HMI – Human Machine Interface, mainly used in industry and process control,
MMI – Man Machine Interaction,
HCI – Human Computer Interaction,
UX – User eXperience, often used for apps in the public domain,
GUI – Graphical User Interface,
are terms referring to the (design of) interfaces between humans and machines. Whatever the wording, in our opinion a good design includes an analysis of the tasks performed by the system (= humans + machines + procedures). This overall system perspective gives a proper context for considering the pros and cons of more detailed design decisions. A good interaction design optimizes for human cognitive capacities and limitations.
A good interface should be:
- comfortable, attractive, and motivating for the user
Requirements for HMI to be used in a professional setting are quite different from the requirements for UX designs aiming for commercial success in the public domain.
ErgoS offers several options for your interface design:
- Functional analysis.
- Functional design.
- Consultancy in developing detailed design.
- Organization of user participation.
- Workshops and coaching for developer teams.
In process control projects we often proceed by determining the need for information and control. Information will be allocated to different types of screens. A symbol library and some typical example schematics define the new style. In some projects we design all screens, more often we guide designers or end users in drawing up their own schematics according to our example screens. Designing an interaction style may result in detailed style guides, supporting consistent design throughout the whole enterprise.
Apart from designing, ErgoS has the capabilities to perform quick scans of applications in situations where production is lower than expected or where users complain about laborious software or in case users have physical complaints or eye strain.
Agile and scrum sprints
Our design approach is often integrated in best practices for software projects such as agile design, where our activity synchronizes with the scrum increments.
We do have some considerations at the start of a project. It is a common misunderstanding that user evaluation cycles will eventually generate an optimal design. When the initial concept does not fit the proposed user task; user evaluation cycles will result in a long and inefficient trial-and-error path leading to a non-optimal design.
So we like a bit of waterfall-method for situation analysis of tasks, before going agile. As a consequence the first user participation is showing us how they work and the first ‘product’ to be tested by the users are our conclusions from the analysis.
For starting the actual software design, chunks of (hierarchical) task analysis can be rewritten as use cases.
In the user evaluations of increments, we unravel the reasoning, which is at first rather subconscious and hidden in the users’ remarks. User evaluation is not so much about gathering opinions and wishes; user evaluation is about getting to the core of tasks and to simplify information, perceiving and control. Users are right in their user expertise, but users are not analyzers, nor designers.
In addition to the execution of design activities, ErgoS can boost your design team with workshops about several aspects of interaction design, such as:
- analysis, how to interview/observe users efficiently
- organizing user participation, avoiding trial-and-error evaluations
- information design
- dialogue design
- do’s and don’ts while optimizing screen space, whether on tablet, desk or video wall.