The interaction design course was amazing. I really felt like I learned a lot, and I loved the process of iterating through designs and giving UI design some thought, in contrast to just throwing in buttons and pretty pictures.
A lot of theory from this course stems from the (highly recommendable) book Interaction Design; Beyond Human-Computer Interaction by Preece, Sharp & Rogers. We learned a bunch about researching target audience, building conceptual models, concept evaluations and common heuristics.
We began by researching the market and determining a target audience. We then examined the target audience using questionnaires and open interviews, to establish some requirements for our product. What we came up with was a system where the user would put an adapter between a power plug and the outlet. This adapter is capable of measuring the power consumed, and turning on/off the power consumption. The data measured is sent to a central box. The user can then access an app on his smartphone or tablet and gain an overview of that particular power outlets power consumption, and set up automatic plands for turning that outlet on or off.
To communicate and illustrate the user of our concept we drew storyboards and wrote scenarios. Using these, we presented our idea and got some feedback. Upon gaining this feedback, we could start to design the interface of the controlling app. We made a few designs using Balsamiq mockups, which we then evaluated using our target audience.
On the dashboard the user can gain a quick overview of the power consumption over the last day/week/month. Further more, the user is able to see how much money is being spent on power this instant in DKK. Lastly there’s the ability to shut off the individual power outlets. The Kontakter tab provides the user with an option to automate when the individual switches should be turned on or off. Finally, in the statistics tab, the user can dig deep in the statistics history to see exactly the data she wants.
As with design 1, on the dashboard the user can see a quick overview of the recent power consumption. Furthermore theres an overview of the current outlets powerconsumption, and 4 articles linking to methods for effecient power consumption.
After evaluating with users, it was decided that design number 1 was the best. Design 2 was too cluttered and presented unnecessary information. After selecting our design, we could start building it using web technologies.
A few extensive and detailed reports have been written for this particular project, there’s a lot more detail to it than I’m describing here. Every choice we’ve made in regards to design, is grounded in feedback from evaluations and user studies. It’s been a lot of fun to learn about attacking a project this way, and an important lesson is to not just design something based on what you think looks good. It must be grounded in the intended users opinions and reactions.