10 Keys for 'Easy to Use' Video Management Software

Author: John Honovich, Published on Jan 02, 2010

In this report, we examine well established usability principles for software, how they are routinely violated and what can be done. Contrary to common suggestions, the answer is not more training, ignoring it because engineers can use it as is or simply dismissing the need as a matter of opinion.

Training = Failure

If Video Management Software requires experienced security professionals to be formally trained on using it, than it is not easy to use. Easy to use software enables users to quickly experiment and learn the interface as the user explores it. Multi-day training classes should be considered a vice, not a virtue, reflecting software with poor interface design.

Expert Users Do Not Prove A VMS is Easy to Use

It is common to hear experienced engineers talk about how their favorite VMS is 'intuitive'. This certainly is possible but misses the point. Software ease of use is measured by the time and difficulty new users have to learn software, not the ease with which experts who use an application regularly have using it.

Easy to Use is Not Simply A Matter of Opinion

Many people think 'easiness' is just a matter of taste or opinion (Joe's favorite color is blue but Mary's is pink, etc., etc.)

To the contrary, human-machine interaction and user interface design has been developed over the past 50 years. There are broadly agreed upon principles that software developers should follow. Here are a few of the most cited works in the field:

It is likely that many VMS developers are simply ignoring these well established principles.
 
Video Management Ease of Use

In this premium report, we examine the most basic principles and demonstrate how they are routinely violated resulting in user experiences that are both frustrating and cumbersome. We analyze and demonstrate issues with two of the largest IP video providers - Mobotix and Milestone.

End users and integrators should consider difficult to use VMS software to be primarily the fault of the software developers, not of users.

** **** ******, ** ******* **** *********** ********* ********** *** software, *** **** *** ********* ******** *** **** *** ** done. ******** ** ****** ***********, *** ****** ** *** **** training, ******** ** ******* ********* *** *** ** ** ** or ****** ********** *** **** ** * ****** ** *******.

Training = *******

** ***** ********** ******** ******** *********** ******** ************* ** ** formally ******* ** ***** **, **** ** ** *** **** to ***. **** ** *** ******** ******* ***** ** ******* experiment *** ***** *** ********* ** *** **** ******** **. Multi-day ******** ******* ****** ** ********** * ****, *** * virtue, ********** ******** **** **** ********* ******.

Expert ***** ** *** ***** * *** ** **** ** ***

** ** ****** ** **** *********** ********* **** ***** *** their ******** *** ** '*********'. **** ********* ** ******** *** misses *** *****. ******** **** ** *** ** ******** ** the **** *** ********** *** ***** **** ** ***** ********, not *** **** **** ***** ******* *** *** ** *********** regularly **** ***** **.

Easy ** *** ** *** ****** * ****** ** *******

**** ****** ***** '********' ** **** * ****** ** ***** or ******* (***'* ******** ***** ** **** *** ****'* ** pink, ***., ***.)

** *** ********, *****-******* *********** *** **** ********* ****** *** been ********* **** *** **** ** *****. ***** *** ******* agreed **** ********** **** ******** ********** ****** ******. **** *** a *** ** *** **** ***** ***** ** *** *****:

** ** ****** **** **** *** ********** *** ****** ******** these **** *********** **********.
 
Video ********** **** ** ***

** **** ******* ******, ** ******* *** **** ***** ********** and *********** *** **** *** ********* ******** ********* ** **** experiences **** *** **** *********** *** **********. ** ******* *** demonstrate ****** **** *** ** *** ******* ** ***** ********* - ******* *** *********.

*** ***** *** *********** ****** ******** ********* ** *** *** software ** ** ********* *** ***** ** *** ******** **********, not ** *****.

[***************]

A *** ***** **********

**** *** * ***** ********** ** **** ** ****:

  • Spatial ********: Related tasks should be physically close to one another. For example, selecting cameras and controlling PTZs should be very close and physically separated from configuring cameras. It's shocking how often this is violated by VMS systems.
  • Visual ****: ***** ****** ** **** ******* ****** (****, ****, ***********) that ******** *** *** *********. *** **** ************ ***** ******** (click ** * **** ****, ***** ***** ** * ******, etc.), *** **** ********* ** **** ** *** * **** to **** *** *** **** ********** *** ******** *** **** need.
  • Make **** ******** **** ******** ******* ** ******: A system can have hundreds of features but the handful used the most (like selecting cameras and searching video) should be far more prominent than most others. We are amazed at how often VMS vendors bury the most frequently used functions in long series of rarely used controls.
  • Provide ***** ****** *** ********: The UI should make it easy to understand where the user is at and what is causing any problems. It's absurd that many VMS systems do not clearly show whether the system is in live or playback mode. Similar problems exist with error messages, especially when a VMS cannot connect to an IP camera. The messages are often written in technical terms ("cannot connect to the database") is unhelpful for most integrators and users.

***** *** *** *** **** **********/****** ** ** ****** *** they ***** ** *** **** ********** ******** **** ** **** world *** *******.

