Graphics for HMIs Webcast draws record attendance

Are effective design concepts common sense?
May 31, 2012

The Graphic Design for HMIs Webcast is now available for on-demand viewing, and if the registrations and attendance are any indication, it should draw a lot of traffic. It had the highest attendance that I’ve ever seen for one of Control Engineering’s productions.

There were two presentations: Jonathan Scott from Portland Engineering discussed the process his company used in developing the HMIs for a power station, including the interaction with the users that guided the design decisions. Dal Vernon Reising from Human Centered Solutions talked mostly about his work as part of the ASM Consortium and what that organization found out about how operators engage with their HMIs, and how that guided the ASM design guidelines. Reising was one of the authors of the story, Gray Backgrounds for DCS Operating Displays?

The presentations are both very engaging and the questions brought up some interesting points. If you listen to the very end of the hour, the final question is particularly telling. I asked Scott to evaluate the work his company did on the project he discussed in light of the ASM guidelines that Reising explained. That question came as a result of some of the screens that Scott showed as examples, because there were elements that looked like they were in line with the guidelines, and others weren’t. Scott’s answer said that he hadn’t thought about it, because he had never heard of the ASM guidelines prior to participating on this Webcast. All that information was brand new to him.

That was a surprise to me, to say the least. I suspect Reising was a little flummoxed as well, but I appreciated that Scott was honest. After some discussion back and forth, Scott and Reising concluded that many of the basic concepts of effective HMIs were intuitive, at least to some extent. There are probably lots of people who are not familiar with the ASM Consortium and the organization’s work. Hopefully this Webcast will spread the word a bit more.

The full text of all three ASM Guidelines is available through Amazon.

Effective Operator Display Design
Effective Procedural Practices, and
Effective Alarm Management Practices.

Peter Welander,