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21 Engineers and Product Designers Reveal the Single Best Way to Balance HMI Design and Usability

Recently, I was featured in an article by Angela Stringfellow, on finding the best way to balance HMI Design and Usability. While most of the experts agree user involvement is key, the article didn't dig into "how " to include the user in your process, which will greatly impact the validity of your design. What methodology should you use to obtain the most accurate insights? How do you know if can trust the data? While any attempt to pull the user into your design process is better than none, if you really want to design a great product, use an UX expert. It's through their experience that you gain an ability to accurately interpret user insights, that can turn $1M into $100M.

Human-machine interface (HMI) design is one of the most critical aspects of product design. It’s a delicate balance of form and function, facilitating communication between machines or devices and the humans that operate them. HMIs must support the product’s functionality in a way that’s user-friendly for the humans tasked with operating the machine.

In other words, HMI design and usability must exist in harmony; poor usability or ineffective functional design can have substantial impacts on the usefulness of any product. To gain some insight into how product designers and engineers tackle this challenge, we asked a panel of engineers and design pros to answer this question:

“What’s the single most effective way to balance HMI (human user interface) design and usability?”

“Your users are your source of balance…”

The best, and really only, way of balancing the elements of a design properly is user-centered, iterative design – truly understanding your users and their goals and then creating, testing, and measuring the usability of your design, and iterating the design based on this. In this way your users will help you find the balance – what makes sense to trade off – do they want a clean simple-looking design? What features can be removed? What features can be hidden? Involving your users in your design and development process is truly the only way to find the right balance in a design.

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