can personally attest that things look different through the eyes of a 50+ year old than they do to a 20 year old. Contrast is reduced, as is resolution. Choices of fonts, sizes, colors are more important.

Even outside of automotive, if you are designing anything which needs humans to pay attention and interpret information, it is important to apply a little thinking into what they (humans) actually see, and what sorts of things penetrate consciousness and get the attention of someone who isn’t that attentive right now.

This carries back to the concepts I outlined in an earlier post “Sticky Visual Controls.” Of course a “visual control” is (or should be) also audible if you want someone who is otherwise distracted (or looking in another direction) to see it.

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