Because a planogramming product must be used by “ordinary computer users,” a prime requirement is that it must be easy to use.
Achieving an easy-to-use planogramming software product involves considerations and requires both skill and prior experience designing for such ordinary computer users.
Here are some examples of design considerations for ease of use:
- The user interface must be intuitive. That usually means being similar to interfaces users already understand; for example, an intuitive program will make use of commonly used controls such as buttons, check boxes, scroll bars, sliders, etc. Being intuitive also involves appearing similar to a real-world object. A planogrammer that displays product images on pegboards and shelves is more intuitive than one that uses product names and x-y locations.
- There must be no “false affordances”. A false affordance is a user interface element that behaves differently than similar elements usually do. A prime example is a rectangular area that looks like a button, but which does nothing when clicked.
- The design must use the minimum number of controls necessary to get the user’s job done. Such a design means that the user is not confronted with a lot of confusing choices all at once. Creating such a design, though simple, often involves much thought and creativity. Examples of such minimalist designs are the iPod controls and the Google interface.
- The user must be given regular feedback on the state, progress, failure, and success of a user interface operation. An example of feedback is an animating “progress bar” while the software is busy performing a task. Another example is popping up information about an object when the mouse hovers over it.
- The interface should employ “direct manipulation” when appropriate. Direct manipulation is a style of interface that involves continuous, direct, interaction with objects on the screen as well as rapid feedback on the results of the interaction. An example of direct manipulation in a planogrammer is the ability to drag a product image out of a catalog onto the display area using the mouse. Another example is right-clicking on a product image in order to change its properties.
- Another aspect of an easy-to-use interface is that it should be difficult to do something catastrophic that would destroy work or progress. Examples of program design elements that prevent catastrophies are “undo” and “redo” controls, prompts for confirmation before deleting important objects or objects which required a large investment of time, backup files of multiple versions of the data, and intentionally-difficult-to-invoke destructive operations.
Our products take advantage of all of these ease-of-use design techniques and many more! As a result, our planogramming software enables field personnel, whether salespeople, merchandisers, marketing staff, or managers, to quickly and easily design colorful and accurate store displays.