I write control equipment software for a living. That’s the software that operates manufactureing processes. Controlling the equipment is always the easy part, building the interface that allows an operator to operate the process is significantly harder. Unfortunately, the user interface is always the part that’s just left up to the designer, me. Now, I’ve gotten pretty good at it over the years but I still hate having to come up with all the ideas on my own for operating a process I may have three weeks experience in and that based completely on just reading the functional description. I’m also the one that usually ends up with the job of writing this functional description, at times for a process I’ve never seen before.
Now before this turns into a rant (I know, too late) let me get to what I wanted to point out. I’m making this NYTimes article required reading for all my customers. A successful project not only requires understanding the process and the equipment, understanding the user, or operator, is just as important as knowing when to ramp up temperatures or pressures and knowing the operating limits of the equipment.