STRATEGIC INTERACTION DESIGN
The rapid pace of innovation within the consumer electronics industry is mirrored within Whirlpool as well. This team keeps the pulse of the world around us to investigate future trends of user interfaces. New ideas are adapted and made relevant for appliances with the goal of providing an appropriate and engaging experience that is realizable within a future commercialized product. Work is completed to ensure each of our brands have unique and compelling strategic solution to set them apart in the marketplace.
“Usability is the extent to which a product is used by specific consumers effectively, efficiently and with satisfaction in a particular user context.”
Consumers need simple, intuitive technology offering versatile and easy responses in everyday life. The design of Whirlpool Corporation's domestic appliances is based on this simple but critical principle. It also depends on a clear understanding of future context, modus operandi and the fact that everyone – regular and occasional users, the expert and the inexperienced – must be able to use them, easily and effortlessly. Whirlpool Corporation's Usability Lab looks to find scientific answers to the questions of usability and ergonomics by adopting scientific methods of anthropology, cognitive psychology and bio-mechanical measurements. These scientific research methods help the design team to better understand how people move and behave in the home, how they organize domestic tasks and what they think and how they feel when performing simple, routine tasks.
Whirlpool Corporation’s Global Usability Lab was established in 1994 and in 1997 was merged with the Design Centre, where it applies inputs from ethnographic and anthropometric research in design projects. Conducting research and observation throughout Europe and qualified in psychology and anthropology, the Usability Team has a deep understanding of people, a good dose of empathy and curiosity, plus an excellent technical grounding in ergonomics and design.
State-of-the-art technology plays a critical role in the Usability Lab’s research methodologies, to fuel understanding of consumer needs and to provide accurate information to designers. For instance, a virtual glove is used to measure comfort when gripping handles; it identifies the shape and size required for a handle to accommodate natural hand movement and ensure maximum physical ease. Special technology is also adopted to identify the direction of the pupil during the performance of everyday tasks and interaction with the appliance. This provides an understanding
of where people focus their attention and is particularly helpful in the study and development of interfaces.
USER EXPERIENCE DESIGN
When Whirlpool products enter the official development process, this team helps ensure the final design is useful, usable, and desirable by our customers. In the earliest phases, research in the home is conducted with potential users to understand their needs. Design ideas are then developed for all touch-points to optimize both the ergonomics of physical components and the interaction with the control panels. Finally, these designs are studied with participants in a laboratory setting to verify the products can be used with success and satisfaction.