Embrace or Steer Clear of Modes? UX Design for Improved Mode Awareness

Aniko Sandor
22 Sep 2018
4:00 pm - 4:20 pm
The Loft

Embrace or Steer Clear of Modes? UX Design for Improved Mode Awareness

You keep getting an “incorrect password” message logging in because Caps Lock is on and you don’t notice. You sent a document to your stakeholders without accepting changes because you saved it in preview mode and did not notice the remaining redlines. How can we design systems to avoid these errors?

Complex systems often rely on modes for different sub-systems. When modes are used in an interface, instead of a unique set of displays and controls for each mode, the same set of displays and controls carries out different functions depending on the mode selected. Mode error or mode confusion happens when the user is not aware of the mode of the system and expects a different type of system behavior upon interaction.

There are many guidelines to prevent mode errors in safety-critical areas such as human-automation interaction and human-robot interaction. However, there is less attention on modes and their design in consumer products and websites. The talk will draw on examples from work in aerospace and HomeAway for designing modal user interfaces.