There are many factors that go into dispensing design, but one of the most important is that the end product should be comfortable to use. This may seem like a given, but how often have you used a home or garden care product only to find your hand sore during or after use? Unfortunately, too many products include actuators and other mechanics that result in an unpleasant dispensing experience.
This is where ergonomics comes in. Ergonomics is a broad science, but for the purposes of dispensing design, it’s the practice of developing products that support and align with the natural movements and posture of the people they’re designed for. What may seem like an innocuous trigger sprayer or aerosol button actually is (or should be) the result of considerable research so that it feels like a natural extension of a person’s hand or finger when in use.
Benefits of Ergonomic Design
Improved Comfort and Reduced Fatigue
Some dispensers, such as trigger sprayers and hose end sprayers, are used for extended periods, and their design can significantly affect a person’s comfort and productivity, routinely leading to fatigue. By incorporating ergonomic design principles into the development phase, dispensers can be manufactured so that they don’t require excessive force or unnatural movements to actuate, all of which reduces the chance of fatigue and injury.
Improved User Experience
Quite understandably, people are more likely to use and reuse tools that are comfortable and easy to use. Ergonomic design principles can significantly improve consumers’ experience with a dispensing solution, particularly when they have a comfortable grip, require less force to actuate, and adequately fit the average user’s hand size and shape.
Silgan Dispensing’s Approach to Ergonomic Design
Developing a solution that is both seamless in design and comfortable in use requires months of research and testing. Often the simplest designs require the most ingenuity and testing to eliminate any and all points of friction.
Review and Differentiate
In order for a product to stand out – both in form and function – we need to see what already exists in the marketplace. Our design team pools competitor products and past iterations of a brand’s offerings, all to see what consumers are already familiar with and to identify areas of opportunity. Sometimes, a brand has highlighted a use issue common throughout the product category (e.g., finger/hand fatigue, forced bad posture) as part of their creative brief for our team to examine and address. More often, it’s our own experts who discover these pain points relating human form and product use. Either way, from here, we’re able to begin developing a design concept that builds on what exists, while driving the category forward.
How to Make it Ergonomic
With an initial concept in hand, we shift to ensuring its design is ergonomic to provide the best, most comfortable consumer experience possible. How much force is needed to actuate the product? How long will the average person use it at one time? What’s the ideal posture for them while using the product? Our team digs into questions like these to identify the right design elements so that the dispenser can be used without overly engaging extremities and muscle groups.
Test and Refine
Designing a new product is not a one-and-done exercise. Routinely, multiple versions are developed and tested – both by our team and consumers via focus groups. Detailed photography dissecting miniscule movements in the arm, wrist and fingers show us where adjustments need to be made for the best possible design. This first-hand feedback helps us identify the right materials and design features to deliver the best ergonomic experience based on the product’s intended use.
Balancing Ergonomics with Other Brand Objectives
Ergonomics is only one of several foundational design factors for our team. A product needs to reflect a brand’s image, stand out from its competitors, and increasingly often, be made of environmentally friendly materials. All these considerations go into our design process to ensure the final product exemplifies a customer’s brand while also providing the best consumer experience.
If you need help improving the ergonomics of one of your products, we’re happy to help.