I was recently given the task of designing a new product UI (User Interface) for Banlaw. UI is an area of design I find very interesting. The way your audience/customers experience digital interfaces has evolved extremely quickly over the last 10 years or so, thanks to devices like smartphones and tablets… and of course, phablets (It has also created something I like to call “Technology Snobs”, but that’s a whole other blog post in itself!).
The brief for this job was basically to style the interface for Banlaw’s latest Fluid Management System to be in line with their brand guidelines. But there is much more to UI design than brand guidelines; there are challenges inside and outside of a display that need to be considered.
Weather was a factor on this job. The mine sites where the system will be installed may be operating 24/7 which means this screen needs to be legible at all times of the day and night, without blinding the user by forcing them to stare at a clean white screen – it’s never fun when someone shines a torch in your eyes!
The users of this shiny magical silver box containing the FMS interface will likely be in a rush and want to get in and out as quickly as possible. They’ll use fingers/fists/elbows covered in grease/fuel/grime to navigate our interface. Naturally you’d start with large buttons to clearly display the most commonly accessed features. But in the case of this job, there are a lot of buttons which quickly eat up my very valuable screen real estate. It’s at this stage I’d revisit my information architecture: “Does this need to be here on this particular screen?”, “What can I cut out?”. For years I have designed with one simple action applied near the end of a job: “Keep removing elements until you finally break the design”. That’s your sweet spot – that’s where you’re getting the most amount of crucial information out with the least amount of words and effort. That formula was definitely stretched to its limits with this particular job. I loved working on it and was very happy with the end product.