Many people aren't aware of how much energy they can save. "GreenRenter" provides an energy calculator for users to estimate and visualise their energy consumption. From there, they can make smarter decisions for potential savings, and better practices of sustainable living.
UX DESIGNER —
In a 2-day hackathon, I took part in overseeing and designing a web energy calculator. This included the UX design development stages - ideation, user journeys, and producing all the deliverables for release. The team included 3 other UX designers and 6 developers.
A Big Vision With A Lack Of Direction
The clients had a vision to increase the standards for sustainable living. They had a rental website 'GreenRenter' for finding more sustainable homes, but it was receiving no traction.
From there, they came to us during the Random Hacks Of Kindness. They wanted to modify their website into an energy calculator to estimate the energy consumption of rental properties, and estimate the user's potential savings. However, the idea was too broad and had many major uncertainties:
• There was no access to data that could check the energy rating for any specific property.
• There was too broad of a list of variables that could determine a property's energy efficiency.
• WHY choose this idea?
Defining The Vision
Raise Motivation & Awareness
Even with a big vision, small steps are still required. We decided to backtrack to the user research that the clients conducted prior to the hackathon. They provided us with personas they produced from their interviews and surveys, and we were able to get a grasp on the mindset of the users.
KEY FINDINGS —
• People wanted to live sustainably but were uncertain as to how.
• Sustainability was not a key motivator when people were searching for rental properties. The motivations were cost and location.
It was clear that the main problem to be addressed was - a lack of awareness for sustainable living. From there, we re-defined the project objectives:
How might we raise awareness and motivation for people to live more sustainably?
With this goal in mind, we brainstormed and filtered based on effectiveness and feasibility to compile into a solution - an energy calculator.
ENERGY DATA COLLECTION —
The client's original plan for the energy data collection was to obtain it through landlords. However, there was no way to reliably access this information. I offered a different solution - to obtain the data from the users. If we were targeting the average home owner, why not use layman's terms instead of technical energy data? At the same time, GreenRenter would be able to collect data for it's future development as a rental website, while creating a more simple system that would raise user engagement and their understanding of the issue.
An Energy Calculator
A tool to engage and raise awareness for sustainability by visualising the user's energy consumption.
Raise user engagement
Simplifying the "calculator" as more of a simple questionnaire on the energy star ratings of household appliances.
Raise awareness for
A breakdown of the user's energy usage. Rather than give suggestions, we decided on using objective data to draw their attention to what they could potentially reduce. (Users would feel more entitled to changing behaviours if they made the decision to do it themselves.)
Increase motivation to
A calculation showing how much the user could save on their energy bills - from the user research, cost was a main motivator.
CHOOSING THE CALCULATOR'S VARIABLES —
To maximise the simplicity, we decided to refer to the national Energy Rating website (www.energyrating.gov.au/calculator) to choose the calculator's variables.
(featured on website)
6 MAIN APPLIANCES
ENERGY STAR RATINGS
(most easily accessible info)
The developers highlighted that they were able to use a spreadsheet from the website to generate an average calculation of the user's energy expenditure and create comparisons from there.
COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS —
I looked at existing website "tests" to find how they kept their users engaged.
used simple, direct approach and design.
I delegated the screens between the design team to refine into hi-fidelity. I regularly gave updates and checked in with the developers on the design to make sure we were all on the same page.
DESIGN DECISIONS —
Increase & Retain Engagement
Simplified the calculator 'test' to three
steps, and uses a clean aesthetic.
Minimise User Error
If users were unable to find their energy rating, they could find it by navigating to energyrating.com.au/calculator where they input the appliance's model number instead.
The second "Household" step is mainly for 'GreenRenter' to collect and organise the energy data they need to help with their future development.
By giving users a visualisation of their energy consumption, they are able to make their own decisions in sustainable practices.
A Successful Re-Routing
Leading the re-routing of the project was a valuable and enjoyable experience. It proved very challenging in the beginning - with many uncertainties, and having to narrow down and re-define such a broad vision.
We were able to continually refer back to the user's needs, to create an effective solution that both benefitted both the user and the business. Despite the limited time and resources, thanks to the diligent time management, the team's clear communication and regular catchups between the design and development team, we were able to get a rough prototype of the GreenRenter website running. It was great working with such a co-operative and talented team, and being able to give GreenRenter a clear future direction.
The GreenRenter team