Social, ethnic, economic groups and human capability

The needs and wants of a user will vary across different groups, and designers should consider this before developing their design ideas. Products should be sensitive to different groups’ needs and should avoid having a negative impact, eg the use of religious or cultural symbols could cause offense if seen to be used inapropriatly.

Designers should consider:

  • social groups - people who may share common interests or levels of education, eg liking the same sport or doing GCSEs, or who may be the same age or gender
  • economic groups - based on occupation, status and financial security; what different economic groups can afford will vary - with the cost of products affected by quality and brand
  • ethnic groups - people who may share a language, culture or belief(s)

In all cases, designers should try to create products without causing offense to any one group. For example, in Japan, some people may prefer to sit on the floor to eat their meals, whereas in Europe people are more likely to sit on chairs at a table. Therefore, furniture designs can differ for these audiences to make them suitable for use.

Human capability

A successful design should also ensure a variety of end users can use the product safely and effectively. They might make adaptations with accessibility in mind, for example:

  • a braille keyboard for those with sight difficulties
  • a long shoe horn to allow an elderly person to put a shoe on without having to bend down
  • fastenings such as Velcro for small children to use
A blind person uses a computer with a braille keyboard.

Braille keyboard