Case Study

Chemical Engineering Design

  • Energy

We conducted a large-scale project to better understand users and create concept designs for 12 products being combined into a new version.


Over the past 30 years, Invensys have been the go to platform for chemical simulation and modeling and currently create software to automate processes for everything from oil refineries to power stations. Our challenge was to re-examine their legacy design work and to innovate a collaborative and compelling user experience for chemical engineers.

Picture 1

We combined over 12 separate legacy products into a single, unified simulation modeling platform that new and experienced users would find easy to use and adapt into their workflow.



In order to gain a deep understanding of chemical engineers and how they mapped out their workflows we tested a pool of 75 users comprised of current customers as well as Invensys team members.

We used a combination of multiple research activities including contextual inquiry field studies, interactive card sorting, discovery workshops and usability testing of existing simulation tools to get the understanding we needed. Picture 2


The first iteration of design was born from analyzing and translating these research insights into real world designs tailored to these users who ranged from the experienced engineers with 15+ years experience to recent graduates just gaining entry into the field.

Validate & Refine

Doing usability testing in conjunction with design work we were able to validate the designs, quantify the usability, and get feedback directly from the customers. We used this feedback to further refine the designs to meet the customer's needs as well as designing a high quality product.


Through multiple iterations, a final UI framework was created that found the best balance for supporting novice users and experienced pros. A large design challenge tackled was creating a UI Framework for the platform.

UI Framework

A big piece of the design work revolved around detailing the visual vocabulary and taxonomy of the product, in addition to visual indicators for a range of data states.

The final UI framework we created included new features such as a detailed navigation, palettes, badging, multiple data states and advanced data views to visually aid the customers.

PIcture 4 The Windows Ribbon is the primary navigation structure for NextGen. The ribbon's structure is heavily influenced from the card sort activities and maps to the UI Architecture created from these activities.


Another large piece that came out of the iterative design and testing cycle was the Invensys NextGen 'œDashboard.' It is a homepage-like landing screen designed to expose the full functionality of the product (since it unified 12 previously separate products)! It also allows users to track the progress of their simulations and to collaborate with other teammates '“ all concepts that surfaced during the contextual interviews. picture 5 The dashboard was redesigned to: Reveal NextGen capabilities to all user personas; Provide a task-centric dashboard; Focus on continuous process simulation workflows

Mobile App Concepts

A major goal of the Invensys project was to explore truly 'œnext generation' interactions beyond the desktop and begin designing for mobile and touch screen deployments. Our contextual inquiry research unearthed a range of options for mobile and touch, and user feedback indicated that a mobile solution would be very useful in certain targeted scenarios. We decided to explore one such scenario as a tablet solution, to showcase the mobile future of the product. Picture 6

Services Used