UX design case study

Ripple is a mobile app concept that actively engages the average household consumer to track their water usage and learn ways to reduce consumption.

Class Project at General Assembly, 2017



Team & Duration: Ally Tom, Eric Chow, Gabrielle Greenblatt, Helen Han / 2 weeks

My Role: UX/UI Designer, Researcher and Project Manager


How might we motivate the average household to reduce their water usage?

Facing limited water resource and an ever growing population, Seattle Public Utilities has announced voluntary restrictions on water usage. However, residential water usage has not reduced as much as expected.



1. Identifying user pain point: understanding their current water usage

Based on our initial research and discussion, we created an assumption to guide our research and design process:  before finding ways to use less water, consumers need to understand first their current usage level.

Our user research and heuristic review of the current water monitoring communication methods addressed that many consumers struggle to understand their water usage. The water bill and meter are passive and do not lay out information in a user-friendly format. Unless you have the knowledge and desire to read your water meter regularly, you have to wait for your water bill to arrive after every two months to know your water consumption level. Even then, it's not easy to read the bill.


2. Targeting the reactive mindset

Jason is our user persona who represents the findings of our user interviews and surveys. He makes an effort to save water as a reaction to the high water bill. He struggles with understanding the water usage report from his water bill so he chose auto-pay. He needs an easier way to monitor his water usage frequently so he can improve his water consumption habit and react to problems more quickly. 


3. Aiming for behavior changes

Through our competitive/comparative research, we looked at a wide range of tracking apps, from utilities to finance and fitness. We were deeply inspired by how fitness apps utilize education and gamification to motivate users. The main takeaway was that our app needs to be more than a data monitor. It needs to be more engaging.

Images from Strava, Apple Activity and Nike Training Club

Images from Strava, Apple Activity and Nike Training Club


4. Validating our solution through a series of user tests and iterations

Our iterative design process focused on information architecture, data visualization, and content strategy.



Cultivating a positive habit to use water more responsively.

We created Ripple, a mobile app that actively engages the average household consumer to track their water usage and learn ways to reduce consumption..



3-Level Experience: Monitor, Learn and Act

The app consists of 3 main features: (1) a comprehensible water monitoring tool at the core, (2) reminder and awareness of water conservation, and (3) a personalized set of actionable items that encourages users to improve their water consumption habit. 



Easy-to-Understand Data in Context

We translated complex water usage data into intuitive visuals and layman terms. Also, we provided multiple contexts in order to make data more immediate and relatable. For instance, users can compare their own water consumption against suggested usage as well as community average usage. Users can also monitor their data in micro to macro view: day, week, month, and year.



Utilizing Modern Technology

We provided real time access to water usage powered by Smart Meter so users can quickly react to a problem.


Next Steps

  • Connecting the 3 features more seamlessly
  • Expanding the app experience into broader touch points: desktop, tablet as well as paper bill