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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We brainstormed and sketched new features and enhancements to solve the most pressing UX issues.
Many of our ideas focused on providing more personalized and actionable recommendations.
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.
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.