Style Guide


Does the following seem familiar?

  • Your operators claim they need 10 screens to operate the plant

  • Your graphics look cluttered

  • Your graphics are more colorful than a carnival

  • During an abnormal situation are your operators rapidly jumping between screens searching for the information they need

  • Your graphics developed page-for-page from the P&ID’s

  • Your graphics do not incorporate the latest research into cognitive processing

Do you realize a poor human-machine interface can actually prevent your operators from responding to abnormal situations properly, costing you lost production, equipment damage, and possible injuries?

A Style Guide is a document that specifies the parameters for the HCI. It covers items which govern the look and feel of the user displays such as:

  • Navigation
  • Display Hierarchy
  • Use of Colors
  • Window Management and Number of Screens
  • Integration of Trend and Alarm Information
  • Integration of Other information
  • Identification of Specific Display Objects
  • Intra-Display Communication and Coordination
  • Overview Display Design

It works in conjunction with the Object Library to develop control system displays.

The Object Library is a combination of written documents and computer code that define the actual symbols, or objects, used on the displays. The Object Library is typically purchased from the control system vendor, or it can be commissioned from a system implementer.

Service Description

We will develop a comprehensive Human-Machine Interface Style Guide customized for use at your site. This Style Guide document will be tailored for use at the site to set policy around future implementation, use, and maintenance of the HMI system.

This service begins with a three day site visit to interview stakeholders in the HMI system. UCDS will then generate a draft Style Guide document for Client review.

UCDS will then put on a two day workshop at your site to educate key personnel on the content and proper implementation of the Style Guide.
For additional information or to book this service please E-mail us at:

© 2013 User Centered Design Services


UCDS has in-depth experience in designing control rooms and modifying existing field shelters. Our process is compliant with the ISO 11064 Ergonomic Design Standard for Control Buildings. We interview management, supervision and a significant group of the operators to understand functional requirements, what works well in the existing environment, and identification and correction of problems with the existing design. To learn more Click Here


Situation Awareness

Abnormal situations encompass a range of events outside the “normal” plant operating modes, e.g. trips, fires, explosions, toxic releases or just not reaching planned targets. In the past incidents such as Piper Alpha, Milford Haven, Flixborough, Texas City and the 2003 northeast electrical blackout have all been attributed, at least in part, to a fundamental lack of good situational awareness. Early work of the Abnormal Situation Management Consortium® included a survey of the US petrochemical industry. Based on their research the consortium estimates industry losses of around $20 billion per year from abnormal situations, approximately equal to the total annual profits of that industry. Furthermore these studies indicate that companies achieving Best Practices in operations can improve productivity by 5-12%. To learn more Click Here


Fatigue Alertness Management

We have many customers looking to enhance their shift handover procedures and follow some of the Recommended Practices identified in the API documents; others are focusing attention on fatigue and fatigue countermeasures. We have great solutions for both these topics. For more details please contact Steve Maddox. To learn more Click Here



User Centered Design Services promotes Behavior – Based Safety which is a process that helps employees identify and choose safe behavior over an unsafe one. Safety in the workplace is a combination of three measurable components – the person their environment, and their behavior. To learn more Click Here

About the Control Room Operator Performance Group

The purpose of this group is to share ideas and solutions that contribute to improving the performance of the control room operator. Abnormal situations can be managed safely and effectively if we provide our operators with the right training, workload, environment, and interfaces.