Cultivating a positive habit to reduce water usage.


Challenge

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.

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Process

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

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

Toolkit: surveys, user interviews, comparative and competitive analysis, content audit, affinity mapping, personas, user scenarios, user flows, wireframes, paper and digital prototyping, usability testing

Deliverables: high-fidelity prototype for mobile application


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

Our user user research addressed that many consumers struggle to understand their water usage. The water bill and meter 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.

 

2. Targeting the reactive mindset

Jason is our user persona who represents the findings of our user interviews and surveys.

  • makes an effort to save water as a reaction to the high water bill
  • struggles with understanding the water usage report from his water bill
  • needs an easier way to monitor his water usage frequently so he can improve his water consumption habit and react to problems more quickly
 

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Images from Strava, Apple Activity and Nike Training Club

Images from Strava, Apple Activity and Nike Training Club

3. Aiming for behavior changes

To help Jason reduce his water usage, our app needed to be more than a data monitor. We were deeply inspired by how fitness apps utilize education and gamification to motivate users.

 

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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.

 

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Solution

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.

 

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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. 

 

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Monitor

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.

By utilizing Smart Meter, which allows real-time access to data, users can now review their data in micro to macro view: day, week, month, and year.

 

Learn

Learn section provides articles, tips, and community information regarding water conservation. This aims to inspire and educate users to be more responsible for their water usage and proactive on saving water.

 
 

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Act

My Milestones section provides a personalized list of actionable items to save water. Users can earn badges based on their conservation efforts. Also, with the alert function, users can now 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