***** *** *** **** ******* ** *** ******* ** ****** followed ** ******* ******** *** ********** ** *** *********.

Mobotix **** *****

********* *** ** *** ******* ** ***** *********. ***** ******** centers ****** ** *** ******* ******** ***** ********* *** *******' cameras *** ***** **** *** *******.

******* ****** * ***** ********** ******* -************************. **** ** **** ******* *********** ********** *** ****** ****** stands *** ******* ** ** ******** *** ******* *********** **** less ************* *****.

** *** ***** *****, ** ******* ******** ****** **** ******. We ********* *** ********** ******* ********** *** *** ********** ** ********.

Milestone **** *****

********* ** ****** ************ ** *** ** *** *** ******* of *** ******** ********. **'* **** *** ** *** ******/**** mature *********. ******* ****, ***** **** **** ***** ******* ********,******** ********** ******* **** ******** ********* ******.

*** *** ** ****** ***** ***** *** ** ******** *** demonstration ** ****** ** **** **********, ************** *** **************.

Examining ********* **********

*** ****** ***** *** *** ** ************* *** ***** * principles ** *****: (*) ******* ********, (*) ****** **** ****** features ******* ** *** *** (*) ********* ***** ****** *** feedback.

***'* ******* **** **** **** *********** ********** *** ***** ******* to *** ********:

  • "** ******** ******, ** ***** ********* **** ** *** ********, so *** ******** ******* ** ******* ** ** * **** investment ***** ****** *********." ***** *** ******** ********* **** ***** products ** *** **** ************* ******* ** ***** ********* ******* feature ***** **** ****, * *** ******** ** **** ***** are ** **** *********, ** ********** *** ******* ** ***** to **** *** *** *** ** ****.
  • Design *** *** ********, ******* *** *** ********: A pithy maxim from Alan Cooper emphasizes that systems can have numerous features but the system must make the most common cases, the easiest to access and use.
  • ****'* ***- "******** **** *** **** ******** ** ******* **** ** a ****** **** ** * ******** ** *** ******** *** the **** ** *** ******." *** ********* *********** ** **** principle ** **** ** ******** **** *** ****** ******* ******** should ** ***** ** **** ***** *** *** **** ****** ones ****** ** *** *******.
  • ****'* ***- "********* *** **** ** ***** *** * ****** ** make * ******** ** * ****** ** *** ******** ******* he ** *** ***." ******* **** *** **** ******* *** provide ** ** ******, *** **** ********* *** *********** ** becomes ** **** * *********. **** *** ******* ***** **** rows ** ***** ***** *** ****** **** **** ******** ******* power. *******, *** **** *****, **** ******* ******* ********** ** determining ***** *** ******** **** **** **.
  • Beware ** *********** *****: “Whatever language you know, you have to learn the meaning of an icon anew. There's a reason why humans invented phonetic languages where just a few symbols can be combined to produce any word." It's common for VMS systems to use numerous icons (see MxEasy as the worst/best example of this). It may appear that this saves space but what it likely does for most users is cause them to hover over each icon repeatedly trying to remember what the meaning of the icon is.
  • "** ** ********* ****** *** ** ******** *** **** *** features ******, **** ******* ** *********.” **** *** ******** ***** to ******* ******* ******** ** ******* ********, ******** ***** *** overloads *** ****** **** *****, ** ****** ***** ** ******** the ******** ** **** ******* (*****, *** ****** *** * perfect ******* ** ****).
  • User's ********** ** ******** ****: Users can become very frustrated and believe an application is broken if it takes more than a few seconds to respond. Developers who become acclimated to such long delays often over look this. However, for a new user, they have no idea that this is normal and routinely assume the system simply does not work. This problem frequently happens in VMS software both during searches and when logging in to user applications. If the developer cannot eliminate this, clear feedback should be provided (e.g., a percent done display that accurately reflects progress). See a **** ** ******** **** **** ***** *******.
 
*******, *** ******** ***** **** *** ******** ****** *** *** limitations ** ****** *****. ********** ** ** ***********, **'* ********** that ****, ** *** **** *****, ** ***** ********** ******** will **** ******* *********/** ******. ** **** ***** **** **** smaller ********** **** ***** **** ****** *** ****** *** ** users. ***** ** *** ********* ***** ****, ** ** ********* that ******* ****, ********** *** ******** **** **** ** ******** *** users **** *** ********* *****.
 
*** ********* ****** ***** **** ************, ********, ********* *** ***** come **** **** ******'* "***** ****: *** ********** ** *********** ******."
 
