NEW 4.0 App
About this project
Renewable energy, like solar energy or the energy that can be generated from wind, play a big role in our collective efforts towards a more sustainable way of living. But we are still facing some problems when it comes to making use of this kind of energy. One of which being the mismatch between it's availability and our usage. To make this more tangible, let me give you the context of this project: In Schleswig-Holstein Germany, where the client is located, there are times where there is an excess of energy from wind. So there is more energy available then what is being consumed at that time. In order to guarantee stable voltage, windmills sometimes even need to be shut off temporarily. Of course there are different possible direction from where to attack this problem. The direction we took in this project though was to make sure that people are able and willing to reorganize their energy consumption according to renewable energy excesses.
Our hypotheses on how to make users redirect their energy usage
So the question that was guiding our efforts in this project was clear: How can we get the users to redirect their times of consumption according to the availability of renewable energy?
We had a couple of assumptions regarding the answer to this question:
- There are (enough) types of energy consumption in a private household that are not spontanious or linked to a specific time and therefor CAN be (re)scheduled (like the use of a washing machine or charging devices like a vacuum cleaner)
- Users are willing to change their habits and redirect these types of energy consumption in order to either save money (due to lower energy prices during times of renewable energy excess) and/or because they want to live more sustainably.
- The users need to be given a visualization of the energy costs over time in order to behave accordingly.
- Feedback on the effects the behavior change has (e.g. the savings) will motivate the users.
- The option to automate their usage in sync with the renewable energy peeks will increase the probability of behavior change.
Building the product based on our assumptions
In this project we decided to directly go into the creation phase and design a first version of the product based on our assumptions, instead of first doing further research. Since the assumptions were based on years of experience and a lot of collected knowledge regarding the target audience, their needs and behavior, we did not act from a place of high uncertainty. And because the goal was to only invest a small amount of recources for the first version and to get closed feedback on it to learn from, the risk also wasn't that high.
So we quickly moved from simple notes and sketches I took visualizing the content and structure of the app to high-fidelity screens. This was were my part in the project was over: finishing up with handing over the screens to the internal development team of my client.
A personal note on Life-centered Design
This project is one of my favorites for one simple reason: It is one of the projects were I feel like we took a life-centered approach. In many projects the only outcomes that are being considered are the business and user outcomes. And the ladder only in order to drive the outcomes the business aimes for. All to often missing in this equation are the needs of our environment. Most companies nowadays understand that they can only be successfull when they put user needs front and center. But the close link between business success, user needs AND environmental needs appears not to be as obvious (at least if you ask me). So I love that this project was considering all parties: The business, users AND the environment.