Mobile apps and websites can often be found in a UX/UI designer's portfolio. However, the designer's job is not limited to just completing standard tasks. They often have to create professional software systems for industries, healthcare, and fintech.
In this post, we are going to talk about the principles that professional UX/UI design agencies use to design interfaces for industrial services that will lead the product to commercial success.
What are Industrial Interfaces?
There is still a special group of devices - the industrial ones. Their interfaces are especially important because lives can depend on them. They are used in surgical wards, car factories, and in general manufacturing.
But what's important to consider when developing an interface for industrial use:
- Familiar patterns do not always work;
- Hardware influences the result;
- First, we design for the main device;
- Testing is necessary at every stage.
Now we are going to talk about each of these principles in detail.
Guiding Principles of UX/UI Design for Professional Systems
According to Clay, a top UX/UI agency in San Francisco, Here are some of the points that every UX/UI designer has to keep in mind when approaching professional systems.
1. This Is Not a Standard Interface
If you are designing a website or a mobile application, you are already designing in a certain ecosystem. For example, software that you create for Windows looks and behaves differently than macOS software. However, an industrial device is a blank slate: you have to work on the lock screen, notification panel, status bar, and every other little detail, all of which is very important.
Overall, the main thing to remember is that even if you have plenty of experience in web or mobile design, it is not going to help you here. When creating interfaces for industrial devices, it is very important to think about how the user is going to understand that the device is working. Do you provide notifications? Or is there an indicator? You get to decide everything.
2. Explore New Patterns
In industrial devices, due to their orientation or screen size, classic design solutions may not be applicable, both visual and behavioral.
The screen can be unresponsive to weak touches, and then it is impossible to implement swipe interactions on it.
Visual solutions may not work due to the specifics of the audience or, again, the limitations of the device itself.
You will need to hold the device and get the touch of it in order to design solutions that are truly convenient.
3. The Hardware Affects the Result
Another thing to not forget is the hardware that you are working with; industrial devices may not have the most top-notch video cards and screens, and the main RAM is mostly dedicated to core computing processes. In terms of design and special effects, you can't go on “feel” alone here. Therefore, it is important to take into account hardware limitations, rely on the capabilities of developers, and consult with them about the possibilities of implementing graphic ideas, as design can both reduce or increase the load on software.
4. Testing at Every Stage
Every industrial interface is unique. There is no way to just guess or use your intuition; you have to test the product at every stage.
Send an interactive prototype for UX testing to the customer and encourage them to show it to their team. Let the employees perform simple tasks in the system and see whether it works well. Attract as many people to the testing process as possible. It might be hard to do because of the unique nature of every industrial device. However, you might be able to find more testers on online services such as UTest.
Don't limit yourself to just usability testing. Conduct A/B testing (i.e. comparing version A with version B and so on) and monitor how the device performs on real tasks after the product is launched. You can still improve it when you collect more information.
4. First, the Main Device
Industrial devices are very often united in a system that has the possibilities for remote synchronization, data management, and information exchange with other devices. Such an ecosystem creates a competitive advantage and involves the user in the purchase of other products of this manufacturer or motivates them to subscribe to additional services. Make the person feel familiar with this interface, regardless of which device they use.
In order to do this, you need to provide a web version of the product and provide synchronization on different devices, as YouTube does. However, always start from the main device and only then move on with new screens and ideas.
Designing interfaces for professional systems is a fun process. You get to explore new opportunities and use familiar tools in unfamiliar ways. These tips will help you make better interfaces that are useful for professionals.