The first part of this article was about the treacherous intuitiveness of establishing an HMI styleguide based on a Corporate Design (CD) styleguide, and why this decision is risky: unlike a CD styleguide an HMI styleguide has to work for software engineers as well as visual designers. Also, this form of documentation is too rigid for a dynamic modern HMI. The most important insight: an HMI styleguide cannot be the sole basis for developing a consistent, aesthetic and intuitive HMI. Looking back on many years of big HMI design projects and speaking as a UX consultant I can say: only a combination of tools and processes will lead to success.
Thinking Out of the Box
Posts Tagged ‘User Interface Design’
Intuition seems to be one of those things we all profit from a lot. But at times it will deceive us. Designing an intuitive HMI seems to be one of the highest priorities of modern software development, minimizing both the need for training and the risk of operational errors. Still, a lot of software engineers and even HMI designers stumble into one trap when aiming for intuitive software design: listening to their own intuition. They will tell themselves, and quite rightly so, “A good HMI design has to be aesthetic and consistent, so that operators will be able to profit from already learnt patterns in a new context of use – if they can use one machine, they can use all machines.” So far, so good. But now comes the misconception: “If you want your HMI design to be consistent in every way, why not adapt the already established corporate design? It has been there for ages, guiding along the way to consistency and brand experience: the corporate design (CD) styleguide”.
Alas, this is the wrong analogy – but not the first time it has been used: the early years of television had the same problem, reading the daily news to their audience the same way radio did, or the early years of the internet, displaying long columns of information in serif fonts, just like contemporary newspapers did. This might have felt intuitive because it was well-known and long-established – but it was still wrong.
The philosophy of a CD styleguide cannot be transferred to a modern HMI and its development.
Not everyone likes Google products, but everyone who has a computer / laptop / smartphone uses them. It’s really fascinating how a company founded by two students conquered a huge part of the market, became the most desired employer, and every year continue to surprise us with highly innovating ideas. And it’s even more fascinating how a company with about 60.000 employees apparently can’t afford good user interfaces (UI).
Is gamification compatible with Industry 4.0? There is only one way to find out: To create a realistic setup. At the Hannover Messe we had the chance to do just that.
Recently I gave a talk at the dotnet Cologne and also at the DWX Developer Week titled “4K and other challenges – Next Generation Desktop UIs for Windows 10”. The session discussed the term Universal App Platform in Windows 10 and showed what a developer can make out of it in order to create future oriented user interfaces. This blog article is not only supposed to target those who attended my session, but also those who were not present to hear it. Moreover the article will provide further information to the topic. As in the session there will be a coding part at the end where some new Universal App features are shown. read more…
In interface design, the term consistency is part of the professional jargon. It is used for everyday feedback and in long term concepts. It is also common ground with developers and clients. Consistency is an important evaluation criterium. Enough reasons to get a good handle on the term. read more…
Videogames are a great enrichment to our cultural environment. With advancing technology, video games become more realistic and engaging. Unfortunately, texts, sculptures, pictures, music and movies do not have the same potential letting the recipient immerse into another world (at least not without drugs). For this reason, game development has become an absolute dream job for many people. However, the conditions and requirements for that job are not as great as media suggest – at least in Germany.
In this article I will compare game- and software development showing that developing “serious” software applications can be as fulfilling as game development.
This article is currently only available in German language
In Part 1, we discovered that the emotional factor of user experience is more important to games than goal-oriented functionality (though being an effective and efficient way of reaching a goal, there is no “Save the Princess” button in a Mario game at the beginning). Up to a certain degree, well-designed user experiences can distract from negative and/or not fixable interaction flaws and can make users “like” an application more than another.
Furthermore the diverse team composition of game development studios was discussed in the first part. In this context we pointed out that the production process of games forces programmers and visual designers to work closely together. Design is not seen as an add-on but as an essential part, which is necessary for the product to work.
The last chapter focused on the aspect of small budgets in game projects. Rapid iterative testing and evaluation (RITE) helps to detect and fix flaws of a UI in a very fast way, thus reducing time and money spent on traditional usability optimization.
In Part 2 we will look at the aspects of imaginary worlds and the link between reality and simulation. Thereafter, we will show which techniques are used in games to reduce loading, and even more important, waiting times. In the last section we compare how serious applications and games introduce their functionality to the user. To get a better understanding of the concept of Gamification you can also read: “Gamification as a design process” by my colleague Jörg Niesenhaus.
