One of the most difficult questions our customers deal with, is how to create the best custom keypad. Based on our experience, customers want to offer many features in their devices, but do not want to create a complex keypad or control system that will be difficult to use. We have found that focusing on these three areas when designing a keypad will help the overall outcome of your product. These areas include: Ease of Use, Balancing of Simple Controls & Complex Operations, and Simplicity on the Outside with Complicated on the Inside.
Ease of Use:
When your device is cluttered with numerous controls, operators can become frustrated. This can cause new operators to become overwhelmed with the learning curve of the device. While also being a hassle for experienced users who may accidentally use the wrong control at the wrong time. While this may only be an annoyance with your standard television remote, it can become hazardous in a high risk environment.
The concept is fairly simple, the less complex a keypad or control system is, the easier it will be to use. The lower the amount of controls, the lower the learning curve.
Balancing of Simple Controls & Complex Operations
A common misconception some of our customers have is that if you reduce the number of controls, you will limit the products functionality. Devices with thousands of different functions, typically do not need a key or control for every function. Many control devices can be simplified because operators typically do not need access to all of the functions at once. The control device may have multiple modes of operation, and the same keypad or control device could have different functions in different modes.
In the case where a device requires a large number of keys, we have found the most common functions to be grouped together and the lesser used functions either separated completely on different keypads or off to the side of the main group. The important thing to remember is that control panels with clean and simple designs are often more approachable, and will tend to have a higher approval rating.
Simplicity on the Outside with Complicated on the Inside
Over the years, we have seen keypads and control devices go from having specific keys hardwired to various functions to having numerous amounts of functions for a single key. Electronics and technology is growing and that means it has become much easier to simplify the design of your keypads and control devices.
Taking time to design and program the electronic components of a device will greatly decrease the need for complex and cumbersome keypads and controls. Technology has advanced to the point where smart machines can change function based on the mode of operation, and even automatically detect and adjust specific conditions without operator intervention.