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User-centered Design (UCD) - Smart Buildings that just work.

Updated: Aug 14, 2022

When a passion for user-centricity is combined with an interoperable data ontology, Smart Buildings can change the world. Lower carbon footprints. Reduced Real Estate costs. Increased lease up value. Happier and healthier tenants. And that's just the start.

The problem is too many smart building users experience app fatigue, big-brother-vibes, and user interface (UI) overload – all of which are compounded by data siloes and IT problems.

Through a single connected data model, apps for everyone, and an outcome-first approach to Intelligent Buildings, ICONICS are ensuring user-centricity is baked into every level of our Intelligent Building Software Stack (IBSS).

So, what is User-centered Design (UCD)?

Popularised by Donald Norman’s 1988 book The Design of Everyday Things, UCD is founded on understanding human beings and their needs - and ending with the answers that are tailored to those needs.

It’s about entering the mind of the customer. And staying there throughout a product's lifecycle.

It’s hard to think of the antonym to user-centricity – you either practice it or you don’t. But UCD is a world away from a system-centered approach to product design. In the system-centered paradigm, you’d start by saying “the thing we are designing must do X” (with little to no regard to the humans that are using ‘the thing’).

In tech, especially in the smart building industry, we tend to think smart means more shiny stuff. In some senses that can be true, but tech is not the end goal - humans are.

Building User-centric Spaces Two quick suggestions based on our approach: [1] data ontologies and [2] UCD-compliant software.

[1] Establish Strong Digital Foundations User-centricity must be baked into the digital fabric of the building. Like it is at physical construction stage(s). System interoperability and data ontologies are the building blocks to any digital fabric.

But what has system architectures, open protocols and IoT got to do with user centricity?

The north star for Intelligent Buildings is to appropriately integrate disparate data sources in a way that future-proofs the wants and needs of the building’s users. Without considering “how” systems talk, you’ll forever be applying sticky-plaster-fixes to a broken system-centered worldview.

[2] Build Delightful App Experiences

Combining that strong digital foundation with a well thought-through UX/UI experience, really is the magic formula. This is deeper than just making things look good, although that helps too. UCD is about asking what your users want and need. What data will make their life easier? Does that data have the context and meaning they require? Can they even act on that data? If no, why incur the costs of storing and presenting it?

Our full-stack approach to Digital Buildings has been designed to act as that Independent Data Layer (IDL) combined with a marketplace of user-centric apps for FM, real estate optimization, workplace and sustainability initiatives. Every building and project is different, but user-centricity grounded in secure data-sharing will always come first for us.

Want to start your smart buildings journey on solid foundations? We’re here when you need us.

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