Microsoft’s Modern UI design language has arrived in many applications with varying success. By now, almost everybody has seen Modern UI (formerly known as Metro), and Microsoft seems committed. Developers of Windows software have to think about the fact that a lot of established interfaces look out of place in a Modern UI environment. It needs to be adapted to the current state of interface design, even more with Apple similarly moving iOS 7 to a flat UI style. Working on such updates, we have collected a set of 10 design principles we call, for the sake of simplicity, “Desktop Modern UI”, and we want to share them with you. read more…
“Form Follows Function (FFF)” – You can think for hours about these three words and for their explanation quite some words are necessary, for it is a frequently misunderstood design principle. read more…
Have you ever thought about switching from Windows Forms (WinForms) to WPF seriously? Try something new and stop to develop along the old well known patterns? To be honest until a few months ago, I haven’t had any thoughts about making a transition. I was very familiar with Windows Forms and WPF would have been something I would have to learn from scratch. So it was only a test project and my applications remained Windows Forms applications. So, when I joined Centigrade earlier this year, after working as a developer for nearly 15 years in the financial industry, Centigrade made the transition to WPF long ago. Just take a look at related blog articles on our website! My colleagues in the field of design engineering are working for several years with WPF. Especially younger designers and design engineers only knew Windows Forms from their study – if at all. They never worked with it in practice. Many companies already use WPF, but despite the fact that already the fourth version of the technology is out lot of them are still in the evaluation phase. From my own experience, I can only report – it can even be worse. Especially, in the financial sector applications with a rather boring look and feel are created until today. Yet, things could be so much more appealing…
So a new chapter started in my programming career. With a healthy dose of skepticism, I joined my first WPF Project. I was hooked immediately. I have collected some of my experiences and summarized them within this article. read more…
In April I blogged about metro style pictograms being the new sliced bread in icon design. Remember? The article was, of course, highly interesting, incredibly important and not to mention terribly knowledgeable – and naturally it was in no respect longwinded. Well. Let’s just say it was rather formal and academic. Today, dear reader, I am going to be emotional. And pretty much so. Why? Because bad user interface design can drive you up the wall.
Texts are important parts of most user interfaces, be it, e.g., as form field labels or longer help texts. This article is aimed at providing a common introduction to the topic „choosing the right font”. It contains some hints an pointers that simplify the search for the right typeface. read more…
The first part of this article provided an overview of the concepts of the currently implemented user interfaces for the Kinect™ sensor. It pointed out technical specifications and explained the human-machine interaction within Kinect games. This second part now scrutinizes this interaction and assesses its potential for industrial application.
In November 2010, Microsoft® introduced Kinect™. As an expansion of the Xbox 360™ gaming console, it brings controller-free gaming to the living room and even long before its actual release it was believed to revolutionize Human Computer Interaction. Therefore, expectations were rather high and one felt reminded of the Natural User Interface (NUI) featured in the movie Minority Report. Will this futuristic vision soon become reality?
Comparing computer games with “serious” software applications may seem like comparing apples and oranges if we think of serious software as tools that allow users to achieve mission-critical productivity goals in their working live. In this respect, the two industries couldn‘t be further apart regarding their target audience and the way they rank productivity vs. fun. For this reason, we are oftentimes asked why Centigrade as a “serious” user interface design company collaborates so closely with the game industry and even has a branch office located in a building that’s otherwise occupied solely by game development studios.
Yet, the link between computer games and industrial software is more obvious than one may think. To summarize why we believe computer games can have a positive impact on the user experience (UX) of industrial software applications, this three-part blog post provides a bulleted list of ten arguments we keep on stating in this regard. The first part gives a high-level and process-oriented perspective on the topic, the second part will shed more light on the transfer of aesthetic and interactive aspects found in games to serious software and the third part will have a look at the game industry as a technical driver for innovations that spill over to other software industries.
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In recent years, so called “natural user interfaces” (NUI) have grown in popularity. More and more often, interaction via touch and gestures is employed instead of using mouse and keyboard. The iPhone was greeted with great enthusiasm and played a major part in spreading touch screen system in the consumer market while also introduced gesture-based interaction in a playful way. There should be hardly any touch screen user who is not familiar with the pinch gesture that is used to resize or zoom images on the iPhone.
Keeping the background information of the previous article in mind, assume you want to make use of Blend to design a NUI based on Silverlight or WPF that lets you easily manipulate items on the screen. In the beginning, you won’t even touch the tool at all – you “invent” whatever gesture you think is intuitive to perform this operation. Most likely you do this in your head or on the whiteboard. You discuss and refine the design with your team mates or with potential users. At this stage everything is still low-fidelity and throwing away things isn’t costly yet. As soon as you have a good-enough feeling about the rough design, you start prototyping with higher fidelity. This is to be really sure your idea works. To provoke the intended interaction experience, caring about every single detail is exceptionally important in later prototyping stages.
In the first part of this series I described how user interface design tools bring together developers and designers in a seamless workflow and gave an overview of the technical environments of Adobe’s and Microsoft’s tools in that area.
In this article, I am going to focus on the use of pixel and vector graphics in design, deal with some of the pros and cons of the two graphic types and finally give an introduction on the scaling of bitmap GUI components.