Reese Isamu Murakami
Reese Isamu Murakami
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(UX) Capstone + Ten Gun Design

Case Study

The capstone course for my user experience concentration approached Ten Gun Design to facilitate our final project.  They gave us their brief as a fictional, prefab home-building company called Mason Homes. We pitched our final concepts to them in the TenGun studio in Edmonds, WA.

 

The Team

Reese Murakami — Concept, prototype visual design, prototype development, pitch deck, usability testing

Gracie Rauen — Research, pitch deck, usability testing, content organization, production

Aiden Lee — Illustration, 3D rendering, usability testing

Jordan Wheeler — Concept, prototype visual design, usability testing, illustration


Brief

Mason Homes crafts prefabricated living experiences, elevated with connected technology. Design a home dashboard display that shows a holistic view of utility consumption.

Problem — Question

How might we positively change a homeowners utility consumption through elegant display of real-time data, and keep them engaged?

Considerations

Display can be a full wall panel or use a framed art approach, but it must blend in with the home. There should be minimal focus on charts, graphs, and numbers. Voice/face recognition possible.

Audience

Tech-savvy home buyers that are aspirational and easily frustrated by time sinks they perceive technology and services should provide.

 


User Research

The biggest question we had was what factored into homeowners' utility usage. We really wanted to know if the environment was actually something that influenced the homeowners' usage patterns and if we should focus on that aspect in our interface.

Insights Gained — After receiving 216 responses from ages 18 to over 60, our research findings informed us that our audience is for the most part environmentally conscious and don’t think about their water and electricity consumption daily. The audience has presumptions about themselves that they are generally environmentally conscious but they don’t necessarily monitor their usage. Most of our audience are not influenced by environmental impact.

Problem — Defined

People can’t physically see the damage that is being done to the environment, but they can see the money in their bank account and there is an overlap between the two missing in the current utility usage and payment process.

Solution

Using imagery and gamification in the home to invoke an emotional response and provide consistently available real time data on utility usage. Providing comfort and a reward system in sustainable usage practices.

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Concepts

Based on our research findings, we were able to narrow down what our interface needed and how we could achieve the interactivity that Mason Home was looking for.

1. Passive Usage Data

Mason Homes wants the user to be able to understand their daily usage at a glance without needing to enter the actual interface. We wanted to incorporate some sort of notification that would alert the users if their usage was abnormally high.

2. Gamification — Mason Coins

With gamification being important to Mason Homes, we came up with a virtual currency system that would allow users to receive rewards based on how much money they are saving on their bills and when they meet goals.

3. Philanthropy

Based on our research, we know that users are not driven to curb usage because of the environmental impact alone, but money saving would eventually plateau and users would not be driven to use the interface 

4. Self-Reflection

We wanted our interface to be unobtrusive in the home. We also wanted the interface to be somewhere people would be able to passively use it. We decided to house the interface in a full-length mirror because we felt that regardless of age, gender, and other differentiating factors, everyone looks at themselves in the mirror. We also felt that this could be a moment of self-reflection for the user.

5. Emotional Design

Mason Home encouraged us not to rely too heavily on numbers and charts to show usage data. Our group decided to prioritize data visualizations that appealed to the emotions of the user through color usage and by taking data and presenting it to the user as sentences and through encouraging messages.


Testing

Ver. 1 — Paper Prototype

Our initial low-fidelity prototype focused on the navigation structure and the clarity of our language and icon-suite. We wanted to make sure that users understood how to access the different screens and use our stationary nav.

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Insights Gained — Since the main purpose of the paper prototype was to have users look for pain points having to do with general navigation and icon style, we realized that we needed more clear icons for some of our screens, but that people liked our stationary nav.

 

Ver. 2 — High Fidelity

Our second prototype gave the users a list of tasks to complete, as this was a more in-depth test of the functionality of our interface. Our interface was more concept-driven, so we needed to make sure that users understood how the interface actually worked. This is also when we finalized the flow of the interface and which screens would be present.

Resting Screen — This screen is how the mirror will present itself while disengaged. The Mason Home logo used a home button in the top left corner is out of the way of the user looking at their reflection, but alerts will appear if an appliance is being overused or they are close to going over their usage limit.

Usage — This is the electricity side of the usage screen, the graph is minimal and accompanied by an encouraging message as the user is under their limit. There is also a control panel for running devices.

Charity —  When the user decides that it's time to use their mason coins, they go to the charity page and select a charity they wish to donate coins to, they can also suggest new charities that would be added to their regional roster.

