School staff

Dr Val Mitchell

Photo of Dr Val Mitchell

Senior Lecturer

Val graduated from Loughborough University with a degree in Ergonomics After working as an ergonomist in a design consultancy in Sweden and in the health service, Val joined Loughborough University as a researcher.  She has managed and worked on many research and consultancy projects particularly relating to the design of ICT and mobile communication product and services.  Her PhD entitled: "Methods for Exploring User Needs for Future Mobile Products and Services" was conducted in collaboration with a major UK manufacturer of mobile communication technologies.

Val has over 20 years multidisciplinary research experience specialising in the development of User Centred Design (UCD) and User Experience Design (UX) methodologies for eliciting user requirements for future technologies and services, in particular understanding user needs and requirements for mobile communication products and services.

She is particularly interested in the communication of user needs and requirements to designers using scenarios and personas and the design of creative Participatory Design and Co-design methods for eliciting needs from users. She was a member of an Advisory Board member for the AHRC funded Service Design Research UK network   and has been an organiser of the Loughborough Global Service Jam for the last three years.

She was  Co- I on the recently completed  EPSRC funded LEEDR project which  explored from an interdisciplinary perspective how energy and media fit into domestic life and identified opportunities to reduce domestic energy demand through innovative use of digital media. See

She is Co-I on the EPSRC funded REFIT project which is studying smart homes and energy demand reduction.

She is also Co-I on the recently EPSRC funded HOTHOUSE project which is building on findings from the LEEDR project to explore hot water use in future homes from an interdisciplinary perspective

She was previously  a senior researcher on the EPSRC/E.On funded CALEBRE project which  investigated user behaviours and comfort relating to the implementation of energy saving technologies within the home. She was  also a Senior Researcher on the EPSRC/DoT/TSB funded User Innovation project which investigated how user driven innovation can be used to inform the design of sustainable transport and travel product and services.

Programme Director for the User Experience Design Programme MA

Module leader for:

  • DSB022 and DSC022 User Experience Design
  • DSB119 User Experience Design (Ergonomics)
  • DSP831 Experience Design
  • DSP866 User Experience Design Major Project

Principal research activities and interests

HOTHOUSE  (2014 –2016)

HOTHOUSE: ‘Hot water provision in homes; consumption, storage and lifestyle’ is a 2-year research project that investigates the future stresses around domestic hot water consumption in the home.

The project builds on the data and research methods developed on the LEEDR project and combines user centered design methods with ethnographic and numerical modelling and simulation techniques in order to situate family homes, their heating and hot water systems and domestic routines, in a series of future scenarios that will be developed in conjunction with Forum for the Future. Val’s research within HOTHOUSE is exploring user needs for hot water within future domestic scenarios as well as exploring interdisciplinary ways of working.


REFIT (2013- 2015)

REFIT is a interdisciplinary research project with the long-term aim of creating a step-change in uptake rates of retrofit technology measures in UK homes. The project brings together a diverse research team with internationally renowned expertise in buildings, energy, ICT, people and design. REFIT is studying the Smart Home concept and its ability to provide personalised, valued, tailored and trustworthy information on building retrofit, energy efficiency and on-site renewable technology options for UK homes. Val’s research within REFIT focussed on the use of service design tools and methods to identify future value propositions for smart homes.


LEEDR (2010 – 2014)

LEEDR was a 4-year research project that sought  to situate and understand domestic energy consumption within the context of families’ everyday lives and routines. The project employs a combination of energy monitoring, video ethnographies and workshop techniques to explore opportunities for energy demand reduction through digital innovation and assess the possible impact a changing energy landscape might have on family life. Val led the futures work package within LEEDR and developed interdisciplinary tools and methods with colleagues as well as digital product concepts.


FITS 'Ideas in Transit' (2007-2012)

This 5-year project was one of 3 funded by the UK government initiative "Future Intelligent Transport Systems" which aimed to address "the challenge of delivering better passenger and freight transport services while at the same time reducing negative environmental impacts especially the carbon footprint."

It was joint funded by EPSRC, the Department for Transport and the Technology Strategy Board. Partners are the University of the West of England, Ordnance Survey and Ito. The aim was to understand non-conventional (and particularly user-generated, bottom-up) sources of innovation which can improve the transport system in the UK. Val's research interest focused on the development of user centred design methods to capture user needs.

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CALEBRE (2008 - 2012)

CALEBRE, developed technologies to improve the energy efficiency of solid-walled housing, particularly in the owner occupied market. Val's research interest within CALEBRE focused upon the development of User Centred Design tools and methods to capture the requirements of householders and for communicating these requirements to other project stakeholders.

  • Pink S, Leder Mackley K, Mitchell V, Hanratty M, Escobar-Tello C, Bhamra T, Morosanu R, Applying the Lens of Sensory Ethnography to Sustainable HCI, Journal ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, Volume 20, Issue 4, Pp. 1-22, Publication date 18 Sep 2013, DOI 10.1145/2494261, Article number 25

  • Parker C, May A, Mitchell VA, Burrows A, Capturing Volunteered Information for Inclusive Service Design: Potential Benefits and Challenges, Journal The Design Journal, Volume 16, Issue 2, Pp. 197-218, Publication date 2013, DOI 10.2752/175630613X13584367984947

  • Mercer K, May A, Mitchell VA, Designing for video: Investigating the contextual cues within viewing situations, Editors Zoric G, Engström A, Reponen E, Juhlin O, Journal Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, Volume Special Issue on Video Interaction, Pp. 1-21, Publication date 2013, DOI 10.1007/s00779-013-0702-y, ISSN 1617-4909

  • Haines, V., & Mitchell, V. (2014). A persona-based approach to domestic energy retrofit. Building Research & Information42(4), 462-476.

  • Mitchell, V., Mackley, K. L., Pink, S., Escobar-Tello, C., Wilson, G. T., & Bhamra, T. (2014). Situating digital interventions: mixed methods for HCI research in the home. Interacting with Computers, iwu034.

  • Haines, V., Mitchell, V., & Mallaband, B. (2012). Merging a practice-orientated approach with an engineering-driven product development: a case study on home improvement. Journal of Design Research 1410(1-2), 28-49.