Building Diagnostics Web-Tool
Guiding a client through the design process to help energy managers diagnose and fix facilities problems in buildings.

Building Analytics Company


1 Month (Nov 2020)

My Role
User researcher, heuristic analysis, workshop team lead, lo-fi prototyping.

Figma, Stormboard

Project Summary


Guide a 6-person team through a design workshop to research and design better ways for energy utilities managers maintain their buildings.

  • Generative user interviews
  • Heuristic Analysis
  • Workshop with client (journey-mapping and storyboarding)
  • User testing

Providing more detail to the user in less space by leveraging design patterns like drawers and trendines.

Overview of the solution(s)

Our redesigns to the existing analytic system provides the user with more context around what is wrong with each piece of equipment. This allows them to take more appropriate, proactive action.

Diagnostics tabs with additional filters, contextual information (like fault descriptions), and timeline visualizations.

After using a set of filters to drilldown into subsets of equipment, users can find more context in fault specific panel, including:

  • Multiple problems (if they exist)
  • History of the fault
  • Related equipment and faults



Discovery Research

Interviewed 5 casual TED fans to learn more about how they use and find videos.



Explored design opportunities based on insights and pain-points uncovered in discovery research.



Evaluated solutions for an index page redesign by conducting think-alouds with 3 users.


Usability Testing

Evaluated solutions for an index page redesign by conducting think-alouds with 3 users.

More about the challenge

In most facilities, energy managers are responsible for the maintenance of buildings. If a cooling fan in a building breaks, they are the ones who have to assign a technician to fix it.

Our client's software helps these managers by placing sensors in the equipment and flagging potential problems or faults in each piece. However, keeping track of literally hundreds of data points can be a difficult job.

In a world increasingly threatened by infectious diseases and climate change, how might we redesign this software to better assist energy managers in creating healthy and sustainable indoor environments?

Discovery Research

Our client initially approached us to assist them in redesigning their current platform. They were attempting to implement redesigns that would enable their users to interact with building data in more detail. However, having not done so before, they wanted assistance implementing a user-centered process.

Before we got started designing, we knew we had to engage in some generative research to establish a common foundation amongst both of our teams.

From this research, we learned the largest pain points come from compiling lists of faults and equipment that recur at certain points of the year and seeing additional context or detail (such as historical or related information) around particular faults.



User Interviews

We spoke with 5 users to understand how the system is used and what pain points currently exist.


Heuristic Evaluation

Evaluated the current website using Neilsen-Norman's 10 Heuristics to develop an understanding of how the system works and how it can be improved.


To dig deeper into our findings, as well as teach our client about the design process, we hosted a 5-day design workshop with them. I lead one of the two teams, guiding them through activities like journey mapping and storyboarding.


Journey Mapping

My team charted an energy manager's typical day, noting where the diagnostic tool appears and where pain points occur.



Using the journey map, we sketched a scene depicting how our solutions could improve an energy manager's day.


To implement the ideas we generated during the workshop, we went through two rounds of prototyping. We began with low-fidelity sketches and ended with mid- to high-fidelity clickable prototypes.

I created the lo-fis and some of the mid-fis. In addition, I led the client walkthroughs of these designs.

Low Fidelity

Medium Fidelity

High Fidelity

User Testing

To verify our prototypes, we led 4 users through a guided walkthrough of the designs. Our client was sensitive to showing existing customers a prototype version of their platform. Therefore, our team gave them more power in who they could recruit for studies.

I created the protocol and led the sessions.

Our research objectives:

  • Evaluate filters - can the user make sense of the new organization and filter diagnostics down to what they need to see?
  • Evaluate watchlists - do users find watchlists valuable and do they understand how to use them?
  • Evaluate history - do users find old tasks, related diagnostics and equipment useful? Do they understand how to use them?
  • Understand how users drill down into specific diagnostics.
  • Understand how users tag, categorize, and organize tasks after creating them.

Research Strategy:

  • Polish clickable prototype
  • Development of testing protocol
  • Coordinate protocol and recruitment with client

Users found related information such as date, scale, and history valuable. Graphs should be used more to depict this data.

Other insights:

  • Lists must be better defined.
  • Graphs are critical for users to understand their tasks.
  • Global filters were largely unnoticed.
  • More detail desired in tables and graphs.
Reflection + Future Directions

The client wanted guidance for how to proceed with future designs. Our prototypes comprised of changes similar to their current paradigm. However, at the direction of the client, we also explored more ambitious designs. These involved a new interaction scheme that was closer to pro-level software like that made by Adobe.