Energy Australia

— When yours is a 'grudge purchase', you can't afford to suck.

▲ Title slide from our showcase pack referring to the affectionate name we gave the project: FoMo....

Background

Energy Australia needed a new mobile app to evolve their current one. Badly (Rating: 1.8 on the app store). It needed to nail the basic expectations of a digital service app while setting a new benchmark for energy consumption data. But I wasn't satisfied with that. I thought: "Why can't we empower customers, with their own data, to become more informed about their consumption habits?"

My role

Strategic Design Lead,
Lead UX and UI designer,
Product Owner (later).

Team

UX & UI Designer, Product Owner, two Business Analysts, a Lead Developer and four iOS & four Android developers.

Timeframe

20 months

Tools

Figma, as well as HTML & Javascript for prototypes and all the usual office programs! Oh, and Slack for chat.

Getting started

With the core team we ran a workshop with 40+ customers. During the sessions we introduced some of the EA team members in to the mix as ‘secret shopper’ style observers to get genuine, direct feedback from actual and potential customers.

We had participants brainstorm and, by voting, prioritise must-haves and new feature concepts for the new EA App. Using this information gathered from this series of workshops I put in place a roadmap to design and develop a pair of new, native apps for Android and iOS EA users.

The two big take-aways:

  • Make the basics easy.
  • Give me, the customer, more control.
  • Findings

    Billing, energy usage graphs and account maintenance for multiple properties all ranked highly as desirable app features. The current app was woefully inadequate as far as accessibility. We set about ensuring that every new component we built was bespoke and designed with a core focus on accessibility principles and reusability.

    Crafting a true design system of Figma components ensured we could customise everything to suit all screen sizes, zoom settings, light & dark modes. Our new core experience designed around properties and energy account gained massively improved SUS scores compared to baseline SUS scores achieved by the current state experience.

    Going further...

    On top of this, through rounds of research and testing we came up with a fresh take on energy usage insights in the form of a weekly report: A new way to contextualise their data that made sense to customers.

    Usage reports delivered in the way they chose (in-app, push, email or SMS) with recent, memorable usage stats, anchored to recent domestic behaviour and events.

    "If I was home more last week, or away on holiday (the weekly report) would make sense if my energy usage was up or down...".

    - Dave, an EA customer recruited for testing.

    ▲ An example usage report, used in testing, approaching our final design. All of these data points are easily isolated and announced by the native device screen readers.

    ▲ Design system components built as a library in Figma including light and dark palettes for both iOS and... We put an enormous amount of effort in to this design system.

    Prototypes

    For me, striving for the highest accessibility standard possible is paramount - To ensure each component was designed and built with accessibility at its core we wrote principles and prototyped our user interfaces. Here is an interactive example I built to test typographic scalability. This data "insight" component is a key information delivery UI feature and it would need to work on any screen size, with any type scale or zoom level applied.


    Increase the base type size to see how the components respond...

    I also prototyped animations for the developers. This ensured consistent quality and polish and the HTML & CSS attributes help translate the design into an interactive reality. The dev team appreciated the collaborative approach.

    Having high fidelity prototypes such as these took much of the guess work out of the development stories.

    Outcomes

    Starting as Lead Strategic Designer I eventually had the opportunity to take over as Product Owner when that individual moved on from EA to pursue an external role elsewhere. Over the course of the preceding year I built great rapport with the team who then fully endorsed me in taking over as a dual role, Lead Designer and Product Owner. Aside from leading the design of a fully accessible, custom built app for both iOS and Android I’m proud of developing my team at EA into a productive and friendly bunch of colleagues.

    In terms of the app itself, I'm extremely proud of the work I put in to make the experience accessible. Using our innovative data presentation methods for billing and usage graphs, customers of any ability have options on how to access their data in ways that they could easily consume. We had solved a problem that would later make the news.

    ▲ Design specs to instruct our devs how to code screen reader prompts...

    TLDR
    The big, human-centric wins...


    100% top-notch, accessible apps for all energy customers with bills and billing info a screen reader can parse!


    A new take on energy insights which brings value to customers using their own consumption data.