Better usability with haptic control elements


Our world is becoming increasingly digital. Many physical products are being replaced by digital products. Large full-touch displays are replacing hardware input elements. Fewer hardware elements need to be manufactured, which can save production costs. The cleanability of a product can be significantly improved if hardware buttons, keyboards, etc. are replaced by digital "on-screen keyboards", sliders, etc. This can play a decisive role in medical technology and food processing in particular, but also in many workplaces in times of corona.

Another advantage is that a digital product is also easier to update. However, there are also applications where it makes sense not to do without physical input elements.

When do haptic controls make sense?

This can be the case, for example, when users have to operate additional input elements with their foot because they do not have a free hand, as is often the case in medical technology, for example. Physical input elements also make sense if there is actually a mechanical design behind them, e.g. a brake. Here, safety-related aspects may be the reason to stick with a physical control element. However, there are also non-critical applications in which hardware input elements make sense, e.g. in industrial applications where users wear thick work gloves with which it is not possible to operate a touch display and we do not want to force the user to constantly put on and take off their gloves. Or if the user has to make an adjustment "blind", e.g. with his or her eyes on a workpiece, a patient or the road while operating a hardware control (see image reference 01).

Here, haptic feedback is of crucial importance for the user. Replacing it with a digital control element on a screen is not possible. Sometimes a type of use has become so ingrained in the target group and is so familiar that relearning it seems difficult and does not make sense. For example, the volume control on the music system / in the car or the temperature setting on the stove as a rotary control makes sense. However, it can be perfectly combined with a digital display.

Our work process

We often design products for industrial applications or medical technology that cannot do without certain physical buttons, controls or input elements. During the design process, we work with our customers to carefully consider which elements should be simplified or digitized and which operating elements should remain as hardware solutions. During the usability check and in our concept phase, we examine existing and old systems, competitor products, new developments or even input systems from other sectors in order to develop an ideal operating concept for you.

In the further process, we not only design the screens and the input elements on them, but also the hardware actuators required in detail. We can also optimize these from a usability and user perspective (e.g. type of control element, shape, size, traction, cleanability, handling, usage environment, material, etc.), but also from a manufacturing, storage, assembly, maintenance or transport perspective, for example, in order to effectively reduce costs. For reasons of cleanability, control elements can be designed to be removable, such as the Twist Pads from Neff (see image reference 02). Sometimes control elements need to be integrated flush or recessed into a product or be retractable, e.g. to optimize transport or protect the control unit from mechanical damage (see image reference 03).

In our prototype and model construction workshop, we can produce initial samples of control elements as proportional and functional models in order to get a feel for the future operation of your product and to be able to further optimize the control element.

From our everyday design work

It is important for us to achieve a good interplay between hardware and software elements and to develop a strategy for how the user can interact ideally with your product. Sometimes, especially with older or evolved systems, we have cumbersome input paths that require the user to use several control elements alternately, e.g. a touch display alternating with a rotary control. If the user has to change hands more frequently, this requires more time and complicates operation. It is also important that the user always knows where to interact and when. For example, visual feedback, a light, an icon, colour or similar can be used to quickly visualize which operating elements are currently active on the screen, but also on the hardware controls. This prevents the user from finding themselves in the awkward situation of not knowing why, for example, tapping on the screen has no effect.

If this is possible, we allow the user different input paths so that users can decide for themselves how they want to operate a device at that moment based on their own preferences or circumstances (e.g. gloves). For example, a user interface can be designed in such a way that it can be operated completely via touch as well as completely via a rotary/push button and this can also be changed on the fly during operation.

Sometimes a certain haptic control element is also an element steeped in history that has been further developed over many product generations and has become a brand-defining characteristic of the appearance. If such an element is to be digitized, it can make sense to digitally stage this element on the screens themselves and provide it with appropriate functionality. If a round hardware button is an important design element and characterizes the brand perception, it can either be reduced or given a three-dimensional shape in the screen design and thus continue to contribute to the brand's distinctive appearance.

Sometimes several functionalities have to be mapped with just one or more hardware buttons. Here, too, it is important to develop an operating concept that is not only pleasant and meaningful for the user, but also has a high level of fault tolerance, i.e. forgives user errors and does not cause any serious consequences.

We are also happy to support you in the design of software and hardware user interfaces and ideal operating workflows. Get in touch with us.

BMW center console control unit
Kitchen appliance Control element
Oven with touch display
Rational kitchen appliance display
Rational kitchen appliance

Our expertise is not only proven by 400+ awards, but also by the enthusiasm of our customers.



"How can tasks and challenges be solved successfully? To do this, you need partners who can correctly grasp and present a task in all its complexity. Setting the right priorities in the future-oriented field of tension [...] and being able to implement them "down to earth" is part of the success DNA at BUSSE Design+Engineering, which we greatly appreciate."



"As an experienced design partner, BUSSE offers everything from a single source. Creative design solutions, prototyping through to small series production and UX design for software. The solution approaches and methods through to implementation always lead to a result that perfectly meets the requirements."

UI/UX Design


„BUSSE is our design game-changer for snow groomers! Their UI/UX team elevates not only icons and layout but the entire user experience to a new level. Clear operation turns every ride into a pleasure. Reliable from development to series production, BUSSE is by our side. Their interface, based on precise product research, simplifies operation. Flexible, forward-thinking, and reliable – BUSSE is our satisfaction guarantee!"



"BUSSE has been the perfect partner for us to develop new and innovative ideas for over fifteen years. BUSSE offers a very high level of professionalism and a first-class understanding of the brand. The team has completely internalized the high standards of our projects and with exceptional creativity, as well as full dedication, has helped us to set new trends. Many of our bestsellers bear BUSSE hallmarks."


Britax Römer

„Child seats are not only visually complex but also technically demanding. Our longstanding partnership with BUSSE turns development into a creative experience. Design sprints and a versatile selection matrix relieve engineers, minimize time-consuming iterations. We appreciate BUSSE for their timely implementations despite limited resources. The collaboration is not only effective but also truly enjoyable!"



"We were particularly impressed by the enthusiasm and technical creativity of the Busse employees. The atmosphere in the project was characterized by professional looseness and great agility. We turned an idea into a finished product in 4 months!"



„We discovered BUSSE Design+Engineering through online research. Contacting them for a functional model led to a contract for a technical redesign. Due to our concept changes, Redesign II was initiated and realized in a prototype, earning a golden award at the 2019 Ambiente trade fair. BUSSE executed the project with precision, on schedule, and with excellent craftsmanship. We look forward to future collaboration with BUSSE."



„The collaboration with the entire project team was always goal-oriented, constructive and pleasant in terms of communication. Mr. Timm and his project team always kept the functional and safety requirements in mind and understood what is also important to us in product development: can-do mentality, agile mindset as well as flexibility and efficiency in all project situations."



"With BUSSE as a sparring partner, we were able to successfully work out a brand-defining design for our latest products that was appropriate for the target group. BUSSE understood our internal company processes very well and was therefore able to deliver optimal results. Deadlines were always met, you can rely on BUSSE. Anytime again!"



"We were positively surprised by the collaboration with BUSSE in that the focus was not solely on the appearance of our product, but rather on the interplay of economical manufacturing solutions, optimized ergonomics and a functional design. The result now impresses with a coherent, unprecedented design concept."