OUR PLANET, OUR WATER

How to Design a Digital Product for Sustainability

Water Conservation Influenced Our Design Journey

Paul Myers MBA
Feb 10 · 12 min read

“Is water the gold of the 21st century?” — Paul Farrell

WaterWhys is an idea.

Water Whys Logo — Design A Digital Product For Sustainability by Paul Myers
Water Whys Logo — Design A Digital Product For Sustainability by Paul Myers
WhaterWhys — Logo

Main Features of the Site

Following in-depth market research (see below), the WaterWhys website proposes to offer a trifecta of elements for the user, namely:

Water Whys Theme — Design A Digital Product For Sustainability by Paul Myers
Water Whys Theme — Design A Digital Product For Sustainability by Paul Myers
WaterWhys Theme

Product Goals

The product goals for WaterWhys is to create a reciprocal people-centered digital platform. It is envisaged that future releases will adopt a crowdsourcing theme. An open-source product will encourage and empower users to engage in the development and continuous improvement of a mutually-beneficial tool designed around a vital resource, water.

1. Service

This Goal relates to improving customer service satisfaction thus improving customer retention by including users as part of the product evolution.

2. Social

This Goal is about giving back to the community, raising awareness, promoting education, and sharing conservation knowledge through social participation.

3. Profit

While WaterWhys is a non-profit concept it is anticipated that in time the social value will enable the accrual of revenue through crowd-funding, selective advertising, and commercial support/commission.

4. Growth

It is forecast that accelerated expansion will occur through user participation and social media channels.

User Needs

Goals and needs were measured against the five criteria of SMART below:

Water Whys Goals— Design A Digital Product For Sustainability by Paul Myers
Water Whys Goals— Design A Digital Product For Sustainability by Paul Myers
WaterWhys user goals
  • User Goal № 2— The user can then apply what they’ve learned and begin to formulate their own ideas on saving water.
  • User Goal № 3— Users share new ideas for the benefit of fellow participants.
  • User Goal № 4— By sourcing products, tools and techniques users save money while conserving water.
  • User Goal № 5— User participation leads to growth, increasing traffic and site value.

Site Goals

Site goals were identified, defined and recorded as follows:

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

This ethos minimizes the amount of space while maximizing the amount of information with streamlined navigation.

Research

In order to educate users on the subject of water usage, the team collated initial requirements from a user's point of view.

Initial Requirements list

Water Whys Requirements list — Design A Digital Product For Sustainability by Paul Myers
Water Whys Requirements list — Design A Digital Product For Sustainability by Paul Myers
WaterWhys — Initial Requirements

Critical Success Factors

The critical success factors for WaterWhys are based on research interviews with potential users to gauge their needs and usage within their homes.

  1. Do you think you use an excessive amount of water in a week?
  2. How many times is the washing machine running per week?
  3. How many times is the dishwasher running per week?
  4. What would help you decrease your water?
Water Whys Persona — Design A Digital Product For Sustainability by Paul Myers
Water Whys Persona — Design A Digital Product For Sustainability by Paul Myers
WaterWhys — Sample Research

Assessment

A lot of potential users didn’t seem to be aware of their own water usage. They had some idea that they may be using water excessively but they have no way of actually gauging this.

Information

Once the users assess their usage they can action ways to help decrease their consumption. Clear information and real-world tips and advice will be at hand to help them decrease their daily and weekly usage.

Personas

Personas were chosen to reflect a diversity of approaches and opinions. This was important to capture because conservation without broad-based appeal is ineffective and counter-productive.

Water Whys Personas in Detail — Design A Digital Product For Sustainability by Paul Myers
Water Whys Personas in Detail — Design A Digital Product For Sustainability by Paul Myers
WaterWhys Sample Personas

Functionality

The content was chosen for the Webapp site with ease of use in mind — the simplicity of access to pertinent information.

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Image for post
WhaterWhys — Function Module 1 & 2
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Image for post
WhaterWhys — Function Module 3
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WhaterWhys — Function Module 4 & 5

Brand And Design

During ideation development, our initial design concept chose to base the layout for the website in a single page format.

“Design thinking can empower the team to be intuitive and logical at the same time. Design thinking enables team members to be more creative to recognise new patterns in transforming environments.“— Dr Mehmet Yildiz

Single page websites lend themselves well to story-telling of a product and the user's interaction with it. They also bring a sense of continuity across devices, which is important to the brand aesthetics and identity.

