ALUNA: THE GREEN HOME UNITY APP

Welcome to a better home.

 
 

aluna refers to the “Great Mother” by the Kogi people, one of the world’s most sustainable communities.  They understand the Earth to be a living being, and base their culture on preserving Aluna through a simple and sustainable lifestyle. They believe that the modern life of excess and exploitation will leave a detrimental effect on the earth. I find this view to be profound and speak to the impact I want to make with my digital product.

I have always felt a desire to make a positive impact on the environment - in my previous experience, I have been exposed to some of the efforts that businesses and regulations have taken to be more mindful of their environmental impact.  From a consumer's perspective, I feel there is a lot of opportunity to create and change our lifestyle habits for environmental sustainability.

 

 
 
 

 

problem space

One aspect of our lifestyle that can be improved to reduce environmental impact is our home utility consumption.  
Currently, managing one's home utilities can be a frustrating task, due to the following factors:

- Electricity/water/natural gas usage is accessed through different resource providers
- Usage information is not insightful and difficult to understand for most users
- These obstacles provides little motivation for users to improve on usage habits

 

how might we elevate homeowners' understanding of their utilities to encourage a positive environmental impact?
 

 

 

Target Audience

New homeowners
Millennials & Gen-X
Interested in improving their environmental impact at home
Budget conscious

Strategy & Research

- Market (Secondary) Research: What's out there?
- Primary research: Survey & Interviews with target audience

Market Research

A number of utility providers and tech companies have created their own platforms for users to access consumption data

- Online portal accounts to energy providers/utility companies, including online bills and consumption data

- Home monitoring systems/devices, such as smart thermostats, electric monitoring, smart lightbulbs, and smart water meters

 

Interviews

Interviewed 8 new homeowners, between the age of 26-40

Overall comments from target users:
- Do not check consumption often - only when they receive utility bills
- Information communicated on utility bills is not insightful, hard to understand
- Not familiar with conservation methods and green products
- Dollar value is very important in allowing them to compare their month-to-month usage
 

 
I feel like I’m shooting in the dark for most of the month, and by the time I receive information on my usage, it’s the end of the month, and too late - I just have to pay the bill, and move on.
— Jason, New homeowner, Toronto
 

Research Findings

Importance of insightful and centralized data

Cost is not the biggest motivator for utility reduction, it is in fact education

Access to current consumption data is delayed and infrequent

Lack of proper knowledge dissuades users from seeing how they can contribute

 

Personas

 
 

USER EXPERIENCE MAP

Based on the personas that were determined, I mapped out the experience for Hudson and Alice according to the current state of affairs for managing utility usage and bills. As they go through the experience from moving into their home to paying their utility bills, I indicated the actions, thoughts, and feelings Hudson and Alice would encounter.  The opportunities that were noted in the map were also the areas that proved to be the biggest pain points in the experience. 

The above experience map allowed me to identify the key opportunities where my future digital solution could be inserted into this cyclical experience to alleviate the users' frustrations and pain points.


Solution

Digital product (a mobile app) that addressed:

- Education

- Resources and tools

- Community Involvement

information architecture

Mapped out the overall user flow for the app, and concluded with the five following epics.

- User Onboarding

- Education on Usage & Conservation Methods

- Data Visualization of Cost Savings 

- Setting Consumption Goals and Reminders

- Community Challenges and Comparison

 

Overall User Flow

 
 

Main EPIC: Setting Consumption Goals & Alerts

 
 

Wireframes

User Testing - Findings

ONBOARDING :  The amount of information on the 1st iteration that is being communicated is overwhelming and too congested.  Some also found the payment section to be confusing, and wondered whether that was included to pay for the app.  In my 2nd iteration, I opted to separate the onboarding process into two screens, and spaced out the information that needed to be entered.  I also added in progress indicators, and removed the payment section from the onboarding process. 

DASHBOARD : Lots of symbols that were not very intuitive, and distracted users from the task at hand.  The addition of colours for the different resource streams were confusing and distracting.  Some buttons were too small to click on.  In the 2nd iteration, I took out symbols that were not necessary in completing the task. I also enlarged symbols for easier click access.

CONSUMPTION GOALS : Generally simple and concise; however copy for some of the headings were not clear, as I may have used terms that were too technical and not intuitive to the average user.  Some information, such as the start and end date for the reminder was redundant, and was eliminated for the 2nd iteration. 

 

Pivot

Although feedback from user testing allowed me to streamlined task,
users did not feel like this would motivate behavioural change.

Allowing users to set consumption goals and reminders was not
addressing the biggest pain point in my problem.

New EPIC: Education on Usage & Conservation Methods

 
 

Hi-Fidelity WireFrames

 
 

User Testing - Findings

COPY: The copy was at times confusing for users, not intuitive enough for users to weave through the experience seamlessly.  Needed to work on clarifying terms and technical terms in order for users to fully understand - this is crucial as the main task is for users to comprehensively understand the data they are looking at.

VISUAL GRAPHS: Users found graph to be a good visual, but more detail/context would be helpful in understanding what they are looking at; suggestions included adding numerical labeling, somehow making the information more interactive would be more insightful as well.

WEEKLY ENVIRONMENTAL TIPS: Environmental tips were well-received, but many commented on the need for the tips to be saved and/or favourited so that users can access them at a later time.  In addition, many needed assurance that the conservation tips are specific to their usage; generic looking tips were not appealing and did not feel personal.

VISUAL HIERARCHY: Use of certain font styles for titles, text, and numbers needed more consistency, and usage of white space on given screens needed to be utilized more effectively to ensure content is not too tight.

Hi-Fidelity Mock Up

UI LIBRARY

 

Aluna Marketing Website

 
 

The aluna marketing website was designed as the first point of contact for users to get informed and download the app.  The responsive website provides the key features of the app, showcase the success stories thus far.  The aluna app and website both convey a simple and clean aesthetic in order to effectively "complicated" data through a fresh, relatable means for is target audience, new homeowners. 

Take-Aways

- Designing with empathy

- Pivots and reassessments are OK

- Research never stops

Software Used: Sketch, Photoshop, Invision