<strong>Things to Consider When Designing a Touch Panel</strong>

Things to Consider When Designing a Touch Panel

June 12, 2018
Audio/Visual Touch Panel | Electronic Contracting Company

By Matt Kubes

One of the most critical processes in an Audio/Visual project is the design of a touch panel. The touch panel is typically the end-user’s only interface to an AV System, so making it easy to use and understand is a must. The design should be dictated by the end-user with the panel designer offering suggestions. The client will be the one using the system once the integrator is finished, so it needs to look, feel, and operate exactly like they want it to.

A key component in this process is submitting a design to the client for review before the actual programming takes places. Taking the time to go through this process is a no-brainer for integrators and end-users because less time is wasted at the end of the project. There should never be a case where the Audio/Visual System is turned over to a client and the touch panel interface isn’t what they were expecting. The actual end-users of the system should be the ones involved in the design process with the integrator and not, for example, administrators of the organization who manage these projects but will never use the system themselves. If this is the case, expectations are not always met and all parties can be left frustrated.

The touch panel submittal process is a dynamic one that varies from job to job. Some customers want to avoid being involved with the finer details. They want it to be easy to use and above all, they want it to work. Other customers are more tech savvy and need different levels of operation. For example, a church Sound Reinforcement System may have a basic mode utilizing some microphones. When they press the power button, everything will automatically turn on and most aspects of the system will already be set-up and ready to go. They will only be able to adjust levels. They can also have an advanced mode that incorporates a large sound mixer and a multitude of different Audio/Visual equipment. The AV interface in this mode only powers on the system and doesn’t automatically set-up the system’s aspects. Trained staff with extensive experience is relied upon to set-up and control all of the system’s functions.

There are a number of different things that a designer can do that transform a good interface into a great interface. To some clients, the colors, fonts, and branding on the touch panel are vital aspects and topics that should be addressed. Button icons are something that I tend to avoid. They can be confusing depending on the type of icon and where they’re placed on the panel. If text accompanies the icon then it eliminates confusion when using the panel by letting the end-user know exactly what’s going to happen if they press that button. Another useful technique is hiding or graying out buttons if they can’t be used depending on the mode or state of the system, otherwise, the end-user could be left confused.

When it comes to touch panel designs, the most important thing to remember is that the interface has to be easy to use and understand. How you reach that destination is different every single time. You won’t be able to follow the same path on the next project, but if you adhere to the key rules, you’ll be able to provide your client with a great interface that gives them a positive experience with every use.