Case Study: Shuttle Hardware

The following is a working draft, explaining this project. Language will be cleaned up and additional details will be expanded on soon.

My Role

I was approached by the hardware team to assist in the definition and design of the graphical user interface for a new embedded touch panel LCD, integrated with the new Shuttle series hardware.

I conducted all facets of the design process from start to finish, including: requirements gathering, legacy and updated information architecture, user task flows, interaction flows, and prototyping. I also conducted user research using methods such as interviews, surveys, and frequent design reviews in order to address both user behavior and attitudes. I also conducted paper prototype testing and high fidelity prototype testing in operational environments.

Along the way I also made several important ergonomic and hardware usability recommendations that were overlooked by the engineering team.

The Problem

The hardware group made a decision to replace the existing 2-line x 16-character LCD with a small, 3.5cm by 4.6cm, touch screen display to provide initial configuration and debugging functionality. This change was made without input from myself or other usability practitioner.

Existing LCD Hardware Display.

Challenges

  • The displays were part of racked hardware, placed at a various heights.
  • The screen was incredibly small for accurate touch.
  • No tactile feedback was available, as was previously available with physical buttons.
3D print of touch-screen enclosure (iPhone SE for size reference)

Our Process

A review was conducted in the lab environment using the 3D print of the touch-screen panel at various heights in a rack mount, as would be appropriate for real devices. Index cards (cut to fit in the "screen" opening) were used as a GUI stand-in, as participants were asked to perform a series of tasks. As the user "pressed" each button, the card was replaced with a new display mockup.

When test hardware was available, this process was repeated with a running prototype on the display. A new set of test participants were selected.

The Result

I delivered a report to the hardware team (link to come) which reported on the following:

  • Information architecture review of old LCD screen, with comments on legacy thinking.
  • Updated information architecture of new touch-screen display.
  • Report on the “gorilla arm effect” and how the new display will exacerbate this condition.
  • Update GUI Design Guidelines around display size and midigation of gorilla arm effect.
  • Gray-box GUI wireframes and work flows.

Hardware Intervention

Hardware design changes were also scrutinized during late development cycle updates. Engineering changes where focused around user needs and work flows, when otherwise detrimental design patterns were introduced.

Serial number.