Incorporating subjective end-user perceptions in the design process: a study of leg guard comfort in cricket

2012-11-05T15:53:10Z (GMT) by James Webster Jonathan Roberts
During the design of sports equipment, the main focus is usually on physical performance attributes, neglecting key subjective factors such as feel or comfort. The personal protective equipment worn in sport is a typical example of where injury prevention has taken precedence over user comfort, but it is anticipated that, with an improved approach to the design process, comfort can be enhanced without sacrificing protection. Using cricket leg guards as an example, this study aims to develop a systematic method for assessing user perceptions and incorporating them into the design process. Using this method, players’ perceptions of the factors that influence comfort were elicited through the use of co-discovery sessions, focus groups, and individual interviews and analysed through an inductive process to produce a comfort model. The relative importance of the different comfort dimensions were identified through the use of an online questionnaire utilizing the analytical hierarchy process method. Through the combination of these methods, six general dimensions were identified with a weighting regarding the amount to which each one determines a user’s perceived comfort. These results demonstrate how subjective analysis can be integrated into the design process, allowing for end users’ preferences to be considered and integrated.