Opower Energy Efficiency Platform

Goals

Engage consumers in reducing energy consumption.

Expand product features while doubling number of clients and users.

My Contributions

User Research & Analysis
Personas
Design Principles
Concept Development
Sketches and Wireframes
Usability Evaluation
Developer Support

Teammates

Colleen Koranda, UX Designer
Jim Jones, Visual Designer
Deena Rosen, UX Manager

Background

Opower is a pioneer in behavioral energy efficiency—a platform of communications and software tools that nudge consumers towards using less energy in their homes.

When I joined, the flagship product—the Home Energy Report—had been on the market for ~2 years, producing substantial results in energy efficiency.

Opower's Home Energy Report

During my tenure, product development focused on expanding the functionality of the web product, while also scaling from ~20 to 50+ utility clients, more than doubling our user base.

Working with Agile development (3-week sprints), our design process moved quickly and iteratively, involving close collaboration with product managers, engineers, and frequent usability testing.

I delivered wireframes and functional specification for 15 product releases.

Opower's Web App

Key Design Challenges

1

Designing for everyone

Opower users include everyone who receives a utility bill—a group that is extremely diverse in both knowledge and motivation. This presents a challenge to taking different user perspectives into account in order to satisfy both novices and experts, skeptics and the converted.

2

Developing UX Strategy

In a period of rapid growth, client feature requests and tech debt have a way of dominating the product roadmap. It was important for the UX team to find time to develop and evangelize a broader vision for addressing user needs and improving the overall experience.

User Research

The key to solving both challenges was in developing a deep understanding of our users and their reactions to the product.

The UX team collected ~40 hour-long phone interviews with consumers who had received reports for more than 6 months. The conversations elicited a rich narrative of each user's reaction to the reports as it evolved over time.

I personally recruited and moderated 12 interview sessions.

User Interview Discussion guide

Analysis

To analyze the data, the UX team gathered for an all-day off-site. As a group we used affinity diagramming exercises to generate a list of key attributes that distinguished the participants. We then identified cluster patterns of characteristics that represented our core user personas.

Analyzing research data

Personas

We created 7 user personas representing various attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors that were revealed in our research.

We distributed the personas throughout the company in various formats: posters, slides, and cards.

7 User Personas

Design Principles

We also a developed a set of 9 design principles to serve as guiding rationale for our design decisions.

Each principle names a particular of quality that we want our products to embody, then provides explanation of how we achieve these qualities.

Opower Design Principles

UX Backlog

Our research revealed a number of issues that were currently limiting the user experience.

To communicate these we created a prioritized backlog in JIRA where UX issues are described along with proposed solutions.

This helped Product Managers consider UX concerns when prioritizing user stories for development.

UX Backlog

Concept Sketches

We brainstormed and sketched new features and enhancements to solve the most pressing UX issues.

Sketches

Many of our ideas focused on providing more personalized and actionable recommendations.

Sketches

For example, by inviting users to tell us more details about their home, we can then provide tailored advice about the most impactful ways to save.

Sketches

Results

Our research, strategy, and design work helped define the core experience for what has become the market leader in energy efficiency and customer engagement.

Opower products are now used by 100 utilites and reach over 60 million users worldwide.

The energy efficiency platform has helped customers save over $1.1 bilion in energy costs and over 13 billion lbs of C02.

Opower's Energy Efficiency Platform