Communication Design Studio II : Project 1
Increasing homeowners’ satisfaction & understanding of their homes through the process of increasing their home’s energy efficiency.
I designed a series of postcards that document a homeowner’s relationship with the house over time. They are written in the form of love letters, and the narrative prompts readers to place themselves in the story. It highlights common problems with houses and encourages people to know their houses better by getting an home energy score audit.
Today was the first day of class. I expected to be shown examples of things we might be doing this semester or as communication designers in the field, but we opened by looking at windup toys. I was pleasantly surprised to have a casual and thoughtful conversation about how the form of the toys informed our interactions and about how we felt about them. I was reminded that for this project and all my future projects, it’s important to elicit that similar sense of wonder, to draw people in and make them want to interact with my designs. I’m excited to work hard this semester and have fun at the same time!
I’m playing catch up on medium, since it’s been a while since I’ve posted. It’s not quite natural for me to reflect on classes in this way, but it is nice to have a central place for all my thoughts. In this class, Tim came in and talked about a whole ton of things. He talked about how energy and GDP are affected by politics, the different economic sectors, and the current ways we create energy. I found it interesting that collectively we spend 90% of our time indoors and are not putting much thought into how we can improve our homes/workplaces/etc. It was also a good point that we have owners manuals for our cars and other complex systems, but not our homes. It would be interesting to create some sort of manual for an energy efficient home for this project.
- What’s the entry point?
- How do I move from educating to motivating someone to take action?
- How do we get someone to care about something that doesn’t seem too relevant to them?
- What exactly are we supposed to do? Promote energy efficiency? Get people to redo their homes? To help them understand their energy usage better?
I think a good entry point would be to motivate people with points that are relevant to their personal lives, such as comfort, health, and safety. At this point I’m still a bit confused of what we’re actually supposed to create, but organizing these post-its are helping me see some of the big picture issues and ways to tackle the problem.
This class was both frustrating and helpful. Tim’s demonstration of the audit process was very interesting and fun. It did make me think about how inefficient our building is and how fixing up some stuff might help the school save money and help the environment be more comfortable. However, when we were talking about how to approach the project, Tim seemed to contradict himself and not know exactly what he wanted. I was glad that we were able to ask good questions and clarify what we were tackling though.
I narrowed down to 3 different buy ins. There was the health, comfort (using the context of temperature), and comfort (in the context of how making improvements can improve overall quality of life).
Some take aways from class:
- learn through making, design as discovery
- how can I broaden the scope of the project and not limit myself?
- keep in mind how type choice affects interpretation
Currently, I think I want to stick to a print medium. I’m envisioning a simple “homeowner’s manual” with key things to know about your home. Each section could have suggestions for how to make improvements that would lead to better efficiency. For a visualization of the HES, I’m thinking of taking a more illustrative approach than the current graphic ones. The scale could be a row of drawings/images/icons of houses, each house being a marker of a HES unit. There can be an indication of which home is most like yours. I’m hoping that this would make the HES more approachable, interesting and personal.
Content Brainstorm 1.26.16
I want to create a piece that is presented from the perspective of your home. It’s supposed to help the homeowner get to know their home through answering questions about the current state of their home, thinking about what they want to be better, and learning new and interesting facts. A home is a place that is comfortable, safe, welcoming, and expression of one’s self. Likewise, I want my design to be approachable, have personality, and be relevant. I want to focus on these areas of improvement: lighting, appliances, insulation/sealing, heating/cooling.
IDEA 1: write a story from the home’s perspective: Hello! Let’s get to know each other. There’s a lot that you might not know about me…..
IDEA 2: Every home has a story. What’s yours? One way to understand your home is by getting a Home Energy Score, a rating of your home’s energy performance. However, an HES is more than just a number, it’s an introduction to a unique story. Get to know your house. Find out what makes it tick, discover why it does what it does, understand its bare bones and, in return, see what you can do to make it a better home for you.
IDEA 3: (my favorite thus far) A love story
Title: The Most Important Relationship, You and Your Home, something along those lines
Chapter 1: The First Date
You know from first sight that this house was the one for you. It looks amazing. From your first steps through the door you can imagine it all, the parties, the holiday celebrations, reading the paper at the kitchen table, your future kids running down the stairs. The walls are without a crack, the natural lighting is superb, the appliances are new, and it fit everything on your list. This is it. This is the one.
Chapter 2: The “I Do”
You’re moving in! The papers are signed, and you can’t help but feel excited. You’ll be spending the rest of your lives together! You arrange your belongings and familiarize yourself with the in’s and out’s of your home.
