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