"Soft" Problems with Consumer Electronics and the Influence of User Characteristics

DS 58-7: Proceedings of ICED 09, the 17th International Conference on Engineering Design, Vol. 7, Design for X / Design to X, Palo Alto, CA, USA, 24.-27.08.2009

Year: 2009
Editor: Norell Bergendahl, M.; Grimheden, M.; Leifer, L.; Skogstad, P.; Lindemann, U.
Author: Kim, Chajoong; Christiaans, Henri H. C. M.
Series: ICED
Section: Design for X, Design to X
Page(s): 241-252


The paper reports a study into the complaints of consumers about "soft" problems they have experienced using new electronic household products. These problems cannot be traced back to a specification violation failure, classified as No Fault Found. Reason why they are called "soft". The aim was to find a relationship between consumers' soft problems and their personal characteristics, encompassing demographical, personal, and socioeconomic aspects as well asthe effect of cultural background. A total of 64 Dutch and 59 South Korean subjects participated in the survey. The reported complaints were classified into categories which are related to usability. The findings indicate that, first, there is a relationship between soft problems and product categories that were based on operation complexity. Second, demographic variables are significantly related to problem categories. Third, physical, cognitive, socioeconomic and cultural characteristics as well as personality traits also show significant correlations with it. On the basis of the data preliminary user profiles were made. The implications of these findings and suggestion for further study are discussed.

Keywords: ?user characteristics, ? ?usability, ? ?soft problem, ? ?cultural diversity?


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