Water Whys Design Research — Design A Digital Product For Sustainability by Paul Myers
Water Whys Design Research — Design A Digital Product For Sustainability by Paul Myers
WaterWhys — Design Research
Water Whys Design Wireframe — Design A Digital Product For Sustainability by Paul Myers
Water Whys Design Wireframe — Design A Digital Product For Sustainability by Paul Myers
WaterWhys — Design Mock-up

“Simple is better than complicated. This is a no-brainer for all of us.” —Miki Ishai

We designed the individual elements in such a way so that they would look similar when viewed on different devices, so we included elements that could use HTML 5 tags, along with drags, swipes and other gestures.

Water Whys High Resolution Design — Design A Digital Product For Sustainability by Paul Myers
Water Whys High Resolution Design — Design A Digital Product For Sustainability by Paul Myers
WaterWhys — Design Hight Resolution

Logo

WaterWhys brand proposition subtlety conveys its purpose by encompassing three key undertones:

  1. Education (Question Mark and ‘Salmon of Knowledge’) and
  2. Conservation (Salmon)
Water Whys Logo — Design A Digital Product For Sustainability by Paul Myers
Water Whys Logo — Design A Digital Product For Sustainability by Paul Myers
WhaterWhys — Logo

Design Decisions

The team identified with the product, deciding on a name, by consensus. We used Trello to ‘brainstorm’ ideas. Each idea was posted and voted upon to establish a name that reflected the project and brand proposition.

Water Whys Trello Ideation— Design A Digital Product For Sustainability by Paul Myers
Water Whys Trello Ideation— Design A Digital Product For Sustainability by Paul Myers
WaterWhys — Team Design Ideation

Define

The designers took the name and exhausted logo options, taking into account the three key components: water, education, and conservation.

  • Green — To convey sustainability, the environment, and the Earth. Green is also associated with education.
Water Whys Design Proposal 1 — Design A Digital Product For Sustainability by Paul Myers
Water Whys Design Proposal 1 — Design A Digital Product For Sustainability by Paul Myers
WaterWhys Designer 1

Develop

The team agreed that the salmon design, proposed, was a unique choice for knowledge; enhanced by the droplet and the question mark, signifying the questions relating to water.

Water Whys Design Proposal 2— Design A Digital Product For Sustainability by Paul Myers
Water Whys Design Proposal 2— Design A Digital Product For Sustainability by Paul Myers
WaterWhys Designer 2

Conclusion

Upon reflection, my thoughts and insights are as follows:

Water Whys Digital Device Layout— Design A Digital Product For Sustainability by Paul Myers
Water Whys Digital Device Layout— Design A Digital Product For Sustainability by Paul Myers
WaterWhys Digital Layouts

References

  • Chand, K. (2020). Oceans x Design — Stanford d.school. [online] Stanford d.school. Available at: https://dschool.stanford.edu [Accessed 8 Feb. 2020].
  • Cox, A. (2015). Blog: The seven critical success factors for mobile apps and services — TechSPARK.co. [online] TechSPARK.co. Available at: https://www.techspark.co [Accessed 8 Feb. 2020].
  • Mallya, D. (2017). Eureka! Four Ideation Techniques To Get Your Team Thinking. [online] Entrepreneur. Available at: https://www.entrepreneur.com [Accessed 8 Feb. 2020].
  • O’Halloran, S. (2013). Finn Mac Cumhaill and the Salmon of Knowledge | IrishCentral.com. [online] IrishCentral.com. Available at: https://www.irishcentral.com [Accessed 8 Feb. 2020].
  • Theus, A. (2018). 5 Steps to a Winning Product Strategy | ProductPlan. [online] Productplan.com. Available at: https://www.productplan.com [Accessed 8 Feb. 2020].

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Paul Myers MBA

Written by

Top writer in Business, Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Startups & Innovation. Interested in all things E-commerce — https://www.linkedin.com/in/paul-m-ecommerce/

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Top writer in Business, Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Startups & Innovation. Interested in all things E-commerce — https://www.linkedin.com/in/paul-m-ecommerce/

Age of Awareness

Stories providing creative, innovative, and sustainable changes to the education system

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