Charity — When the user decides that it's time to use their mason coins, they go to the charity page and select a charity they wish to donate coins to, they can also suggest new charities that would be added to their regional roster.

Home — The home screen is where main notifications will go as well as a simplified version of the usage screens and goals. The interface is modular and would be customizable by the user.

Goals —  The goals are either set by the users or they are suggested based on data from other Mason Homes with similar family units.

Goals — The goals are either set by the users or they are suggested based on data from other Mason Homes with similar family units.

Testing Limitation —  We used an iPad to test the prototype, but this limited the usability by forcing the user to scroll rather than having all of the information available at once.

Testing Limitation — We used an iPad to test the prototype, but this limited the usability by forcing the user to scroll rather than having all of the information available at once.

Usability Testing Results

  • Overall too much text on home and usage screen

  • Color scheme is too dark and masculine

  • Red color is too vivid, anxiety inducing

  • Bullseye icon not indicative of "goals"

  • Not enough passive interaction with the single alert

  • Too many alerts on home screen

  • Top info bar looks like buttons

  • Home button doesn't look like a button

  • Add screen titles

  • Goal chart doesn't make sense

 

Ver. 3 — Final Prototype

Most of the critique of our high-fidelity prototype had to do with color usage, icon clarity, and the amount of text on the screen at one time. Our final prototype took note of all positive and negative feedback. We also wanted to change how the user interacted with the tasks and presented the next task after completion of the previous one.



Resting Screen —  As a response to the critique that there was too little going on in the resting state, we added a small bar under the home logo that signifies how much of the daily usage limit has been taken up. The bar will reset everyday and gives the homeowner a glanceable look at how much they are using.

Resting Screen — As a response to the critique that there was too little going on in the resting state, we added a small bar under the home logo that signifies how much of the daily usage limit has been taken up. The bar will reset everyday and gives the homeowner a glanceable look at how much they are using.

Usage —  This is the electricity side of the usage screen. The way you navigate between this screen and the water screen changed from swiping to a tap. The graph is now a live feed of usage that is constantly updating and directly compares to the previous week's usage. The points can be interacted with to display detailed info. The numbers were replaced by color gradation that get's more intense as the usage limit is approached.

Usage — This is the electricity side of the usage screen. The way you navigate between this screen and the water screen changed from swiping to a tap. The graph is now a live feed of usage that is constantly updating and directly compares to the previous week's usage. The points can be interacted with to display detailed info. The numbers were replaced by color gradation that get's more intense as the usage limit is approached.

Philanthropy —  A title was added to this screen and the donate button was moved and made more clear.

Philanthropy — A title was added to this screen and the donate button was moved and made more clear.

Home —  This page was cleaned up and the nav was changed so that all buttons are the same size. The devices in use section was also cleaned up and the text was replaced with icons. The greeting was cut to be shorter, but still friendly. The top nav bar was also changed to make it more separate from the rest of the interface

Home — This page was cleaned up and the nav was changed so that all buttons are the same size. The devices in use section was also cleaned up and the text was replaced with icons. The greeting was cut to be shorter, but still friendly. The top nav bar was also changed to make it more separate from the rest of the interface

Goals —  The main chart on this screen changed to a visualization of individual usage progress. This is also the only screen where the encouraging messages live. A title was added to the top of the screen and the completed goals are now seprate from the other goals.

Goals — The main chart on this screen changed to a visualization of individual usage progress. This is also the only screen where the encouraging messages live. A title was added to the top of the screen and the completed goals are now seprate from the other goals.

Notification —  The notifications in the previous version came up when the user navigated to the usage screen, the notifications now come up as soon as the user interacts with the interface to reduce the amount of taps before the alert can be addressed.

Notification — The notifications in the previous version came up when the user navigated to the usage screen, the notifications now come up as soon as the user interacts with the interface to reduce the amount of taps before the alert can be addressed.


Outcome

The data collected from the research really made me think about what actually motivates people to reduce their carbon footprint and curb their resource usage. The reality that out of the 216 people that responded to our survey, less than 5% always take the environment into account when using resources is something that I'll carry with me. I think that our solution to our brief is high-concept and forward-thinking, but relies on the foundation and funding of a large (fictional) company. I think that more time researching the benefits of virtual currencies and how the users would actually react to out Mason Coin system would be beneficial. Overall, I think that we came up with an unexpected, possible solution to a real problem.

 
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