For the Chop-Plugs range we have invented a graphical display to show what the
effect is doing. For instance central display of Chopitch always shows the pitch
and how it is changing. This makes it easier to understand how the sound heard
is related to the way the controls are set.
Knobs or Faders?
We chose to use faders rather than knobs, although knobs are more efficient in terms of the amount of space they take up, faders give a more accurate visual guide to the position of the control and are easier to use with a mouse .
Maximum precision and quick access
We use a hexagonal "track" for the fader to run in, which makes it very easy to see how close it is to max and min positions. The sharp points on the diamond shaped faders help with this, and where there are meters next to the faders the meter reading lines up accurately with the points.
To move a control quickly, it's only necessary to click in the "track" to make the fader jump to a new position, and we made the diamonds big enough so it's easy to grab them quickly when required.
Numerical readout and type in
Mostly we don't give a numerical readout for control values, the settings don't need to be written down because they can be easily saved for recall, the dynamically updated display gives a visual guide to exactly what is going on as the controls are changed. For Chopitch we made it possible to type in a pitch for maximum accuracy.
Research into user interfaces indicates that users find short words easier to understand than representative icons, and that the legending may as well be small, as experienced users no longer need to read it.
We kept the legending as small as possible so as not to distract the eye, and to make the best use of available space. We included a row of icons for presets, not common practice for plug-ins, but useful as a demonstration and as a hands-on tutorial. In this case, we thought it would be easier to associate abstract sounds with icons than it would with words.
Instead of using frames to group the controls, we use colors. For example the green buttons correspond to the green line in the dynamic display, and belong to the green group name. The static elements have little color so the eye easily focuses on the changing elements.
The background image compliments the character of the audio effect, but is simple enough not to be distracting, and not too expressive since it may or may not go with the music being processed.