Vaillant
USER-CENTERED DESIGN APPROACH TO DEVELOPING A NEW DESIGN LANGUAGE

When design combines the needs of users and business stakeholders alike.

A user-centered approach to developing a new design language for Vaillant

HOW CAN THE OFTEN CONTRADICTORY GOALS AND NEEDS OF DIFFERENT STAKEHOLDERS BE ANTICIPATED AND UNDERSTOOD? HOW CAN THESE BEST BE FULFILLED IN ONE PRODUCT FAMILY? TOGETHER WITH VAILLANT, IN AN EXTENSIVE INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH AND DESIGN PROCESS, WE ACHIEVED THIS.

As a leading HVAC (Heating, ventilation, air conditioning) producer, the Vaillant Group covers a range of top brands all over Europe and in China. This has resulted in an extremely complex portfolio covering a range of product categories. In order to better manage this wide-reaching, highly recognisable brand family and make use of the economy of scale, a more systematic, global product design approach needed to be developed. This is where we joined the internal design team. Within the framework of a comprehensive research and design project, we set up and conducted various interviews, defined a set of design requirements based on our research findings and transferred these into eight new design solutions, covering the main HVAC product categories.

“Together with Noto, we developed a compelling design language for the brands within the Vaillant Group. The result is a brand-specific vision for all product categories. In addition, we managed to improve acceptance amongst our customers while simultaneously optimising production costs. This shows that design can be more than just an aesthetic solution”.

Dr. Andree Groos, Managing Director of the Vaillant Group

RECOGNISING AND UNDERSTANDING DIFFERENT USER NEEDS

The first step of the research process involved recognising and defining market needs in terms of product usability and visual appearance. Understanding the needs and goals of users and installers, as well as the Vaillant-internal interests was an extremely important aspect of this process as these are remarkably wide-ranging and often contradict each other. Users tend to focus on how products fit into their lives and how easy they are to use. Installers need devices which are quick and easy to install and within the Vaillant Group, it was essential that the manufacturing costs be reduced.

MOVING FROM USER RESEARCH TO DESIGN REQUIREMENTS

Our qualitative research process involved a series of workshops, interviews and shadowing of about 70 internal and external stakeholders in four countries, seeing how they think, live, work and how HVAC products fit into their lives. In addition to this, a number of studies to this effect had been commissioned or prepared internally at the Vaillant Group. We were able to use these to validate our qualitative research findings with previous quantitative results. Our research results were impressive: 1700 key findings which could be translated into 23 concrete design requirements. These form the backbone of the new Vaillant product design system.

“The people at Noto were always able to anticipate the very different needs of installers, users and internal stakeholders to a great benefit for the collaboration with the Vaillant Design Team. Even more impressively, they successfully translated the strategy into a clear design guideline and brought this to life in a range of products”.

Tim Richter, Head of Design, Vaillant Group

CREATING A COHESIVE DESIGN LANGUAGE

The fulfilment of these 23 extremely diverse design requirements was the defining vision behind our systematic design solutions. Focusing on two of the brands within the group, Vaillant and Saunier Duval, we started the design process by developing clear, strong signature elements which express the values behind each brand. The aim of this exercise was the clear separation of these two brands within the group, using brand-specific elements where required and a cost-saving systems approach to components where the brands don’t need to be differentiated. Once the signature brand elements had been defined, we created and evaluated a series of solutions for each of the design requirements. These were also checked for their compatibility with other requirements as each solution needed to support the design as a whole. Although creating solutions which had to support and comply with other requirements was the most difficult part of this project, this approach resulted in a remarkably strong network of detailed design solutions which form a cohesive product portfolio.

A user-centered approach to developing a new design language for Vaillant

A user-centered approach to developing a new design language for Vaillant

IMPROVING ACCEPTANCE AND REDUCING COMPLEXITY

Our final comprehensive design solution was validated by an independent institute in a test with the older Vaillant Group product design approach and some main competitors. Our solution obtained a higher degree of acceptance amongst users and installers than all of the competitors in the test. Furthermore, we have managed to unify the product portfolios of both brands and make them recognisably and unambiguously Vaillant or Saunier Duval products. This was achieved whilst reducing the complexity of the products and maximising the proportion of parts used over different brands and product categories.

A user-centered approach to developing a new design language for Vaillant

FURTHER READINGS:

Have a look at our partnership with the Vaillant Group.

Read more about the product release on the ISH 2017.