Do a Web search for UX best practices, and you’ll find well-written articles and blog posts about designing Web sites and mobile applications. They’ll be chock full of helpful examples and screenshots depicting ecommerce Web sites, social-media applications, and slick interaction paradigms. But you’ll be hard pressed to find any examples from industrial automation—especially near the top of the search results—because industrial-automation software is not consumer facing and sits well outside the consciousness of modern software users and designers alike. Those who are familiar with industrial-automation software commonly view this as a domain of control systems, processes, computers, and machines—things that aren’t human.
But industrial-automation software is more human facing than you might think. Think about the sheets you slept on last night. The soap you used in the shower this morning. The car you drove to work. The beer you plan to nurse on the front porch tonight. The diaper you’ll wrestle onto your toddler before putting her to bed. The roller coaster that will make you scream at the top of your lungs this weekend. People design the software that runs the machines and processes that mass produce these human-facing products for people. People are still a big part of the processes for manufacturing these goods. Read More
In this column, instead of talking about one of my usual topics—tactics to avoid errors—I’ll discuss how to work within constraints and pragmatically address real-world issues. During the software-development process, your team may ask you to design an error message. Annoying edge cases all too often pop up—usually too late in the process to fix the issue in any other way.
For starters, I never write what I’d call error messages. Admittedly, I occasionally use that term—in the same way I might use words such as sitemap—just at the beginning of a conversation to orient everyone to my process. Just as I did in the title of this column. But I then switch to a more meaningful term and get everyone to talk about exception messages. Read More
As for many UX professionals, my career so far has centered largely around performing UX research and design for Web and mobile applications. However, for the past year or two, I’ve been increasingly excited by virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) applications and their potential to positively impact our lives. My excitement stems from reimagining existing use cases in spaces such as education, workplace productivity, and entertainment, as well as from recognizing the potential for VR and AR to introduce entirely new digital experiences that go beyond what we’ve so far envisioned. The capabilities of the technology are quickly getting to where they need to be. The primary question people are asking now is: will the content be there?
Experience designers must rise to the challenge. Of course, transitioning from traditional digital platforms to the wild west of extended reality (XR)—a blanket term that encompasses VR, AR, and mixed reality (MR)—requires some prep work. While I’m by no means claiming to be an expert experience designer for XR quite yet, I want to share my journey as an XR fan-boy. I’ve been absorbing the relatively small amount of information that is currently available on designing VR and AR experiences—reading every article and watching every video—and tinkering first hand with my beloved head-mounted display (HMD). Read More