UX Research | Design | Strategy

Design for Behavior

Design to reduce energy use in the home


The team. Marcus Gardner, Satoshi Inoue, Darren Kennedy, Gianfranco Villagomez, Amy Mihalevich, Meredith Tack and Adriana Phillips-Guzman.

The goal of this project was to find ways to encourage homeowners to reduce energy consumption. We started with a discovery phase where we learned how people (really) understand energy. Each member of the team conducted in-home interview sessions in order to know more about who the consumers were and their daily habits.  

Patterns. After sharing our perceptions and what we learned, it was easier to find patterns in behavior.  We learned that most people try to conserve energy, but they donʼt know how to. They compare to their neighbors and friends and, for them it's important to be considered better at saving energy.  Homeowners often think of efficiency in terms of big projects, rather than daily practices. Finally, they wanted to have immediate feedback and some control over the daily energy consumption. We agreed that to help people change their behavior, we had to offer them actions to take that were easy, rewarding, and normal (part of their daily routine).

Paper Prototyping & Testing

Additional research on the topic included: understanding energy consumption, studying existing technologies and theories on controlling consumption, analyzing how energy companies communicate to users, and studying concepts as challenges and gamification to stimulate behavior change.  Our first concept was a home device able to provide immediate feedback to users, flag milestones, provide tips to learn new behaviors with a social component that allows you to challenge yourself against your neighbors. To test this concept, we used the personas we built during the discovery phase and made quick mock ups of the user interface to test with homeowners.

What we learned from the testing is that we needed to simplify. People don’t want to stand at the wall for very long. Also, several people wanted a supporting mobile app that could be connected to the device on the wall. People expressed that they wanted something that looked nice on their wall more if they could hide the numbers and information from public.

UI and Design Concepts

Industrial designers were in charge of developing the form of the device, while I was responsible for developing the UI for the device. With the data collected from interviews and testing, I was able to come up with a clean, simple, and visually friendly solution. This prototype was tested again, and we made some adjustments in colors and icons before our final presentation. Below you can see the UI Design and the scenarios created based on our persona's goals.