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Charles_Etienne
 
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Hello There,

I've been struggling with a product recently. It has many push buttons and knobs and switches. They all need labels. I'm being advised to avoid "putting the manual on the product" but I still need to make the text and icons easy to understand.

Anyone have any book recommendations on labeling switches or something similar. It's a UX design thing? But from what I see, UX typically deals with software. Is that not the case?

Just throwing it out there.

Thanks :)

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KenoLeon
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It really depends on the product, maybe you can post it if you can ( or a facsimile ) for input.

In general I think labels are helpful while you are getting to know the product, but once you know what the buttons do you can do away with them, so maybe a disappearing label would be cool.I also think that we have moved to hiding labels and leaving the UI to a screen which I think is not a great solution either, the button doesn't need you to navigate much, but if there is a ton of them then your accessibility plummets, so it is a tradeoff, one last thing that comes to mind ( this one from web/app design) if you have a ton of buttons there is probably a better control scheme like a selection knob or redesigning the UX.

As for sources (that I know of) , I have a love/hate relationship with UX exchange ( mostly due to the platform), but there is plenty on buttons & labels

The design of everyday things (Don Norman) also goes into these subjects.
Eugenio (Keno) Leon
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Charles_Etienne
 
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Hey Keno,

This is similar to the type of product I'm working on:
https://www.google.com/search?q=eurorac ... 20&bih=950

So typically, these do not have any kind of a screen. Since these devices are often handed from one person to the next, permanent labeling seems appropriate.

Let me know your thoughts...

C.

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KenoLeon
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Hi Charles:

So I happen to also be (used to be) an electronic musician, I love analog synths ( never could afford them though) , so I am stuck with Reason : ) for now.

I think the specific analog synth market is perfectly ok with a gazillion knobs because that's what you play with to tweak sounds, the labeling though has always been a bit cryptic to me, so I personally tend to ignore it and just focus on the resulting sound, some labels are helpful, like level, pitch etc, but as you delve deeper into synthesis, things like LFO's ,CV QR'S etc, just become meaningless until you study the manual and experiment a bunch, then it clicks and the labels are there for reference.

Having said that, I think the labels on something like this should be distinct and helpful, having arrows and lines showing the possible routing for instance:

SynthRouting.jpg
SynthRouting.jpg (37.84 KiB) Viewed 2490 times


another good example I think are Orange amps which use a lot of iconography instead of labels:

OrangeLabeling.jpg
OrangeLabeling.jpg (32.83 KiB) Viewed 2490 times


I can't find it at the moment, but there was this one Bass or Guitar Tube Amp or some such that instead of word labeling had sexual positions :oops: , but I bet the player always knew what each knob did : )

Edit: Found it: Manual for a very offensive named guitar Amp possibly NSFW
Eugenio (Keno) Leon
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Mr-914
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Charles: I recommend user testing. If you let 10 users (ie people who would likely buy the product) test it, you will solve 90% of your problem. Depending on product complexity, you could have them test it with no labels and then ask them to describe how everything functions. Or, put your labels/icons on stickers and test it. Keep some stickers and a pen on hand to adjust as you go long. Rinse and repeat.
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Re: Resources for Hardware UI Design Labeling

Postby iab » May 18th, 2017, 7:51 am


iab
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Dreyfuss Symbol Sourcebook is a start, combine that with your creativity and Ray's excellent recommendation of user testing, all will be good.

https://www.amazon.com/Symbol-Sourceboo ... 0471288721

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Cyberdemon
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Mr-914 wrote:Charles: I recommend user testing. If you let 10 users (ie people who would likely buy the product) test it, you will solve 90% of your problem. Depending on product complexity, you could have them test it with no labels and then ask them to describe how everything functions. Or, put your labels/icons on stickers and test it. Keep some stickers and a pen on hand to adjust as you go long. Rinse and repeat.


This this this.

Trying to "guess" what makes sense and then putting it on a shipping product is madness. To put the "Users" back in UX means you need to prototype, test, and get feedback.

Finding some target users and offering them a $20 or $50 gift card for some of their time to gauge comprehension will easily put you on the right path. I can't tell you how many times I've sat in a room with a dozen smart people and we all came up with a solution that completely crapped out once it went to an actual user. The sooner you involve someone outside of the project the quicker you'll find the right answer.

This also has to do with how you might lay out or organize the knobs/buttons themselves. Is there a functional grouping that makes sense?

My favorite example of this was when I was doing mobile keyboard design. Internal folks insisted that the "TAB" button should go on the left of the device because it is on the left side of a QWERTY keyboard. Watching users in their real day to day workflow quickly made us realize that "TAB" acted as a form-forward button and was immediately followed by pressing enter to confirm an action. So clustering them together wound up being a huge productivity boost.

Image


Charles_Etienne
 
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Hey Guys,

Wow Keno, did you used to have that amp? I love it.

Thanks for the responses. We do have beta testing. The product will definitively end up there. It's still young and I'm working on the first couple renderings of the silkscreen layout.

I think the Symbol Sourcebook, might be EXACTLY what I was looking for.

Thanks again..

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ralphzoontjens
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Hi Charles,

If you are hired on a long-term basis you can definitely look into some more radical innovations for this product.

From my experience I agree that doing early user studies is of incredible value. The least you can do is an in-context task analysis and think-aloud or co-discovery protocol. You will get an overall field for the design landscape and just with visual composition you can improve much. If you go into the fundaments of HCI like suggested with Norman's DOET, I also suggest reading up on the Frogger framework:
https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/726e/e16cd0ec45211764560207ae1629c0067ddf.pdf
and Rich interaction as developed by Joep Frens: http://alexandria.tue.nl/extra2/200610381.pdf
As designers we need to start thinking beyond the WWII-era push-button, sliding and turning paradigm.

One cost effective solution can be capacitive sensing.
I suggest going at least for a multimodal approach where controls are not only distinguished by position and accompanying icon but also in other aspects like shape, texture, how they feel and make a mapping between the controls and their effects that makes sense in the minds of your specific customers. Also a clever integration of functions into one control ('stacked actions' in IxD terms) can be a great selling point for products, as we have seen with BMW's iDrive.
http://www.designsoul.nl
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Charles_Etienne
 
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Hey Ralphzoontjens,

Such wonderful feedback. Much appreciated. I'm looking forward to reading these PDFs. Totally agree that we need to think beyond the WWII era buttons. That said, you gotta work with what you have. In this case, I have silkscreen and some buttons that I can't move.

But thanks to you guys, I feel inspired. Back to work for me.

Thanks again guys :)


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