The User is Always Right. Creating Interactive Content

In the first post of this series, we talked about the tools, both software and hardware, used to create and deploy interactive content. In this second post, we will discuss some basics of user interface design.

There are agencies and experts that literally spend a life-time designing, testing, and refining user interfaces. There are awards given, books written, and we won’t dare to cover the full range of this discipline of User Interface Design or User Experience Design. There is simply too much to cover.

But there are a few things that we’d recommend you keeping in mind when designing touch content for Planar displays.

1. Consider the physical display placement when placing touchpoints
We often see displays, especially large format displays, mounted high enough on the wall that users can not reach the top buttons. Unlike designing for the web or tablets, digital signage has a physical aspect and it is important to know how and where the displays will be installed before finalizing the content. The content is not just virtually on the screen, it is physically in the space. Content on the screen is just another aspect of accessibility (a topic near and dear to our hearts, as our products are designed for ADA compliance).

2. Consider the audience
Touch screen interfaces can be great ways to break down traditional language, cultural, or age barriers. Unlike a printed form or a person at a counter, the content on a touchscreen can be easily translated, it could include pictures or video instead of text (for pre-literate preschoolers or for the ease of anyone), and even text can be resized for easier readability. In western cultures, the language reads from left to right, which means buttons to the right signal “next” and buttons to the left signal “back”. This isn’t true in other cultures. Consider the audience of your application and size the buttons, text and the like appropriately and consider options, like font size, video help, etc, to increase the likelihood that your message will get across.

3. Tell the user what to do
There is nothing more frustrating than an interface that isn’t intuitive. Where buttons are hidden or obscured. Where directions are ambiguous. Where users get stuck along the way to achieving their goal. It is critical that the interface tell the user what to do and then allow them to do it successfully. Use motion, color, graphics, and text (when necessary) to walk users through the process and communicate their progress. Be consistent in your direction and the placement of buttons and graphics on the screen. They will thank you for it.