Interaction Design
  June, 2014

Common pitfalls in physical interface design

Hari Nallan

For tangible products (and more so, domestic appliances), I find designing their interfaces quite challenging. Interestingly, we all know that User Experience Design as we know today actually evolved from tangible (electronic) products of 70s that going further gave birth to the concept of HCI (Human Computer Interaction).

Coming to the topic, what I find challenging in physical interfaces is the lack of challenges. If you've been through the grind of UX design in the last 10 years, you would probably understand what I'm meaning by challenges.

If you make a task model for say, a washing machine, it would look much simpler than a simple enough online product (purchasing flow for ebay, for example). Hence, usually, the approach hovers somewhere between visual design to over design. You'd probably spend needless hours trying to sell your graphic design concept to those marketing folks who would insist on a redder red and bluer blue. You would still not understand why that mechanical engineer cannot move that power button few millimeters to the right and help you get your basic design (layout and affordances) right.

So, those of you who have been designing physical interfaces, what is your experience like? What is your approach like and what are the problems you are solving?

Hari Nallan

Hari Nallan

Founder and CEO of Think Design, a User Experience strategist, Designer, Speaker and Educator. Think Design is a Leading Design consultancy with offices in Denver, New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru; and collaborates with visionary organisations to identify, build and materialise innovative products and services.


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