Evaluating graphical user interfaces for buildings

Esa Halmetoja*, Francisco Forns-Samso

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose The purpose of this paper is to evaluate six different graphical user interfaces (GUIs) for facilities operations using human-machine interaction (HMI) theories. Design/methodology/approach The authors used a combined multi-functional method that includes a review of the theories behind HMI for GUIs as its first approach. Consequently, heuristic evaluations were conducted to identify usability problems in a professional context. Ultimately, thematic interviews were conducted with property managers and service staff to determine special needs for the interaction of humans and the built environment. Findings The heuristic evaluation revealed that not all the studied applications were complete when the study was done. The significant non-motivational factor was slowness, and a lighter application means the GUI is more comfortable and faster to use. The evaluators recommended not using actions that deviate from regular practice. Proper implementation of the GUI would make it easier and quicker to work on property maintenance and management. The thematic interviews concluded that the GUIs form an excellent solution that enables communication between the occupant, owner and service provider. Indoor conditions monitoring was seen as the most compelling use case for GUIs. Two-dimensional (2D) layouts are more demonstrative and faster than three-dimensional (3D) layouts for monitoring purposes. Originality/value Earlier investigations have primarily concentrated on investigating human-computer interaction. The authors' studied human-building interaction instead. The notable difference to previous efforts is that the authors considered the GUI as a medium with which to communicate with the built environment, and looked at its benefits for top-level processes, not for the user interface itself.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-70
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Corporate Real Estate
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jan 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Facility management
  • Graphical user interfaces
  • Human–machine interaction
  • Property management
  • Usability evaluation


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