  • *** ******* **designing *** '******* *****', *** *** ************* ******** ******** ***** *****. This identifies the common danger of developers to assume that their users are technically proficient as themselves and willing to spend time and energy figuring things out. Even with integrators, this cannot be assumed as integrators deal with many product lines and have large numbers of technicians they need to train.
  • ****** **** ******** ******** *** ****** *** ****. ** ** example, * **** ******* *** *** ******** ** "***, * 43 **** ******** ***** *** ******** ** *** **** ***** out ** **** ******, ********** ***** * *****, *** ****** a ****** ** *** **** ***** ********* ************ *** ****** sales. ** *** * **** ** ** ****, **** ** moderately ** **** ****** *****." **** ******* ***** **** ** much ******* *** **** ** ********** * '****' **** ***** face. ***** *** **** ***** ** ****** *** *** *** software *** ****** *** **** *** ******* ************ **** *** computer ******** ***** **** **** *** ********** ***** ********** ****** for.
  • ****** *** ******** ***** *** *********. **** * ****** ********: "The ***** ***** ** **** **** ******** **** ***** ******* 3 *** * ** *** *******, *** *** ***** ** any ***** *** **** ** ** *** ******." * ** amazed ** *** ********* **** **** ***** *** ***** **** scenario ** ** **** *** *******. ** ******** *** ************ usability *** ****** *********, ******* ***** ** **** '******' ** use.
Login to read this IPVM report.
Why do I need to log in?
IPVM conducts unique testing and research funded by member's payments enabling us to offer the most independent, accurate and in-depth information.

Related Reports

IP Camera - 15 Year Shootout on May 22, 2017
How far have IP cameras come? We bought and tested 4 cameras across the past 15 years to understand how much and where performance has...
Remote Video Monitoring Providers Directory on May 19, 2017
Remote video monitoring can help integrators generate RMR plus end users lower their security costs and/or improve response to critical...
FLIR Is Giving Away $3,000 Demo Kits on May 17, 2017
Everybody likes free stuff, and FLIR is using that concept to attract dealers by giving them $3,000 worth of demo gear for attending a...
Selling and Valuing Security Integrators on May 12, 2017
This ia a tutorial in how to (1) determine your security integrator's value and (2) to sell your security integrator. If you own an integrator,...
Alarm Circuits Guide on May 09, 2017
Alarm circuits are a fundamental element of wired burglar systems. Designing the alarm circuit greatly affects its performance. In particular,...
Hanwha 9MP Fisheye Camera Tested (PNF-9010R) on May 09, 2017
12MP sensor fisheye panoramic cameras are becoming increasingly common. We have tested Hikvision's DS-2CD63C2F as well as Panasonic's SFV481 4K...
Panoramic Camera Usage Rising 2017 on May 08, 2017
Panoramic camera usage (including fisheye and multi-imagers) continue to rise rapidly. However, the race to the bottom is hindering even stronger...
Code Blue Emergency Communications Profile on May 05, 2017
Code Blue is a US-based manufacturer of emergency call stations, call boxes, and incident management software. Over time, the company has shifted...
Smartphone Controlled Kevo Lock Tested on May 04, 2017
Smartlocks are a growing market, with millions sold. Kwikset's Kevo is one of the most common choices, using the Unikey smart phone access control...
Varifocal Vs Fixed Lens Statistics 2017 on May 04, 2017
Varifocal camera lenses provide more flexibility at installation time, but come at a higher cost. Fixed lens cameras reduce hardware costs, but can...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Pelco Shutting Down Clovis Line, Laying Off 200 on May 22, 2017
Pelco's Clovis facility once turned out some of the industry's most popular products. Now, the facility is mostly building "obsolete" equipment,...
IP Camera - 15 Year Shootout on May 22, 2017
How far have IP cameras come? We bought and tested 4 cameras across the past 15 years to understand how much and where performance has...
Remote Video Monitoring Providers Directory on May 21, 2017
Remote video monitoring can help integrators generate RMR plus end users lower their security costs and/or improve response to critical...
Axis Criticizes OEMs: "When You Buy An Axis Camera, An Axis Camera Is What You Get!" on May 19, 2017
When you buy a Honeywell camera, you likely get a Hikvision, Dahua or some other company's product. The same goes for easily 100 different...
Hackable 125kHz Access Control Migration Guide on May 19, 2017
Despite being one of the most popular credentials, 125 kHz credentials are easily copied and insecure as we showed in our test results, video...
Forget The Backdoor, "ALL HIKVISION PRODUCTS" On Sale on May 18, 2017
Less than 2 weeks after the Hikvision Backdoor was confirmed, Hikvision has launched a sale "ON ALL HIKVISION PRODUCTS". In this note, we examine...
Amazon Techs Installing IP Cameras Tested on May 18, 2017
In 2015, Amazon started offering video surveillance installation. Now, Amazon has made it a lot easier, with automatic add-on options and...
Hanwha Recorder Vulnerability Analyzed on May 18, 2017
ICS-CERT has released a vulnerability notice for Hanwha SRN-4000 recorders.  Hanwha provided additional information to IPVM about this issue,...
DMP Video Doorbell / Access Reader Examined on May 17, 2017
Consumers increasingly demand video doorbells, with "doorbells selling like hotcakes, everyone wants a doorbell", according to ADT's CEO. At ISC...
ShotSpotter To IPO, Facing Low Revenue and Losses on May 17, 2017
A rare event for North American security manufacturers is upcoming. ShotSpotter is planning to IPO on the NASDAQ, aiming to raise $34.5...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact