Design For Use
What do we mean when we say design for use? Well, when you design a touch panel, take into consideration who will be using it and how will it be used. Will it be an operators panel that is more complex but which allows for greater technical flexibility? Or will it be an executive panel that must look impressive but have limited functionality with fewer options?
The Operator's Panel
This is probably the most complex of all panels because it is aimed at users that have advanced knowledge of the over all system. With their knowledge comes the need for greater control over the equipment. The upside of the operators panel is that it gives the user much finer granularity over how they can control the equipment. The down side is that this type of panel demands more training so if untrained users need to operate it, it will be more difficult to use. Typically, there are fewer graphical "bells and whistles" on an operator or tech panel. Also, tech or operator panels tend to be larger to accommodate the extra control elements.
Simple Operators Panel
The Executive Panel
With users becoming more "tech savvy", the executive panels have become more complex. Undoubtedly the executive panel will need to look slick and clean. With fewer buttons, it will need more "one touch" buttons that will accomplish many tasks with the touch of a single button. A good example of this is when a users selects an input source, the lights are dimmed, the screen lowers, the projector is turned on and the equipment routes the appropriate input to the correct outputs.
Simple Executive Panel
The Hybrid Panel
A hybrid panel will provide two modes of operation. One mode will be a full control operators interface while the other mode is a simple and clean executive panel. These are more expensive and complex to design but in the end many panels reach this point eventually so it is better to build in the features up front!
Simple Hybrid Panel
The Reality or Mimic Panel
The reality panel is a touch panel that mimics a real life process. It could be a microphone switching panel with the outline of a boardroom table with buttons that represent mics that can be turned on or off. It could be a blueprint-like image of a prison cell block with door opening and closing buttons. These panels should stand on their own and not be cluttered with unrelated controls.
Simple Mimic Panel