BLADED MULTI-SETUP: ENGINEERING SIMULATION MANAGER
Project - Design of new scientific desktop WPF application
Product /service - Application used by mechanical engineers to assess stresses and strains on wind turbine designs by complex strings of simulations
Duration - 6 months
Team - UX designer, developers, domain expert advisors
Activities - Research, team mentoring, user journey mapping, UX/UI design, usability testing
Deliverables - Sketches, low fidelity mockups, testing feedback, UX guidance during sprint cycle
Outcome - Launched in 2016 and seeing widespread adoption. Markedly easier to learn and use, reduced user error and reduced time overall for users' most common tasks
To design Multi Setup required a close, collaborative approach with users - frustrated with the manual effort of their current solution, a handful of key users volunteered to assist in design and I formed a loose design team for the duration of the project.
Beginning by facilitating collaborative concept workshops, I encouraged users to sketch their ideas and used this as a trigger for discussion, identifying key frustrations and priorities for the new product together. We agreed a preferred concept that would solve their biggest frustrations first, and I moved to Balsamiq mockups to communicate this with the developers.
The UX /UI design went through several iterations (shown above), tested with users at the end of each sprint by myself and the developers. Having no other resource for testing work, I decided to instead mentor and train interested developers in user research skills myself, helping them gain confidence in working directly with users and evaluating their own work. This greatly accelerated the project as we were able to complete more in-depth testing and knowledge and empathy for users spread throughout the development team.
The complex nature of the tasks to perform were made more intuitive by appropriate use of layout, colour and graphics in the UI, finding clear language to use throughout the experience, and by designing help and tutorials seamlessly into the application, rather than relying on a traditional manual. Through testing we proved that our iterative approach resulted in an efficient and easy to use product which made a measurable difference to the work of wind turbine engineers.
The application was first adopted by users at DNV GL - who had helped to design it in the first place - and underwent a phase of beta testing before being made available for commercial release. Unveiled at a DNV GL conference in 2014, it was demonstrated to key customers by DNV GL users who had been contributing since the first sketch workshop, to show how it streamlined work, saving time and frustration.
Since launch the application has seen widespread adoption, and proved particularly popular with less experienced wind industry engineers, who find it quicker to learn and more pleasurable to use than the previous solution. For those working with it everyday, it makes a noticeable difference to their efficiency and the UI makes it easier than before for colleagues to pick up and share their work.