I have been an architect for the last ten years, and I have been a witness to the incredible development of what we call now Building Information Modelling (BIM for short). I am also studying UX Design, and I can’t stop noticing that there is a big opportunity for UX on BIM, let me share this with you.
BIM is the use of 3D modeling information throughout the lifecycle of a built environment asset (a building, a city, a house for instance); to make better decisions with regards to its design, its sustainability, its construction, how the user will experience it, and the return on investment for the owner.
Through the correct use of BIM as digital technology, we can, for example, generate a list of materials required on-site with a click of a button or let the owner experience the building in VR before it is even built. It can have a tremendous impact on the world around us.
The possibilities for the future of BIM are infinite: it will change the way cities operate, how construction is optimized, how users interact with their apartment blocks, even how city infrastructure is maintained and kept working optimally in a city. However, I can honestly say that BIM implementation and BIM-related technology are still in their infancy. Hot BIM-related topics like data-driven design and digital twins are yet being developed and experimented with at an early stage. At this stage, only a handful of countries have BIM standards (UK, Canada, Singapore, among others), and many countries worldwide are beginning to understand its full potential. It will take time for it to reach its full potential. All these possibilities untapped for BIM have a common characteristic: they have a direct interaction with its user, most of the time being a professional in the fields of data, architecture, and engineering.
BIM is just beginning, and it’s here to stay. You can be a part of its development as a UX designer.
You see, BIM is all about data, enormous amounts of it. All this data is populated as the building is designed in 3D and is available to stakeholders in the project: owner, architect, contractor, and user. However, data by itself is useless: we require the right interfaces to make this data understandable and usable. I have witnessed how this robust data inside a model can often get ignored due to bad user experience design in the software that works with this data. It would be such a different story if only we understood better who the user is and what he requires in each scenario.
The opportunity is there for you as a UX Designer: the current applications that operate BIM technology are far behind what we would call a user-friendly experience. They are well known for their complicated interfaces, feature-rich environment that is confusing, and steep learning curves. Look for big names in the industry like Autodesk and Graphisoft to get an idea of what I am mean. I recently wrote an article about it if that would give you some insights on a platform for BIM I use every day in my line of work as an architect. Have a look:
Is there a need for UX design in the BIM Software industry?
Is BIM software falling behind the UX revolution?
There are many more up and coming developers that are trying to harness the future of BIM. Most of them haven’t invested in UX design and believe me they urgently need it! BIM is a field ripe for UX designers, from VR applications, iPhone apps to full-blown desktop apps for both MAC and Windows, and even city management software.
Have a look at this project from the UNSENSE Studio in Amsterdam on what the future of BIM could look like:
As an architect and UX Designer, I am very passionate about this topic and have the intent of being part of the solution. I am busy compiling aspects of the future of the BIM industry that could use UX design. If you are interested in this field, please drop me a line, we could work together.
For now, do some research on the BIM industry and let your creativity flow! What the future will bring in the BIM industry could be shaped by people like you.