Designer's interview

Embracing the challenge of total design that went beyond product categories

Masumi Ikeda

bizhub C3850 full-color multifunction printer

Multifunction printers (MFPs) are products that bring together multiple functions such as copying, printing, scanning, and faxing. The bizhub C3850 is an A4-size color MFP that can be used in a variety of environments worldwide, from small boutiques and home offices to large workspaces.


Making the product accessible to a broad range of customers

I’m responsible for user interface (UI) design for MFPs.
Since my days as a student, I've been interested in the user interfaces of not only consumer products, but also products used in a business setting. As someone who’s responsible for MFP design, I emphasize ease of use and think about how customers will use the MFP as I design its UI.

MFPs are used in different ways by an extremely broad range of customers. Some customers use only copy and print functions, while others frequently need to fax documents. Some users prefer an interface with few buttons and simple screens, while others seek an efficient user experience that brings together a wealth of information on one screen, so it's important to decide where to set your sights.
Even if you think your design is a good one, it often turns out that customers are using the product differently than you assumed they would. Every project is a series of trial and error efforts undertaken in conjunction with other members of my team.

The concept is “INFO-Palette.” Allowing users to customize the interface as if they were choosing their favorite paint color

The design of the bizhub C3850 inherits the “INFO-Palette” concept used by existing models in the bizhub series. Recognizing that the control panel is the initial contact that users will have with the product, we use a “white board” motif for the panel on the front of the black printer enclosure.
The control screen incorporates a painter’s palette as a visual identity (VI) element. In this metaphor, functions are paint colors. The idea is that users can freely customize their MFP as if they were placing their favorite paint colors on a palette.

The bizhub C3850 uses multi-touch technology to further enhance usability. It’s become a matter of course to see multi-touch screens on devices like smartphones, but such operation was unthinkable on MFPs until now. The Design Center responded to the wishes of the development department to incorporate multi-touch, and I worked on this challenge with them. Things didn’t go smoothly at first. We had various difficulties, but the functionality improved gradually, and eventually we were able to incorporate it into the control panel. Now both A3 and A4 models use it.

The “INFO-Palette” concept goes further than external appearance; it’s used throughout the product’s design, including on control screens and even in related applications. Everyone on our team is working together to bring this concept to our design work, in smartphone apps, online manuals, and cloud services, so that customers can make seamless use of various services.