Flo App Redesign
Promoting a greener way of charging Electric Vehicles at home
Student Project
May-June 2022
Role: Research, Ideation, Mid-Fi Design and Testing
To comply with my non-disclosure agreement, I have omitted and obfuscated confidential information in this case study. All information in this case study is my own and does not necessarily reflect the views of FLO.
In the context of the Concordia University UX Certificate I completed in 2022, we were given the opportunity to consult on a real client project by redesigning one interaction in the existing application.
FLO is a company that provides home and public chargers for Electric Vehicles (EV). For this project, our team was to redesign the Smart Charging feature for the home charging station.
Currently, the FLO application allows users who own a FLO Smart Charger (called the X5 charger) at home, to establish a charge schedule. This feature was designed many years ago with little input from users, many of whom were not taking advantage of this feature
We also identified adoption rate of the feature as a business metric to track as we saw in it an opportunity to align with the 5-year business plan that was shared with us. Additionally, it is an opportunity to help justify the charger's higher price point. 

What are the benefits of setting a schedule? 
Taking advantage of off-peak hours electricity rate can help save on electricity costs and relieve demand on the grid. The advantage is both financial and environmental for the user and the utility companies.
Our team was composed of my classmate Kevin and myself. With my background in research and his in product development, we worked hand in hand throughout each stage of the process to grow our UX skills together. 
The project took place over a 6-week period, starting with a kickoff session with the client where each group in the class had the opportunity to ask two questions. At the end, we presented our solution to the class and to the FLO design team for valuable feedback. 

After familiarizing ourselves with the needs of our users and their charging habits through online and internal documentation, we created a persona to summarize our research findings. We also drew a user story to understand what some EV owners currently do to save up on electricity during off-peak hours, as well a journey map of a user purchasing a new EV charger.

Our target users were EV drivers who own a FLO charger. To get to know our user persona, we scanned forums and read reports to understand the attributes, needs and motivations of our users. Currently, the dominating demographic in the electric vehicle market are upper-middle-class middle-aged men who own an EV for the long term financial and environmental benefits. Although it was important to keep in mind that with the future democratization of EVs, the age, gender and socio-economic status of buyers is likely to normalize in the next 10 years.
Research provided by FLO and additional online sources showed that the perceived cost of setting up a schedule charge didn’t currently outweigh the benefits:
1. Usability barriers in the current design
2. Financial incentive is minimal
3. Current design doesn’t match the expectation of what a Smart Charger should do: the idea of charge “optimization” was of particular interest in the usability test as well as in academic research papers analyzing the charging needs of future EV owners. 
4. A need to educate and guide the user who isn’t familiar with the benefits of using off-peak electricity and technical jargon
5. A need for reassurance that the battery won’t overcharge and that the battery will be charged when needed

FLO's current design has some usability shortcomings: the schedule feature is hard to find, setting up the hours when it is not charging is confusing, additional settings like voltage intensity and seasonal changes are too savvy and can scare away some users. 

We conducted competitive analysis to understand how competitors were meeting these needs and what they were missing.

We formulate a series of How Might We (HMW) questions in order to prepare our brainstorming session.

With our research insights in hand and after exploring the main competitor's solutions, we formulated a set of HMW questions to help us prime our ideation phase, as we settle on reframing the problem statement as: ​​​​​​​
How might we allow users to take advantage of what a smart charger has to offer while providing an easy to set up, intelligible and reliable charging experience?
During the ideation step, we brainstormed using a crazy 8 exercise that yielded some initial ideas for our design. We tested our design with our classmates after drafting a first low-fidelity version. This allowed us to improve the design mostly by guiding the user more and providing benchmarks, as the information was still too technical for the common user. After prototyping the mid-fi version, user testing helped us tweak some UI elements and lead to adding the savings metric to provide an additional incentive.
Our final solution focused on those main elements: 

1. Taking advantage of the onboarding momentum for new users to drive adoption
2. The user is only required to enter 3 information to set up the optimization. They revolve around reassuring that the battery will be charged when needed and not overcharge. We also provided an estimation of the off-peak electricity rates based on location.
3. Emphasizing “Optimization” as opposed to “Scheduling” to let the user know that the charger will automatically identify what the best charging hours are based on the information provided by the user.
4. Providing a benchmark and additional information throughout as an educational and assistance tool (ex: “most users set their battery to charge at 80%” or “what are off-peak hours?”)
5. Showing estimated savings as a mean of reward and tracking. To drive adoption in the current user base who don't set a schedule, showing that their savings will display if they toggle to the "Optimized" setting.
Our solution was overall very well received by the client. The design itself was deemed viable and solid, the main concern being implementation as it would require a significant amount of resources to set up the technology that would be able to automatically optimize the charge. This was a big learning as in a real-world setting, we would have had a design brief stage with various FLO stakeholders to discuss the magnitude of resources needed to implement this solution prior to creating a prototype. The interest in optimization would also have to be thoroughly tested with current users in order to move forward with the redesign. It is undeniable that as we move forward, “smart” technology is expected to guide the user and meet their need with minimal effort, so an early display of such technology could help the brand set itself apart from competitors.

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