Autodesk—Destination AEC

Here's one of my first projects at Autodesk! It was a ton of fun and you can check out the finished product here.

Product interactivity diagram.

Background and goals

AEC is the biggest industry for Autodesk; it’s our bread and butter. We have dozens of products serving this industry, but no central place to educate a customer on which software suite is best for them. When it comes to how our products might interact within a given workflow it’s hard to see the forest for the trees; the overlap between sub-industries, project type, and people’s roles alone account for over 3,000 variations. You don't understand the full value if you just target someone in the just one industry. This site is to be that central “catch-all” destination for anyone in the AEC industry that wants to get information about how we think they can leverage our tools, discover new ways of working, and even become inspired!

A big part of our AEC story is Building Information Modeling (BIM) technology. BIM is the next CAD software that is paving the way for more efficient design and buildings. Our current BIM Center needs a little love but is still pulling in a remarkable 40k visitors a month. This is our starting point to cast a large net and direct those visitors to something more useful than the current dead-end.

Our goals are to:

  1. Increase the number of visitors & get them to return

  2. Profile the visitors interacting with this site

  3. Direct them towards content most relevant to them

  4. Establish Autodesk as an authority in BIM software

Initial design

The first wireframes were created with direction from our content strategists and marketing leads. Taking into account all 14 industry stakeholders, we made a series of design choices on page hierarchy and created a concept call the “Newsfeed” to attract a majority of keyword searches & allow for cross-discipline connections to be made. Taking into account all our resources we broke the project into two phases.

Phase:

  1. Overview page, Why BIM page, and How to page.

  2. Industry Pages and the Newsfeed.

User testing

We created a prototype and tested it out at our Autodesk conference. We were testing out the concept—is it compelling? Is dropping someone into an environment vs. somewhere more specific better or worse? How does it impact them? The findings were interesting.

“I'm past the point of buying BIM, but I'd be sending non-BIM users to this page (it's perfect for those who ask why we use BIM)."

We found depending on what age group you were in you found different values. There's a stark difference between people over 40 years old, vs. under 40. The under 40 didn't need education, but we have some renowned use cases that gave us extra credibility. The site gave them validation, not necessarily new information. That's okay because what we learned was that it can provide value to users that aren't the purchasers. They are still less likely to churn—this is a secondary goal to us and it's important to know about it and not harm it while achieving our primary goal. Our primary is for the purchasing manager to be convinced and try it. It's easy to explain how it helps just their team, but less for the overall company. We still have some work on polishing up how we explain the overall picture. Overall, it went well and we learned a lot.

Product interactivity diagram.

Refinement

Based on the user research, we made these changes:

Overview page

  1. Highlight website purpose up-front. Users need to work too hard to understand its purpose.

  2. Give users ability to choose their specific industry higher on the Overview page. Most didn’t make it deeper into their industry without prompting.

Product interactivity diagram.

Industry page

  1. Remove banner images and replace with Vignette Isometrics. There’s a visual disconnect between the Overview page.

  2. Remove animated gif scenes; while either removing key points or rewriting to be more relevant for our customers. i.e. “Increases productivity” is too abstract and should be removed. Many users found this section to be sophomoric.

  3. Move sub-industry navigation higher on pages so it’s more apparent.

  4. Rename “Resources”. Current section represents stories or case studies.

  5. Rename “Newsfeed”. Feed makes users think of an RSS feed, or social feed like twitter. It is more of a repository or hub.

Product interactivity diagram.

Presentation

Feel free to view here or download the design evolution presentation:

Thank you for reading! If you want to read more, follow me on twitter or read my blog post Architecture to UX.

Gavin Johns

Gavin Johns@gavinpjohns
Architect turned UX Designer