Project 1

Resonating facts

The Home Energy Score

Our first studio assignment was a client-based project for private contractor Tim Carryer. The goal was to engage homeowners in conversation about energy efficiency in their homes.

Day 2: Jan. 14, 2016

Today Tim came in and talked to our class about home energy efficiency. This was to get us started with more information about the first project. He covered a lot of logistical detail about efficiency, and encouraged us to think about how to relate such information to home owners.

Key ideas/questions:

How do we motivate people? What’s the focus of incentive?

How do industries scale?

How do we build trust?

Day 3: Jan. 19, 2016

HW due today:

Thinking about story components.

Tim showed us the blower door test and related air flow and pressure to things people care about, like health (pressure differentials means moisture means mold) and savings (cut utility costs).

Today’s class was also helpful in clarifying the post-it note process, that is, how to use it. Thinking concretely about what messages we want to say helps me key in on the type of message I want to convey in my story. It also helped to have set a goal of encouraging getting audits (mini or HES style), even if I’m still working to understand the details about this action.

Day 4: Jan. 21, 2016

HW due today:

Post-it note storyboarding.

We discussed some of the message types that people were focusing on. We realized some approaches were less desirable, such as improving the environment because the concept was too large, too vague, and overdone with little success. Key idea: People like to see the impact of their actions (immediately). Thus, approaches that worked better were relatable and personal. Our next step is to make the project more tangible. This involves plugging in content and thinking about form. An important point that Stacie brought up was that we should open up the framing of the problem, try different perspectives and not box ourselves in.

Day 5: Jan. 26, 2016

Broad idea/approach: Equate taking care of the house to taking care of children, or others living in the house. Use empathy to make homeowners care for the house (for enjoyment, health, safety). Inefficiency is “sickness”; efficient houses are healthy.

Content — draft:

*** *** ***

Is your home sick?

If it is, you might be exposed to risk / you might be losing energy and money and not even know it. Having a healthy house is crucial to creating a healthy lifestyle for you and your household. How can you know if your house is sick?

For many houses, the signs aren’t visible on the outside. In fact, many of this house’s internal systems are failing and inefficient, in terms of energy.

What is energy efficiency?

Energy efficiency is the sign of a healthy home. You may perform the same tasks using less energy, or more tasks using the same amount of energy as before. An efficient home breathes easier, and you will too. You’ll both be much safer from all sorts of health risks.

Example: Leaks in insulation give rise to dreaded mold infestation. Symptoms of a household with mold include odors, allergies, and toxic black mold poisoning.

Keep your household safe!

You can get your home a checkup in the form of a home energy audit. To make things easier, your first step may be to get the quicker, cheaper MINI AUDIT and understand how healthy it actually is. A mini audit can give you an idea of what’s wrong, and provide some better options for your family to take.

It’s good to understand how well your home is doing. The professional audit from __ (the government?) provides you with a Home Energy Score so you know just how well yours is standing up. Did you know? Higher scores indicate efficient and highly valuable houses on the market, and your score can change. Take care of your house and make the right adjustments. A healthy home means a better lifestyle for you and your household.

Get an audit today!

*** *** ***

Day 6: Jan 28, 2016

Content writing:

HES Design:

Round 1 iterations. My focus of exploration was on the visual representation of the HES as a scale and numeric score, with less attention to text and labels.

Rough drafts of HES diagram design


  • Careful using metaphors. This model tries to relate a numeric score to temperature, where the better-worse relationship of numbers doesn’t translate well.
  • 2 is higher but…it’s worse?
  • Vertical vs. horizontal orientation — what value does height bring?
  • Use the theme of the message as the basis for HES design.
  • “Bang them over the head with labels.”
  • Note: HES is 1–10, but numbers say 0–10

After receiving critique for these, I think I may have to drop the thermometer idea for the meantime. My next steps are to think of other forms that communicate about the health and sickness of a house, and to explore HES designs more freely by sketching.

Day 7: Feb. 2, 2016

Main components:

  • Rough draft
  • HES design
Sketches. Left: HES design & product rough draft ideas. Right: HES design.

I began to put together a rough draft of my final product deliverable. The idea is a sort of interactive card game, where players or users are homeowners who use the cards to simulate the process of “healing” their home.

Users would receive all the cards in a package, along with a message about energy efficiency (see written content) that starts on the packaging and continues inside. After the message will be instructions for the card game.

Message, cards and instructions come in an unfolding package.
A rough draft sample card deck. Images and text shown above are placeholders. Text from:

The muddy green cards are “Problem” cards. The message would explain that an audit would tell users which problems their home has, thus informing them which cards in the pack are applicable to them. At this point, users can then get an audit, consult an energy expert, and ignore the cards altogether…OR:

They can search through the bright green “Solution” cards for possible next steps in response to their selected problem cards. These cards display a code, which users will be prompted by instructions to enter into a place on a website/digital platform. The website will generate a projected HES, based on either inputted problems the user thinks her home has, or knows it has after getting an audit. With each action code that she inputs, she can see her HES rising. The idea is that seeing a score increasing in response to “action” will incentivize the user to take the real action.

A rough outline of the digital user flow (this would be mobile version):

Free Write

I’ve been updating this Medium post to track my work and thoughts, and I have to say I love having such a visual display of my progress.

In terms of the project, I decided to explore the cards idea described above rather out of nowhere. I had to flesh it out in order to get a real feel for how it would work. This was done in a very short amount of time, especially because I was away for the weekend too. I had also brainstormed other ideas (see sketches), but I felt that it was better to invest some time into developing a sense for this one rather than try to start something for each possible exploration. This makes me a little nervous in case this just doesn’t work well and I’ll have to start from scratch with such limited time.

Main questions:

  1. If you received this package in the mail, would you open it?
  2. Is the user flow from package to digital OR audit clear?
  3. Is there a better way I could lay out the information inside?

For Thurs:

  • Reorganize inside layout, clarify end goal (flow)
  • Content — make unified, direct flow to getting an audit (call to action). Reorient it around health once again.
  • Integrate cards and pamphlet so they’re more cohesive — feel less like two separate parts.

Day 8: Feb. 4, 2016

Tentative final piece.

Color palette.

Illustrator screenshots

Some Process

Stacie Rohrbach

Left: Inside. Right: Outside.

The pamphlet still opens the same way, with an envelope in the center of the inside. I rearranged the layout a lot based on how I observed people reading it (incorrectly). The “column” colors were not strong indicators of the flow of reading as I’d expected. I also stretched the HES across two panels to open up the space a bit more. I worked on unifying the color scheme, and made some cosmetic changes as well.

This is an example of a prototype I used to test my layout. It showed me a lot that wasn’t working, i.e. the user started reading at the top center when I wanted the left most paragraph to be first, so I moved it up.

Day 9: Feb. 9, 2016

Today we presented our final prototypes to Tim Carryer.

Digital version
Print version