Solar Analytics is an Australian green tech startup, established in 2014. They deliver real-time solar and home energy monitoring through a hardware device, installed in the meter board and cloud based companion app – the ‘Solar Analytics Dashboard’.
With a small but brilliant team of engineers and developers behind it, the technology powering the app was sorted. The real challenge was, “How do we get people to love this product? How do we get them to change their energy behaviour and make the most out of their solar?”
The team at Solar Analytics love solar, and they wanted the rest of the world to love it too.
The Dashboard was already pretty appealing to energy nerds (yes, that’s a thing) but in order for the business to succeed, it needed to appeal to regular homeowners. They would need a visually enticing offering which empowered and educated users, rather than confusing them.
Enter Kickstand. The customer experience and visual design of the Solar Analytics Dashboard needed redesigning from the ground up.
We began the process by gathering feedback from both internal stakeholders and the limited customer base that had been established at that time.
While small, the customer base was vocal, and we took full advantage of their enthusiasm to participate! Surveys, co-design sessions, usability testing and face-to-face interviews helped us really understand their needs and how to address them.
One of the greatest challenges we faced was to visually transform an enormous amount of highly technical and detailed data into a form that was digestible and useful to a regular home user.
We also learned that providing data alone was not enough, we needed to give customers actionable, data driven insights. Through this the Notifications feature was born.
The feature alerted users when they had reached personalised milestones such as cumulative dollar savings or reduction in habitual energy usage.
Once we let the Data Science team loose on it, Notifications quickly expanded into highly detailed insights such as:
“Last week you purchased 35.21kWh of power from the grid to run your air conditioner during the evenings.
During the day you exported 62.44kWh of unused solar energy to the grid. To reduce your bills, consider making the most of your free solar energy by pre-heating or cooling your home during the day.”
Energy nerd or not, that’s some actionable data! And users responded with sales and engagement levels soaring.
This kind of informative and educational data was really important to Solar Analytics Dashboard users. Our research showed that making the transition from an “energy agnostic” consumer to a “solar owner” was quite a journey – with a steep learning curve. Often homeowners had made the leap into solar without fully understanding how to make the most of this significant financial investment.
Kickstand crafted a series of six Onboarding emails, automatically scheduled to coincide with particular Dashboard events. The series helped to educated new customers, not only on how to use the Dashboard, but also on how to get the most from their solar panels through load shifting, changing tariff structures, battery options and more.
Through an iterative and customer centric design process, (working with a gun development team) Kickstand crafted a new product which received great feedback from customers and solar industry peers.
The usability and visual design of the Solar Analytics Dashboard helped contribute to the 10x growth the business saw each year, over the 2 years following launch.
Perhaps more importantly, the design process itself helped the team at Solar Analytics to learn how to approach product development with empathy.
By engaging with the customer and really understanding their needs, this team of experts (MASSIVE energy nerds*) were able to put themselves in the shoes of every day folk and build a product that was super smart, easy to understand and nice to look at. Designing with empathy at its best!
* they won’t mind us saying that.