Homes that use energy supplied from fossil fuels are responsible for significant emissions of carbon dioxide, which directly contribute to global warming. Unfortunately, household energy consumption trends have been on the rise due to failed governmental approaches to reduce greenhouse gases, such as rebates and taxes.
Nudged is a user-friendly, scalable mobile application that seeks to reduce household energy consumption through the effective application of behavioral insights founded on the intersection of economic, psychological, and social principles. Built by a team of five undergraduates from the University of Chicago—for which I served as the user-interface and experience designer—it was given the Most Likely To Go Viral award in the 2019 Futures Design Challenge.
Concept and Prototype
The two primary concepts that informed the prototype's logo design originated from the challenge prompt, which involved conceptualizing a method of battling climate change as an individual. The "dandelion" concept represented the more abstract notion that individual effort begets collective action, while the "individual" concept would require a more narrative-driven approach.
The design for the prototype adapted iconography directly from the challenge webpage and incorporated the dandelion concept.
Original design (left) and adapted design (right)
The core mechanic in Nudged employs social gamification to reward users for successful reductions in household energy consumption.
Badges are earned through the collection of SPOREs—representing the kilowatt-hours of energy saved—and require progressively higher numbers of SPOREs to achieve. The option to share these badges on social media allows friends and family to support one another and garner awareness of the application. Additionally, we have allowed individuals to form teams and play against one another. This feature leverages the economic principle of herd mentality, as individual households might be motivated to imitate other households engaging in the game.
Click to view wireframe
After deciding that the prototype design involved too many features, we opted for a more minimalistic structure with a parred back functionality and color scheme. Though the badges were removed, the application maintained the SPORE scoring system which allowed for a more streamlined gamified atmosphere.
The new design adopts themes from wellness mobile applications such as FitBit, hence leveraging recognizable interfaces for smooth usage.