The general usability and UX design principles can be utilised broadly for all kinds of devices and human-technology interactions. However, in the context of BIMprove, the mobile devices and solution usage on the move play an important role. For example, map and navigation tools, warning/information messages and augmented reality solutions are primarily aimed at mobile and portable devices, such as smart phones, tablets, and even smart watches, to be used in specific and changing locations at the specific time.  There are some specific usability and UX matters to be considered when designing such solutions.

Generally, in mobile applications, the design requires special attention due to limitations of mobile devices (e.g., screen size) and the context-awareness afforded by the embedded sensors (Dirin & Laine, 2018). The solutions are expected to provide context-relevant information at the right moment, and to support situational awareness. The availability of internet connection is usually crucial in the use of the mobile solutions and may not be self-evident. Physical ergonomics and comfortable use need to be considered as well, especially related to the larger portable devices (tablets) and wearable devices (AR glasses etc.).

According to Dirin & Laine (2018), especially in AR solutions, users are engaged both mentally and physically in the application. The mental engagement in this context means that users fully concentrate on the application, and short- and long-term memory are engaged in the application. Physical engagement means that users often need both hands, eyes, ears and even the rest of their bodies to be involved with the application.

Olsson (2013) describes six categories for design and evaluation of mobile augmented reality (MAR) solutions. These categories would emphasise the UX aspect, but also include some of the more pragmatic (usability) viewpoints in the user’s experience:

  • instrumental experiences (e.g., efficiency, meaningfulness): The feeling of being able to perform tasks and activities with less effort, time and other resources; the solution appearing personally meaningful, appropriate and relevant in the user’s current context and activity.
  • cognitive and epistemic experiences (awareness, intuitiveness): Awareness can be manifested as becoming aware of, realizing something about or gaining a new viewpoint to one’s immediate surroundings (e.g., locations and objects). Intuitiveness relates to the feeling of naturalness and human-likeness in interacting with the AR information.
  • emotional experiences (e.g., surprise, playfulness): Being able to receive contextually relevant, extraordinary, and useful information (e.g., being positively astonished of the content); supporting feelings of joy, amusement and playfulness (this is more relevant in leisure time activities than in work context but can be applied in certain ways.)
  • sensory experiences (e.g., captivation, tangibility): The feeling of being immersed and engaged in the interaction with the environment enriched with AR content; the augmented content seems a tangible and integral part of the environment.
  • motivational experiences (e.g., inspiration, creativity): Feelings of being cognitively stimulated, curious and eager to try new things.
  • social experiences (collectivity, privacy): Feelings of participating in a user community, having novel ways for social interaction and communication; privacy issues.

Dubois et al (2013) have similar elements in their list of usability aspects, but it includes some additional relevant aspects for BIMprove solutions:

  • Interaction forms: Evaluation focus on interaction devices, display format (e.g., perspective view) or interaction languages (e.g., gesture)
  • Environment: Evaluation focus on work environment, such as luminosity, noise, dirtiness etc.
  • Influence of technology on social interaction: Technology can facilitate communication, but it can also disrupt interaction because of cumbersome equipment.

These experience descriptions and elements can serve for solution developers as inspiration and targets for design, as well as a theoretical baseline against which to compare and assess design solutions and developed prototypes.

Usability and user experience have specific qualities when applied to specific contexts, such as VR. As stated above (citing Dirin & Laine (2018)), users are especially mentally and physically engaged in AR solutions. This is probably even more true for VR. Similarly, Olsson’s six categories (Olsson 2013) are just as relevant to VR. Especially the feeling of being immersed (point 4 in the section above), and, in the case of multi-user-VR, social experiences (point 6 in the section above) are to be highlighted.

Tcha-Tokey et al. 2018 have proposed a model  for UX in Immersive Virtual Environments in which it is decomposed into the sense of presence, flow, and experience consequence, which all influence each other. Tcha-Tokey et al. 2016 propose a questionnaire to measure UX in an Immersive Virtual Environment using this model.

Wienrich et al. (2018) have compared different measurements for UX in VR. The two major factors that are special about VR when measuring UX seem to be a) the concept of a sense of presence – the feeling of “being there” and b) the overall well-being of users during their use of VR, as discomfort and simulator sickness play a role.

Considerations of usability and UX in mobile, AR and VR applications are relevant, because user interfaces to be designed in BIMprove will also include a VR option.

Do you want to know more? Download our related D1.3 deliverable from here and share your opinion with us through our LinkedIn or our Twitter communities!


  • Dirin, A. & Laine, T. (2018). User Experience in Mobile Augmented Reality: Emotions, Challenges, Opportunities and Best Practices. Computers. 7. 10.3390/computers7020033.
  • Dubois, E., Scapin, D.L., Charfi, S. & Bortolaso, C. (2013). Usability recommendations for mixed interactive systems: Extraction and integration in a design process. In Human Factors in Augmented Reality Environments, eds W. Huang, L. Alem, and M. A. Livingston (New York, NY: Springer), 181-199.
  • Systems in Smart Business Buildings. In International Conference on Intelligent Human Systems Integration (pp. 440-446). Springer, Cham.
  • Olsson, T. (2013). “Concepts and subjective measures for evaluating user experience of mobile augmented reality services.” In Human Factors in Augmented Reality Environments, eds W. Huang, L. Alem, and M. A. Livingston (New York, NY: Springer), 203–232.
  • Tcha-Tokey, K., Christmann, O., Loup-Escande, E., Loup, G., Richir, S. (2016). A questionnaire to measure the user experience in immersive virtual environments. In Proceedings of the 2016 Virtual Reality International Conference (VRIC ’16). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, Article 19, 1–5. DOI:
  • Tcha-Tokey, K., Christmann, O., Loup-Escande, E., Loup, G., Richir, S. (2018). “Towards a Model of User Experience in Immersive Virtual Environments”, Advances in Human-Computer Interaction, vol. 2018, Article ID 7827286, 10 pages, 2018.
  • Wienrich C., Döllinger N., Kock S., Schindler K., Traupe O. (2018) Assessing User Experience in Virtual Reality – A Comparison of Different Measurements. In: Marcus A., Wang W. (eds) Design, User Experience, and Usability: Theory and Practice. DUXU 2018. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 10918. Springer, Cham.