HFES Guide to Ergonomics Design Awards

Compiled by Ila Elson

When developed with ergonomics in mind, products can be easy to use, comfortable, safe, and effective. You can live a more productive and comfortable life by shopping for products with ergonomic design features. And with your support, the number of products that reflect good human factors/ergonomics principles will continue to grow.

Use this guide to identify annual award programs throughout the world that specify human factors/ergonomics as one of their judging criteria. Then visit the Web site of the award program to learn about the specific products that have impressed the judges and won design acclaim.

Please note that the listing of annual award programs in this guide does not constitute any endorsement by the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society or any representation as to the quality or performance of the winning products.

  • – The magazine for the appliance manufacturers publishes the winners of the annual Appliance Manufacturer Excellence in Design Awards in March. Typical product entry categories are major appliances, lawn/garden and outdoor appliances; commercial/vending; computers/electronics; communications; floor care; heating/air conditioning; leisure appliances' portable power tools; medical appliances and laboratory equipment; portable appliances/personal care; test, measurement, and inspection equipment; electrical fitness equipment; and peripherals and accessories. The panel of experts evaluates entries according to aesthetics, ergonomics/human factors, and innovative features.

  • – The annual consumer electronics show presents Best of Innovations Awards in January. Typical product categories for this award include accessories, audio, computer hardware and software, digital imaging, electronic gaming, home appliances, home data networking, integrated home systems, mobile electronics, mobile office, office equipment, online/internet, personal electronics, retail resources, satellite systems, telephones, video, and wireless communications. Product evaluations are based on these weighted criteria: user value, aesthetics, contributions to the quality of life, and innovative qualities.

  • and – The Industrial Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) given by the Industrial Designers Society of America and sponsored by BusinessWeek magazine are announced every summer. Products compete in the following categories: business and industrial products, computer equipment, consumer products, design explorations, digital media interfaces, environments, furniture, medical and scientific products, packaging and graphics, student designs, and transportation.

  • – The Stanley Caplan User Centered Design Award is given by the Product Design Technical Group of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society each September. The winner of this award must demonstrate excellence in human factors/ergonomics methods and design. 

  • – Canon Communications announces winners of the annual Medical Design Excellence Awards (MDEA) competition in March. Medical categories include critical care and emergency medical products, dental instruments, equipment, and supplies, general hospital devices and therapeutic products, implant and tissue-replacement products, in vitro diagnostics, finished packaging, over-the-counter and self-care products, radiological and electromechanical devices, rehabilitation and assistive technology products, and surgical equipment, instruments, and supplies. A multidisciplinary panel of jurors uses several criteria, including design and engineering attributes, user-related features that improve health care delivery and change traditional medical attitudes or practices, enhanced benefits to the patient, and the ability of the product development team to overcome design and engineering challenges to meet clinical objectives.

  • – The Red Dot Award: Product Design, a large, prestigious international competition, is organized by Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen in Germany. Winners are typically announced in June or July. The entries are split into the following product groups for assessments by the jury: living rooms and bedrooms; households, kitchens, and bathrooms; leisure, hobbies, and sports; architecture and environment; industry and crafts; public spaces and traffic; trade and trade fairs; medicine and rehabilitation; offices and administration; media and home electronics; and jewelry, fashion, and accessories. The jury makes its selection in accordance with the following criteria: degree of innovation, functionality, formal quality, ergonomics, durability, symbolic and emotional content, product peripherals, self-explanatory quality, and ecological soundness. This competition also chooses a design team of the year.

  • – The “Good Design Award” is Japan’s only comprehensive design evaluation and commendation system.  All Japanese companies that have incorporated design into their operations and are engaged in state-of-the-art production are participating in this system.  Screening criteria include:  1.  Is it a good design?  2.  Is it a superior design? And 3.  Is it a design that breaks new ground for the future?  Winners are typically announced in early October every year.

  • – Design Effectiveness Awards are given in the United Kingdom by the Design Business Association.  This is the only award scheme that uses commercial data as a key judging criteria.  Judges look for designs that prove beyond reasonable doubt that a cause and effect exists between the new design and business success through results.  Winners are announced in November every year.

  • – The Ergonomics Design Award is organized by the Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors in the United Kingdom and sponsored by CCD Design and Ergonomics. It was established to recognize and acknowledge excellence in the application of ergonomics. Submissions must display some or all of the following elements: a systematic application of ergonomic principles, creativity and innovation, a high level of client/customer satisfaction, and usability. Submissions are to be sent to by end of December each year.

  • – This annual award is sponsored by and The UX Awards are the premier awards for exceptional experience. They celebrate groundbreaking experiences that humanize and enhance technology. The UXies honor the innovators behind the digital products that define our world and inspire technologists to create human-centered products that solve customer problems. The awards are limited to the user experience of digital projects, such as a website, software, mobile or tablet app, ecommerce, kiosk, interactive TV, social media, interactive display, or digital campaign. These awards do not cover product or industrial design, print documents, signage, advertising, or other non-digital media.

  • – This foundation supports design and engineering education. Recent designers and engineering graduates can submit a product design that solves a problem. See the website for details.

>Thanks for your interest in and support of products with good human factors/ergonomics design features. If you know of another annual award program not on this list that uses ergonomics as one of its judging criteria, then please send a note to ila.elson@abbott.comso this list can be updated.

HFES is grateful to members of the Product Design Technical Group for evaluating this guide.

Ila Elson, PhD, CUXP, is a human factors engineer currently employed by Abbott Laboratories in Dallas, Texas. She holds a doctorate in industrial engineering with an emphasis in human factors engineering and professional certification in the field.