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OVER THE YEARS, building information technology has significantly impacted the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry. Engineers and designers use it to identify, eliminate inconsistencies and facilitate speed and productivity.
However, just like everything else, the Building Information Modeling (BIM) market is evolving. So, traditional desktop BIM tools aren’t as efficient in meeting current industry needs. And this is where UX design comes in. It allows designers to test the usability and functionality of BIM tools to improve user experiences.
This article dives deeper into why UX design is critical in the BIM software industry.
What is BIM Software?
BIM software is a 3D design and modeling software that optimizes the design processes of architecture, engineering tools, and construction projects. It does this by giving designers insights to make improved decisions on building structure, tools adoption, managing the design process, predicting outcomes, and profitability.
BIM software offers a model-based process for designing and managing buildings and infrastructures, going beyond construction drawings to generate a digital representation of the functional properties of a facility.
The BIM software process involves different procedures to develop comprehensive designs. Generally, it includes the following significant steps:
- Planning: It uses accurate data to capture and generate BIM models.
- Design: It performs conceptual procedures, documentation, analysis, and updates on processes such as schedules, logistics, etc.
- Building: It provides a detailed representation of plans, and designs, allowing designers to monitor progress and make necessary improvements.
- Operation: It transports data BIM to operations and maintenance that can be used for future renovations and constructions.
Further info about what BIM software is can be found here.
Why is UX design necessary in BIM software industry?
Point 1 — It improves BIM tools for better product development
The dominant BIM solutions are desktop solutions. Compared to the present needs and requirements of the BIM software industries, older players like Autodesk Revit and Graphisoft ArchiCAD will need to evolve their UX and UI design to meet the demands of the evolving industry.
The future of rapid data exchange in architecture, engineering, and construction is web-based. Therefore, there are changes in the UX of BIM tools and the BIM environment.
As a modern concept, UX design helps developers and designers increase users’ desirability to meet their expectations and experiences.
So, by adopting UX design in the development and improvement of BIM tools, designers can develop and improve BIM tools to meet web-based demands and users’ current expectations. Essentially, UX design enhances BIM tools by considering the following factors:
- Functional design: It adopts the newest features during development to increase tools functionality.
- Aesthetic design: It considers the outlook of the product to ensure users find it usable (including buttons and switches).
- Experience design: It considers users’ challenges and expectations to design tools that improve their experiences
UX design is critical in the BIM industry to help engineers develop customer-centric software users find more valuable and enjoyable. With it, developers can take cues from previous user experiences with BIM tools and identify their shortcomings.
The future of rapid data exchange in architecture, engineering, and construction is web-based. Therefore, there are changes in the UX of BIM tools and the BIM environment. As a modern concept, UX design helps developers and designers increase users’ desirability to meet their expectations and experiences.
They can identify the challenges of BIM implementation using Revit, Graphisoft, and other BIM-related tools. They can also examine other frustrations relating to features and ask fundamental questions.
This may include: what are the inadequacies and users’ most prominent features? Does anybody need them, and what can be done to make these features more desirable for users?
For example, several features and tools in Revit perform only one function when they can perform multiple functions. Additionally, the tools’ interfaces can be improved for a faster learning curve and a more effortless user experience.
Adopting UX design to evaluate factors like this is a game-changer for the BIM software industry. It enhances new product development to meet present demands. It also increases the adoption rate and enables seamless user experiences.
Point 2 — It will enable users to adjust effectively to the current changes
The newest solutions in the BIM software industry have gone beyond desktop solutions. They are now a combination of web browsers and modern applications. Therefore, UX design is required to test the usability of BIM tools across these platforms to identify common bottlenecks and fix them.
For example, a usability testing tool like Maze can test new users’ experiences using BIM software on a web browser or mobile app to track their activities, note their pain points, and improve. Doing this helps users have better experiences using web browsers and applications. Also, they can navigate each BIM tool on a web browser or mobile application successfully.
Contrarily, without UX design, developers won’t have the insight they need to identify bugs on web browsers and mobile applications and fix them. Additionally, they won’t be able to update interfaces and features of BIM tools across platforms to satisfy users’ needs.
Point 3 — It simplifies processes
Usability is an essential factor of successful BIM tools. The newest and highly demanded UX tools are coming via the web and are simplified and directed at users. These tools target specific audiences and needs. In addition, they are not all-encompassing tools for everyone. They also streamline workflow and simplify user experiences.
Usability is enhanced with an improved UX design. Therefore, BIM software without good UX design suffers from usability. BIM software companies that focus on technology development only and not other crucial factors like usability and experience build software that doesn’t cater to users’ demand for simplified experiences, reducing the adoption rate.
This is because when users encounter challenges of low usability with a BIM tool, they become reluctant to use it. Users are looking for software to facilitate their design and development processes. However, using a tool with complicated interfaces and features won’t help them achieve this.
Therefore, BIM software companies must adopt UX design practices during development and streamline engineers’ activities. Excellent UX design will improve the interfaces, develop responsive features, and enable smooth workflows, improving usability.
Point 4 — It promotes safety
The growth in the BIM industry demands a smart working environment. The market is dominated by projects requiring advanced and complex technologies and aging facility improvement. These project types require higher safety practices to reduce accident rates.
Therefore, companies can adopt UX design practices to improve BIM tools. Usable BIM software promotes a brilliant working environment, enabling automation and digitalization that facilitate safer work processes.
Common BIM software issues and how UX design improves them
Designers and engineers experience specific issues with BIM tools. Let’s examine the challenges and how adopting UX design can fix them.
Point 1 — Complicated user-interface
User interfaces are a vital aspect of BIM software applications. However, many users encounter challenges with an interface that gets in their way, from an unresponsive UI to an interface that is not targeted at specific functions.
Introducing UX design into the process helps BIM software companies develop intuitive and responsive user interfaces.
For example, they can understand common end-to-end concerns that users experience and improve them. They can also configure the interface to match their needs. Since BIM tools have different applications, it’s best to tailor the interface to meet several requirements.
For instance, a project owner may want an overview of their project outlook only. They may not be focused on the plumbing or the HVAC system. Therefore, packing these details into the user interface may be unnecessary and overwhelming for these users. However, these intricate details would be helpful for mechanical, electrical, and HVAC engineers.
UX design enables BIM software companies to identify their target users and their needs. Understanding what they are most concerned about guides them in creating a user interface that works best for them. Therefore, it allows them to create a functional and usable interface that facilitates operations on the BIM software.
Point 2 — A one-size-fits-all BIM user experience
Some BIM tools attempt to solve every user’s problems and needs, leading to complications and affecting users’ experiences. An excellent UX design allows companies to target their applications to meet specific users’ requirements.
Rather than overwhelming users with different functions in one application, they can develop several applications to meet each architectural, engineering, and construction company’s needs. Companies can also ensure every segment has a seamless workflow to enable smooth processes for users.
Point 3 — Complex BIM visualization
BIM tools offering complicated and inadequate visualization experiences prevent the outcome of users’ production. For example, suppose users can’t explore their design models effectively. In that case, they may have an impaired version of what the final product may look like, leading to errors and complications with the design process.
On the other hand, an effective UX design helps companies test visualization features before launch to ensure it is exactly what users want.
UX design is an integral aspect of the BIM software industry. Companies need it to upgrade, streamline, simplify user experiences, and adapt to market changes. This article discusses why UX design is crucial in BIM software and its impact. This includes enhanced product development, streamlined processes, and safety, among others.
Lydia Iseh is a writer with years of experience in writing SEO content that provides value to the reader. As someone who believes in the power of SEO to transform businesses, she enjoys being part of the process that helps websites rank high on search engines.