The contemporary world is indeed an information society. Computer technologies pervade virtually all aspects of human life today: at home, in hospitals, at school, in the office, or in the industries. More and more novel technologies continue to be added on the already existing ones. While the technological aspects are important, the human factors in the development of the software sued in these technologies have been overlooked. Human factors are an essential aspect of the software development process in order to ensure user safety, and ease of use. However, there has been a lot of attention on the technical aspects of the software development process at the expense of the human aspect. This paper examines the human-computer interaction aspect or the human factors involved in computer science, and particularly in software engineering. The paper will first define what human factors or human-computer interaction is, then a brief historical account of this field before looking at its importance.
Definition of Human Factors and Brief History of the Concept
Human factors is a scientific field that deals with the understanding of interactions between humans and other aspects of a system and the application of theories, data, principles and methods of design with the aim of maximizing human safety and the general system performance. In essence, human factors are generally concerned with the human-computer interaction, as well as ergonomics (Bannon, 1991). Human factors field is interested in the fit between the system, the user, and their environments. It considers the user’s capabilities and limitations in ensuring that tasks, roles, information and the environment are suitable for every user. Human computer interaction is imperative for the design and development of any software. Human factors present the underlying idea for incorporating these factors into the software life cycle.
Human factors are used synonymously with ergonomics. The later term comes from a Greek word meaning work and natural laws. The science of ergonomics seems to have its foundations in Greek civilization where ergonomic principles were applied in designing tools, jobs, and workplaces (Bannon, 1991). Egyptians are also believed to have applied this concept in designing their tools and other household equipment. However, human factors began to pick momentum during the industrial revolution where workers made great efforts in reducing the number of steps required in a particular job thus used less effort and increased performance. The same trend continued in the first and the second world wars. Many giant companies came to realize that the success of a product depended upon a solid user-centered design.
The design and development of human-computer interaction has been rapidly developing into a full-fledged engineering field for attaining proper system usability. This field aims in offering users with a cost effective and satisfactory way of software...