Combining over 12 separate legacy products into a single, unified simulation modeling platform.


Over the past 30 years, Invensys has been the go-to platform for chemical simulation and modeling. The company currently creates 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.

In 2014, Invensys was acquired by Schneider Electric.



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 utilized 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 insight and wisdom we needed.


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

Validate & Refine

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


Through multiple iterations, we finalized a UI framework that struck the best balance between supporting novice users and experienced professionals.

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.

For example, 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 “Dashboard,” a homepage-esque landing screen that exposes the full functionality of the product. 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. The dashboard was redesigned to reveal NextGen capabilities to all user personas, provide a task-centric dashboard, and focus on continuous process simulation workflows.

Mobile App Concepts

A major goal of the Invensys project was to explore truly “next 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-screen interfaces, 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.


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