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Juni 9, 2017

The business value of good user experience in HMI/SCADA

Omer Qadri
Omer Qadri
omer.qadri@schneider-electric.com

Omer is the product marketing manager for Wonderware Supervisory and HMI products. With over 10 years experience industrial automation software - he is passionate about the customers success.


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Good user experiences don’t happen by chance. They are purposely designed through a user experience design process that aims to create a solution that meets both business and user needs, resulting in systems that are intuitive, useful, and pleasant to use. This is also true when it comes to HMI/SCADA systems. 

When a former IBM President Thomas Watson Jr. told Wharton students in 1973 that “Good design is good business," the idea seemed to be a stretch and even a bit silly. The design and business symbiosis that Watson was advocating back then was more prophecy than reality.

Innovation today is inextricably linked with design, and good design has become a crucial tool to combat commoditization. 

Research has proven that user experience is an important product differentiator. Why? Because improving overall user experience is good for business.  

There’s a changing of the guard taking place in the industrial workforce. The new age millennial worker expects industrial applications to be as easy to use as consumer applications. Young people have had computers in their hands for their entire lives. This new generation questions the status quo and is not willing to accept the constraints by yesterday’s technology. They will no longer tolerate poor usability in the applications they rely on to accomplish their daily tasks. 

Innovation today is inextricably linked with design, and good design has become a crucial tool to combat commoditization.  Research has proven that user experience is an important product differentiator. Why? Because improving overall user experience is good for business.

For industrial automation systems used by various users, the focus isn’t sales but effectiveness, efficiency, and productivity. Systems with a poor user experience can lead to the following consequences: 

  • Decreased productivity
  • Increased errors
  • Increased training costs
  • Decreased job satisfaction
  • Increased employee turnover

System Platform 2017 offers new paradigm in UI UX Design

System Platform's new visualization framework allows you put the focus on what matters the most, the content. 

System Platform 2017 offers revolutionary new way to build re-usable applications. Graphical content is abstracted from the application project. This separates the look and presentation of the UI from the behavior.  The content-driven approach is similar to modern web content management systems with separation of content and presentation. This enables users, even with limited expertise, to add, modify and remove content from any visualization display without the intervention of a HMI developer.   

System Platform 2017 offers revolutionary new way to build re-usable applications. Graphical content is abstracted from the application project. This separates the look and presentation of the UI from the behavior.  The content-driven approach is similar to modern web content management systems with separation of content and presentation. This enables users, even with limited expertise, to add, modify and remove content from any visualization display without the intervention of a HMI developer.

Moreover, the idea of defining process control objects/standards independent of their presentation implementation allows for task-oriented workflows across different users/roles (Technicians vs. HMI builders vs. Automation Engineers vs. Software Engineers). This makes it possible for teams (with varying skill sets) to work in parallel on the different parts of the application. 

The new Visual Build capability is an example of the streamlined UI UX workflow.

The Visual Build workflow gives users the ability to drag-and-drop an object template directly onto the canvas, and through an intuitive wizard-based interface, the system creates a new instance of the template, adds it to the equipment model, and embeds the selected object graphic. 

System Platform 2017 makes it easy for users to implement, deliver and maintain visualizations with greater standards compliance and increased accessibility due to improved UI UX workflow.

Find out more about Wonderware System Platform 2017

The key to a good user experience is to involve actual end users throughout a UX design process. Iterative design entails prototyping and repeated re-designing and testing applications with actual end-users. This requires the need to easily change the design or layout of the interface if new content has to be added later in the project or if things are not looking as initially desired.