Chapter 3: The Honeymoon Phase
You’re getting to know each other better. You fall more in love with your home every day. There’s that one detail that caught your eye for the first time the other day, the marvelous dish washer that saved you after that one party, and the room you just painted that makes you smile every time. Yes, there are a few cracks that you managed to miss earlier, and that one room is a bit drafty, but that’s just normal right? I mean, no house is perfect, but it’s perfect for you. Things are just right.
Chapter 4: The First Fight
I mean come one, it’s only been a month and the ceiling has already started leaking? And the energy bills must be a joke right? You’re wondering why nobody warned you about this. The trust that was once there is wavering, the foundation of your relationship shaken. You’re frustrated, but you can fix this. You’ve seen your neighbor Donna deal with the same things. It’ll be fine.
Chapter 5: The Quick Fix
Things are better now. The guy you called for help did a good job of stopping the leaks in the attic. He also patched up some of those cracks in the wall. He even said that sealing things up would save money on our next bill. Nothing is going to come in a ruin what you have now. That wasn’t hard right?
Chapter 6: The Ultimatum
This. is. it. This is the last straw. Yes, it’s been years and you’ve stuck with your house every problem, big and small. For a while things were even fine. You didn’t love what you had, but you learned to live with it and adjust. But there were secrets in the floorboards, baggage that came with your home that was hidden. But now it’s all in the open, and you’re disgusted. Your kids have been breathing in that stuff for who knows how long! And no wonder your spouse’s allergies have gotten worse. The promise of reduced bills remains unfulfilled, and you’re constantly trying to keep things together. From the outside everything seems fine. People still compliment your home when they come visit, but little do they know that things are falling apart. Right now, you want to be anywhere but here.
Chapter 7: The Counsel
This story might not exactly match yours, but there are aspects of it that we can all relate to. Your relationship with your home is one of the most important relationships that you’ll ever have. It’s meant to protect you, to make you comfortable, to support you in all your daily tasks. And in turn you’re responsible for being there for it when bad things happen, to maintain it, and help make it the best it can be. However, to do that you need to know your home, really know it.
One way to understand your home better is by getting a Home Energy Score, which produces a score that describes your home’s energy performance. However, an HES is more than just a number, it’s an introduction to a unique story. We help you uncover that by doing an official audit to find out what makes your house tick, to discover why it does what it does, and to understand its bare bones. A lot of the problems you’re facing can be solved by making your home more energy efficient, and this is just the first step. Don’t worry, this isn’t just another quick fix. Repairing and strengthening your relationship with you home takes time, but it’s well worth the effort.
^To Do: Shorten content, make tenses consistent, change point of view
I wish I was able to get more done over the weekend with this project. I think I’m getting somewhere, but I’m still not satisfied. I’m sticking with the “love story”, “you and your house” relationship story. I shortened my content by a bit, so I cut out unnecessary details, but it still seems a bit long. I wrote the story in first person to be a bit more accessible, and added dates/time stamps to the headers instead of using chapters. Right now, I have it in an accordion fold booklet, but I’m open to changing this. Each of the sections has a different color background, and they transition from green to red as more conflicts occur with the homeowner and the house. I use this similar gradient with my HES visualization, which is a row of ten identical houses that change in color. I might add some details like cracks or have the windows openable to make it more interactive, informative and interesting. Currently my visuals/graphics are very simple, and I’m worried that I won’t be able to hold a reader’s interest. I was thinking of adding illustrations to each page, but I didn’t have much time.
To Do’s for Thursday based on feedback:
- shorten text
- add illustrations
- provide instructions for next steps
Lower Priority/Less Sure:
- choose a different font for body text? Still not sure if it works, experiment at least
- add another diagram to make it more “scientific”? informative?
- alter form? maybe make content a booklet and HES the accordion/fold out
Some things to keep in mind:
Let the content influence the form, not vice versa. I’m used to starting by looking at inspiration when I’m deciding on what form my piece should take. I’m a definitely a big pinterest user when it comes to looking for ideas and getting started. I really appreciate that our program guides us to think about why we make decisions. Am I following a trend? Am I making my piece look this way because I’ve seen something similar that was cool? I’ve been encouraged to really think about how to best convey my message and to create something new and unique. It’s not just about looking “cool”, it’s about communicating well.
Don’t play it safe. It’s ok if my piece looks different than other people’s as long as I can defend my decisions. “Different” can start conversations, “safe” doesn’t stand out.
Near Final Draft
finalize colors, print, trim, make envelope/decide on packaging, photograph, make presentation.