Helping utility customers save energy through behavior change design, a streamlined  sign-up, and color-blind optimization.

Background

Opower is a leader in the energy analytic space, providing end-consumers with detailed reports on how their energy usage stands up against their neighbors. Through this comparison and designing around behavior change, Opower is able to reduce energy usage to help utility companies and governments meet ambitious energy-saving goals.

As a user-experience design intern then contractor at Opower in Arlington, VA, I had the opportunity to work closely on a number of small project around improving user energy usage through behavior change. My primary tasks were to perform a full analysis and revamp of the Opower sign-up flow for the web portal.

Beyond this, I also had the opportunity to do a full color-blind accessibility audit across the entire Opower product space to improve the experience of those suffering from various forms of color-blindness. I also worked closely with a team to explore mobile app options for the future of Opower.

Designing for behavior change

A core component of designing for Opower was the challenge of helping inform individuals and empower them to make better decisions, while developing better habits over time. Founded in research by Robert Cialdini, Opower sought to formalize structures for helping people change once, multiple times, over time, and eventually, into habit forming stages.

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A key component of the paper report, your comparison to your neighbors

The paper report delivered by Opower helped set norms by showing energy usage by people like you, leading to a sort of competition over time to save. Other constructs in the paper and electronic designs sought to increase and motivate these changes. This led to a great deal of energy savings over time, and happy, engaged consumers.

My role during my internship and contract work with Opower included some module review of this report, as well as upskilling on behavior change design in general.

Sign-up form revamp

Opower was faced with a challenge: with so many utility partners, they wanted to standardize and improve the process of users signing up, sometimes with complex data requirements. I was tasked with research and user testing on existing sign-up form, redesign of the form and further testing. In this process I did a great deal of heuristic evaluation, comparative analysis, user interviews, and a team brainstorm

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A clear, instructional sign-up form, branded by utility

 

Audit for color blindness

In addition to my work in form revamp, I also had the opportunity to do a full color-blind accessibility audit across the entire Opower product space, focusing on branded utility portals. I began by researching color blind best practices, auditing, CCAG guidelines, and tools. Reviewing over 15 branded utility sites, I inventoried the current state of color blind accessibility and presented a set of recommendations and best practices for the product team.

Color blind best practices, a nda-free subset of a fuller presentation for Opower

Color blind best practices, a nda-free subset of a fuller presentation for Opower

Opower Mobile Suite

Finally, I had the rare opportunity to design a mobile suite from the ground up. With the help of a dedicated team of designs, I looked at combining a wide array of Opower products, including analytics, social, thermostat, and more, into a comprehensive mobile suite. This meant multiple iterations of designs, a long consideration of information architecture and boiling things down into an actionable, directing, and intuitive/simple mobile site.

Helping customers save money while reducing energy through personalized home audit and coupons

Helping customers save money while reducing energy through personalized home audit and coupons

A key component to this redesign was understanding deeply the type and variety of customers who would be using this application. To  this end our team dug deep and developed a number of personas around best practices, aspects, and key needs and motivators for the Opower mobile application.

One of many personas defining who would use this next generation product

One of many personas defining who would use this next generation product