Usability evaluation of a prototype design tool for uncertainty propagation and sensitivity analysis

C. Struck, J.L.M. Hensen, W. Plokker

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Software developments in the domain of building performance simulation (BPS) targeting the early design stages of a building need to address two points successfully to be adopted in design practice: (1) facilitating communication between multiple engineering disciplines and (2) the limited amount of design information. The authors consider the limited amount of design information available not as a limit but as a design uncertainty. To focus the designer’s attention the approach chosen here is to extend the capabilities of existing simulation tools with uncertainty and sensitivity analysis. The development of software goes as any product development through stages as design, synthesis and analysis and involves numerous design iterations. The analysis of the prototypical tool extension includes verification und usability evaluation. Whilst the verification of prototypical design tools is necessary to ensure the added analysis functionality is implemented correctly the usability evaluation is to ensure the proposed feature meets the demand of the potential user group. A heuristic usability evaluation was conducted with six expert practitioners using a paper prototype. The quantitative feedback to heuristics as design guidance, process integration, and application confirmed the potential of the tool extension to support design practice. The usability evaluation indicated that expert practitioners would encourage the use of uncertainty propagation and sensitivity analysis if tool extensions to BPS-tools were available. The experts assess uncertainty propagation and sensitivity analysis to add value by reducing the risk of technical design decisions and limiting the extent of design iterations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 3rd German/Austria IBPSA Conference, 22-24 Sept. 2010 Technical University of Wien
Place of PublicationWien
PublisherTU Wien
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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