Phoenix Design has created a new interface design for Viessmann. The innovative user surfaces provide both professional and inexperienced users with a way to work the technology in a safe and uncomplicated way. (210)
Viessmann: Smart, Safe and Uncomplicated
Smart, Safe and Uncomplicated. Phoenix Design creates a completely new design for operating heating units. The result is smart, safe and uncomplicated – a whole new experience. Users have less and less contact with the product itself because operation
and control take place digitally – even via smartphone and tablet apps. Now Phoenix Design have created a new interface design for Viessmann. The innovative user surfaces provide both professional and inexperienced users with a way to work the technology in a safe and uncomplicated way.
Operation – easier than ever before. Design determines how we deal with things – but in these times of digitisation, users have less and less contact with the product itself. Even heating systems, those formerly prominent mighty boilers, are perceived to be reduced to a mere operating display. Now Phoenix Design have created consistent user surfaces for the entire range of Viessmann products – from industrial facilities all the way to heating systems in privates homes. The result: the so-called user experience design. It allows both professional experts and inexperienced users to operate the devices more easily than ever before – even via smartphone and tablet apps. The innovative heating control is capable of addressing two types of target audience: comfort-oriented as well as technology-minded users or heating systems installers who need a deeper level of interaction. So there are two operational levels characterized by different degrees of complexity; but both of them feature iconographic, self-explanatory and internationally understandable pictures, such as a striking green checkmark signalling at first glance that device and operation are all running smoothly.
Design follows operational logic. At the outset, designing the operating surfaces was preceded by analysing the facility functionalities, the user groups and the operating processes. As a next step, the designers developed the logical interface structure with its several levels. By means of various usability tests, the concept was tested under real-life conditions and improved accordingly. Only then the operating procedure and the graphical display surface layout were conceived. “It’s important for most users to have the display show a visually attractive image of the facility”, explains Claudia Tietge, Design Team Manager responsible for user experience topics. The corporate design colour orange had to be taken into account as well: it was incorporated into the upper part of the display as a slim line in order to separate the status bar from the middle part of the operating panel.
Consistent look and feel. The term “consistency” is a decisive parameter for the new operating surface concept. It refers to the operational logic as well as to the graphical design. Heating systems installers dealing with different Viessmann devices are to be able to transfer the operating logic from one device to the next, regardless of whether they are dealing with a gas boiler or a combined heat and power plant. Technology-minded users are happy to be able to operate their device via an app – finding the same image on their smartphone as on the display directly mounted on the device. A case in point: the “Vitoligno 200S”, also designed by Phoenix Design – it’s a wood gasification boiler that is archaically fed by hand with logs of wood, while being operated via touch screen. Its operation can be controlled in three different ways: via a display mounted at the boiler, or via a control unit in the living quarters. “The look and feel is part of the corporate design, and it is identical across the entire product portfolio”, explains interface specialist Claudia Tietge. This may sound self-evident, but it isn’t. A 10" display is able to present information in a different way than a smartphone, and a user interface cannot be scaled down just like that – rather, it calls for structural adjustments whenever sizes vary greatly. The layout needs to be adjusted in terms of the amount of data, the operating depth and the size of the respective elements. All Viessmann operating panels feature white lettering on a black background – a choice of colours “intended to express intelligence and seriousness.”
Simplicity is the key: “Anything that’s hard to get at will not be used.” At the same time as the industrial panels, Phoenix Design designed a home automation system for Viessmann that can be controlled via an app when the user is on the go. The “Vitokomfort” can control home functions like lighting, ventilation, safety, wireless sockets and of course room temperature, all via the Internet. “Thanks to this development, Viessmann is the first heating system manufacturer to take the step towards home automation”, says Claudia Tietge. For users, the app represents a further simplification and augmentation of operating comfort. The designer is convinced: only a compelling user experience will open up the benefits of the technological innovation to users. Functions that may make sense but are hard to get at will simply not be used: “Simplicity is the key, and that’s not only an end customer benefit: professionals as well are increasingly appreciative of self-explanatory and iconographic interfaces.” (5244)