Building a new product or machine is a nontrivial undertaking. If the manufacturer wants to be successful, they have to consider a dizzying array of factors and make countless design decisions. Then, each and every one of those decisions must support the underlying function of the machine.
This is doubly true when it comes to the point of interface between the product and its human user. Every element of the user’s interaction with the machine – including visual, acoustic, tactile, and other sensory modes of input and output – must be weighed by both mechanical and design engineers during the early design and development phase. Otherwise, the manufacturer risks creating a product that is less functional, less pleasing, and less successful.
Because there are so many different factors to consider, and many of those design elements are aesthetic or stylistic (particularly when it comes to the human-machine interface, or HMI), it’s easy to overlook or underestimate many of them. For that reason, in this new design guide series, we’re going to provide a comprehensive overview of the design elements that need to be considered when designing your perfect input solution.
- In Part 2 (the next article in the series), we’ll start by looking at the relationship between product design and how the HMI facilitates (or fails to facilitate) the manufacturer’s ultimate goals.
- In Part 3, we’ll step back and consider the machine’s human operators in more detail. What do they need from the machine from a design perspective? The issue is that design decisions can impact everything from safety to accuracy to productivity to usability.
- In Part 4, we’ll look at aesthetic and stylistic considerations. This is more important than merely deciding “how it looks.” It’s about the impression the machine makes on users, how well it communicates with them, and how easy it makes their lives.
- In Part 5, we’ll start getting into the nitty-gritty of the design with a look at the guts of the machine: its electronics. It’s critical to answer fundamental questions about the electronics to ensure it can fulfill its function and meet the designer’s goals.
- Finally, in Part 6, we’ll look at the operating environment. For example, does the machine need to be able to weather outdoor conditions? What kind of application environments have design implications that need to be addressed during the design process?
In short, this series will run readers through the same basic process through which we’d walk any customer who wants to build a new product. We’ll look at the relevant questions step by step until we have a clear vision and solid design guidelines for that product. In the meantime, if you’d like an additional in-depth guide into the various components and specifications that should be considered when designing and developing your next input device – in other words, a complete guide to your options when designing and building an effective HMI for your product – please download our “Design Guide To Your Perfect User-Interface”.
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