Make the most important button look like it’s the most important one.
Put buttons in a sensible order.
Label buttons with what they do.
If users don’t want to do something, don’t have a button for it.
Make it harder to find destructive buttons.
Nothing particularly revolutionary there, right? Ever since the <button> tag arrived in HTML4, buttons haven’t been especially difficult to create. Despite this, it’s rather easy to find buttons that don’t comply with these basic best practices, so I’m going to dig into them a little deeper in this column. Read More
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
There is a tendency to associate the profession of User Experience with consumer-facing Web sites and applications. And why not? After all, social media and ecommerce experiences are a constant part of users’ lives—even those who are also UX designers. These experiences represent desirable activities such as buying products and interacting with friends and family. There is high demand for such experiences, which, in turn, draws the collective focus of the UX community. Fair enough. But the profession of User Experience also provides value in unexpected places that exist at the periphery of modern consumerism. In this three-part series, I’ve discussed one such unexpected place—the industrial environment. Humans—who help manufacture the goods we enjoy—must be productive and are no less deserving of experiences that make them more efficient, effective, and satisfied in their jobs.
In Part 1 of this series, I explained that industrial automation is more human facing than you might think. Then, I described how the industrial environment itself presents difficult challenges for UX designers to overcome when designing software for human-machine interfaces (HMIs), covering both plant-floor and control-room environments. Finally, I shared some key principles of effective HMI design that apply to both environments. Read More