🍃 Shift industrial designers' material selections greener
01 | Here and Now, Sustainability!
Not to anyone's surprise, research has shown that consumers are more likely to buy products that are environmentally friendly. People's environmental awareness has influenced many business decisions.
02 | So How? - Ideation
03 | Know Your Users 👩🏻💻
So - industrial design students. Who are they? What user characteristics do they have? We did our first round of preliminary research and concluded that they are
students pursuing a career path in industrial design
intrinsically motivated to design more sustainable products
people with a high technological affinity
college or graduate students with possibly limited financial resources
04 | Existing products
We want to know how do industrial designers choose materials. What material properties do they consider, where do such products fit into their design process. We can also learn the interface our users are already used to.
We found five existing products that industrial designers use to choose materials.
ARrchiCAD EcoDesigner STAR
MatWeb Online Materials Database
All of those products have great features we can learn from - allowing users to import datasets to make the app extensible; displaying example products to inspire designers.
However, none of them address the immediate need to make it easy to switch to greener materials or discover new sustainable products. The most common flaws among them are low usability and the lack of comparison between materials.
05 | Find Out What They Want - User Research & Insights
Key findings from the affinity map
06 | Visual Design 🎨
07 | User Flow 🤓
05 | User Flo
2. Adding materials to "My Materials" Library
3. Viewing sustainable substitutes for materials
4. Compare properties of one or more materials
5. Acquiring samples
08 | Interactive Prototype
09 | Design Evaluation
Moderated Usability Testing
Usability testing is essential to our iterative design process. It helps us identify any user flows that are confusing to new users, and expose any blind spots of designers.
4 industrial design students
Ask participants to think aloud when they explore the user flows
Take notes of any user behavior that we did not expect.
Ask follow-up questions based on participants' comments on the product
Ask participants to rate or comment on their overall experience with the pro
10 | Takeaways
In this project, I learned how to do user research in a field outside of my comfort zone - industrial design. In hindsight, this unfamiliarity makes me completely open to users' data and feedback and flexible in my design. Teammates' perspectives also become rocks that I can bounce ideas. I enjoyed being open to every design possibility through each iteration process! 🎉