Opower Rate Analysis Tool
Help utility customers to understand pricing plans and find their best option.
Sketches and Wireframes
Colleen Koranda, UX Designer
Jim Jones, Visual Designer
PG&E, one of the country's largest utilities, tasked Opower to create a web product to help its customers understand their available pricing plans.
The product team identified four goals of the user experience: 1) understand how the rates work and how they are different from one another, 2) understand how rates will affect your bill, 3) understand how you can adjust your usage to save on dynamic rates, 4) decide which rate is best for you.
Key Design Challenges
Accomodate diverse use cases
The interface had to be flexible enough to work in a wide range of situations. For example, some users have only 2 pricing options, while other have 10. The solution has to equally usable and effective in either scenario.
Explain complex concepts
Many of the pricing plans are quite complex and involve industry concepts like "time-of-use pricing" and "peak demand response" that are confusing and unfamiliar to the average consumer. Our task was to convey these concepts in simple terms understandable by anyone.
Iterative Design and Testing
To find the best solution we used an iterative process involving multiple rounds of wireframing, prototyping, and usability testing.
We explored a wide variety interface layouts and task flows. The most promising concepts were converted to interactive prototypes and tested with users to assess comprehension and ease-of-use.
Flexible card-based layout
Our winning interface concept was grid of cards. This allowed pricing plans to be easily scanned and compared and provided flexibility to accomodate anywhere from 2 to 12 pricing options.
Each card contains just the essential information needed to compare plans, with visual emphasis put on the estimated cost.
Detail page w/ faq
Clicking on a card leads to a detail page that explains how the rate work and provides answers to common questions.
The primary call to action leads to a Q&A flow inviting users to think about they can adjust their usage to save money.
This experience serves to both improve the user's cost estimates to educate the user about how dynamic pricing works.
Crafting effective copy
It was crucial to the success of the product to explain the rates using simple, concise, consistent, and jargon-free language.
Much of my time on this project was spent carefully crafting the wording for the interface, testing it with users, and gaining client buy-in.
The final product was well-received by PG&E and was launched to their entire customer base of over 5 million people.
The product increased customer engagement and adoption of dynamic pricing, and led to reductions in peak energy usage.
Opower delivered similar rate analysis tools for several other large utility companies.