Company: Autodesk is the industry leader in 3D design and rendering tools.
Solution: Homestyler supports “do-it-yourself” home improvements with a simplified CAD experience through a browser.
Timeline: Oct 2007 - Mar 2008
Autodesk is the industry leader in computer-aided design (CAD) and 3D rendering software. Homestyler seeks to apply the company’s extensive experience and knowledge toward a consumer application on a software as a service (SaaS) platform. In short, Homestyler seeks to put the power of professional tools into the hands of homeowners with DIY projects
Homeowners with “do it yourself” (DIY) building efforts don’t have effective tools available. Simple tools with professional-grade features could bring substantial value to the millions of DIY projects completed every year.
- Heuristic analysis
- SSNiF identification. This process was developed by Philip Haine to help focus designs by forcing every feature to be explained with a stakeholder and situation that informs the need (Stakeholder, Situation, Need, Feature). Ultimately, the needs become the primary focus of the design.
- Persona definition / customer interviews
- Low-fidelity mockups
- Critical path user stories
Example Problem: Information overload
Information overload was one of the problems identified during heuristic analysis of existing consumer products. Due to the complex nature of designing a room (especially kitchens and bathrooms), CAD and BIM (building information model) must pack large numbers of features. Lazy interface designs simply create large toolbars, which negatively impacts the overall experience by dramatically increasing the learning curve and cognitive friction.
Example Solution: Expose information in context and progressively to avoid overload
To avoid this toolbar overload, Brent Pennock and I designed a solution that brings pertinent information to the user as needed. Hovering over an object will give basic dimensions. Selecting an object reveals a little more information and offers several options. Drilling deeper into the object offers options, more information and even purchase options.
The final 3D rendering is near photo-realistic, and near real-time. Quite a technical feat for a browser based application in 2008.
- Browser-based solution for easy access
- Simple interface powerful back-end tools (e.g., real-time 3D rendering)
- Potential for new revenue streams and solutions with partners in home-improvement sector
Homestyler is free and available at Homestyler. The product has improved over the last few years; however, it has not deviated much from the original designs from this project. This project illustrates the need for progressive introduction to features and information to keep designs clean and understandable. Solid information architecture was a critical foundation to the success of this product.
Homestyler has been live since 2008/2009, when it was announced with a public beta (called Dragonfly at the time).