As a diploma thesis student from the Media Computing Group, I´m working at a manufacturer of test systems to examine how the application of HCI design patterns can improve the usability of industrial control systems. My supervisors are Jonathan Diehl (Media Computing Group) and Matthias Salmen (VKA).
Besides graphic design and usability, photography has become a favorite hobby and passion for me. You can have a look at my personal website to see some of my shots.
Bringing Usability to Industrial Control Systems
During the last years, usability has become recognized as a key competitive factor across many market sectors. Especially web agencies and companies from the consumer market realized that a good usability and a compelling user experience of their products can increase sales and market shares.
Although this change of thinking draws through many different branches, the industrial sector remains relatively unaffected from this new movement. Software applications from the industrial sector are build much more with focus on functionalities instead on an easy and efficient use. We believe that this is partly due to the software development processes that dominate this market segment. Whereas more and more companies from the consumer market implement quite successfully iterative software development processes, most industrial companies still use sequential development processes.
In this thesis, we present an approach that uses human-computer interaction (HCI) design patterns as an transportation medium to bring domain oriented usability knowledge to developers and product managers. We believe that this approach can boost usability independent of the chosen software development process.
To examine the applicability and effectiveness of this approach in practice, we cooperate with FEV Motorentechnik, a leading engineering service provider, specialized in the development of combustion engines.
Within a contextual inquiry, I became familiar with the field of test bench automation systems and its users. Based on the gained findings, I looked in the literature for domain-appropriate HCI design patterns. Result of this research is a pattern catalogue that consists of 18 HCI design patterns.
Later, I organized a user interface design workshop to examine if the patterns can really help developers and product managers while designing new user interfaces.
- Marcus Reul. Bringing Usability to Industrial Control Systems. Diploma Thesis, RWTH Aachen University,June 2009.
- Marcus Reul. Bringing Usability to Industrial Control Systems. In CHI '09: Extended Abstracts of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pages 3335–3340,May 2009.