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HFES: Ergonomics website survey


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Bulletin of the Human Factors & Ergonomics Society Sept. 2003, 46(9), p1.
Download original article as pdf   |   ©HFES 2003    Reprinted with permission

The HFES Member Survey

by Rani Lueder, CPE
Chair, HFES Web Content Advisory Task Force

About our Task Force

The HFES Web Content Advisory Task Force that I chair provides input on the HFES website content as it is now and as it might be in the short (1.5 year), medium (3 year) and long (5 year) term.

In June, our task force and its invaluable peer reviewers* submitted an extensive report to HFES recommending short and long-term changes to the Web site.

Our task force also surveyed the HFES membership regarding their familiarity and experience with the current Web site and their interest in new features under consideration.

Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Task force on ergonomics website content

Below, Alan Hedge summarizes the results from data he collected and analyzed. My introduction highlights the softer side of that survey — namely, the comments HFES members shared with us.

An important aim of the Web site survey was to serve as a "reality check" of our task force recommendations.   Although respondents expressed a range of views and interests (e.g., those outside the United States focused on different issues than did visitors, technical group members, students, members with disabilities, and those seeking employment), we were gratified that HFES member responses closely corresponded with the recommendations of our task force and reviewers.

What the comments revealed

The overriding message from members was that they valued the Society and welcomed the opportunity to provide input on a topic that clearly mattered to them.   Although some respondents expressed satisfaction with the current Web site, many others communicated that they believed that the site would benefit if it were updated or even revamped. Quite a few of the latter – particularly the HCI specialists – expressed strong views to that effect. Repeatedly, members shared a desire that the HFES Web site reflect the best of what our discipline stands for.

The comments also opened a window to the everyday frustrations some encountered when feedback was delayed, if they could not access parts of the Web site, or when they could not figure out where to get answers to their questions.  Others asked for practical features that might streamline tasks (e.g., on-line membership renewals) or enhance the usefulness of areas such as the Placement Service.

Many comments reflected a desire to facilitate communications with individual members or the various interest and/or work groups that make up the Society (e.g., TGs, local chapters, article submissions) – and even to expand on our notion and experience of the Society as a community with shared values and interests.   Some new members hoped that the site might better familiarize them with both the Society and the discipline and help them understand how they might fit in.

Many comments mirrored the findings described below in Alan Hedge’s analysis of survey data.  The most obvious of these was a consistently strong interest in content that might facilitate members’ own research efforts.

The comments also suggested limitations of the survey.   Some expressed frustration that the questions did not accurately reflect their usage patterns, particularly when they had not visited the HFES Web site for over a year and lacked the experience to answer questions "properly". Objections were particularly strong for section 7, which asked participants about the ease of using different areas of the site.

A few comments reflected a common pitfall of survey research. These respondents suggested that they felt obliged to give objective "expert opinion", rather than the input on their own experiences that we were aiming for. Some expressed doubts about their ability to fulfill what they believed we asked of them. We were chided for expecting them to "do our homework for us".

There were unanticipated benefits of the survey as well.   Various members commented that prior to participating in the survey, they were unaware of some features, such as the membership and consultant directories, the Placement Center, the article search engine, and the ability to purchase articles from HFES.

We also appreciated their excellent suggestions, some of which we incorporated into our follow-up report. Some offered to help; their names were forwarded to the associated work groups.

Reading these responses left an overriding sense that our Society is an orchestra. The violins may play to a different tempo than the trumpets, but all together, they create a symphony, and I am grateful to be part of it.

Rani Lueder is President of Humanics Ergonomics She has consulted in occupational ergonomics, product design research and (in recent years) web-based ergonomics training for over 20 years. She co-wrote and edited the book Ergonomics for Children from Taylor & Francis.   Order

The HFES Web Content Advisory Task Force members include Rani Lueder (Chair), Denny Ankrum, Alan Hedge, Jeff Kelley and Michele R. Marut.   Peer Reviewers include Tony Andre, Peter Budnick, E Nigel Corlett, Hal Hendrick, Valerie Berg Rice, Mark Sanders, Carol Stuart-Buttle and Pawan Vora.

Sept. Bulletin, Human Factors & Ergonomics Society    ©HFES 2003

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