To explore the basic interactions between our stakeholders and the interface.


We began by reviewing our personas and their everyday goals and tasks. We then considered a series of questions for each persona, along with any other relevant information generated during our discussion. Some questions that we considered were:

  • How is the interface being used? In what setting?
  • How frequently does the user interact with the interface?
  • What does the user need to accomplish to fulfill his/her goals?
  • Where does our interface fit in with the user's higher goals?

After generating a series of key points for each persona, we created scenarios in which the users interact with our interface in order to accomplish their tasks.


Claire Burke (Homeowner w/o Alternative Energy)

Michelle Schneider (Homeowner w/o Alternative Energy)

Raymond Taylor (Homeowner w/ Alternative Energy)

Nathan Miller (Contractor)

  • Higher goal: to provide for her family
  • Looking for quick ways to save $
  • Will be interrupted by kids/colleagues
  • Has no friends on network (does not register)
  • Read article on home efficiency, got curious about how to save quickly
  • Not so web savvy
  • Using uDecide to find quick, convenient ways to lower monthly bills
  • Struggling to make ends meet because husband is making less $ due to economy
  • Due to simple UI, she got what she wanted from the interface

Claire wakes up unhappily to an irritating alarm clock. She didn't sleep well last night because she was worried about whether she will be able to pay her rising utility bills. To make matters worse, Mike is bringing in less money at the shop due to the recent economic troubles. She gets up on this particularly cold Fall morning, makes her children's lunch, kisses her husband good-bye, and heads to work for the day.

As she enters the office, she is reminded of several pieces of unfinished business from yesterday and jumps right in to her routines at work routines. She takes breaks every now and then and catches up on several pieces of local news on One day, she comes across an interesting article about how to decrease utility bills by increasing home efficiency. Surprised by how much she could save by making fairly small changes, she decides to find out if there are any local groups or organizations that could answer some questions for her. She googles "energy efficiency Ann Arbor" and finds uDecide, a website that connects local homeowners, local contractors, and information.

The first thing that Claire notices about the site are the simple and clear steps at the top of the page. She appreciates how easily it guides her, step by step, through the website. Claire skims through the introduction paragraph as she doesn't have much patience. A window pops up and asks her to enter a budget range for the home improvement. Claire clicks on the range $0-$100. An interactive house is then displayed in black and white with clickable areas in color. As she clicks on different objects in the house, she learns about the information on cost and payback. She clicks on the lighbulb inside the bedroom and found out that it has the least cost with the shortest breakeven time. She then browses through the reviews, jots down the place where she can purchase the product, and leaves the site in under 5 minutes.

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  • Higher goal: live healthy, sustainable life style while being able to support the best possible education for kids
  • Has more free time, could spend a lot of time on the website, uninterrupted
  • Heard about the website from friends a couple months
  • Has several friends in network
  • Surfs internet for info on AE/efficiency, self-sustainability
  • Liked process inherent in global nav & systematic "steps" in user projects
  • More web savvy; able to access site to greater depth (fill out forms, share, network)
  • Communicates with others to find more ways to be sustainable

It's 6:30 in the morning and Michelle has just returned from watering her vegetable garden. She rushes out the door and heads to work.

After checking her email at the office, she visits the uDecide website to check her profile. Since her positive experience with the tankless water heater at home, she has been using uDecide more and more frequently. The interaction with the green community in her neighborhood has led her to start considering bigger opportunities to develop a more self-sustainable lifestyle. And now that she has progressed in her member status, she has been become even more excited about participating in the uDecide community. She currently has 8 friends in her network, and she frequently talks to Ray.

There are two things she does before anything on the website: she checks her profile for new messages or feedback and shares news articles that she feels other people on uDecide would enjoy. She logs in and is taken to her Profile page to see if anyone has left her feedback. She then goes to the SHARE page and uploads the link to a news article about wind turbine technology that she found particularly interesting.

Today she wants to learn more about solar panels because she found out that the government has just announced a new incentive available to homeowners. She clicks on the HOME button to view the interactive house on which you can explore various energy efficient and alternative energy products. She sees a solar panel on the roof and clicks on that. A box appears with some cost and payback information for solar panels. She then clicks on the "learn more" button. The page has loaded with a Google map with a list of homeowners who have registered on uDecide and have written about a project with solar panels.

Conveniently, the contact list is sorted by who lives closest to her. "Ray seems to live closest to me. Let's see what he has done with his solar panels."

After seeing the pictures of his solar installation and the steps that he took, Michelle decides that she likes what she sees and wants to learn more about his project in person. She leaves a comment on his profile and gives his walkthrough a positive rating. Before she logs out, she goes to the ACT page to see how many contractors are available in the local area. A total of four contractors are found on the map. She remembers that Ron has hired CYAEnergy for his solar panels.

"Let's see how people rated him. 4 stars out of 5. Pretty decent. Let's see what kinds of discounts he's offering right now."

She picks up her phone to call them.

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  • Higher goal: to reach as many people as possible with self-sustainability ethos, lists the projects on his own farm in detail & encourages others to do so as well & come visit his farm
  • Heard about the uDecide via word of mouth because he is well-connected to local AE/sustainability community
  • Because he's so devoted to the philosophy, he goes out of his way to spend time on the web and represent AE community, w/o interruptions
  • Lots of networking & friends on the web, he's the "superuser" on the web/one of the most active users
  • Uses lots of other web resources. A reason that he uses uDecide is that it is focused on local community and actionable steps
  • Is comfortable navigating web & really appreciates simplicity in uDecide

After coming home from work one afternoon, Raymond goes to the computer to check his e-mail and sees a new message from the Clinton Township's Building Department. He opens it up and finds out that they have accepted his proposal to put up a wind power turbine on his farm. Excited to share this with the local green community, he logs onto uDecide and updates his "Ongoing Projects" with the good news.

He finishes updating his Wind Turbine project, clicks on the Submit Changes, and turns his attention to the New Members section. There are four new users who registered today. Before Ray has a chance to send them welcoming messages, he sees an incoming chat request from Edwin, the local rep of Bergey Windpower. "Perfect timing," he thinks to himself as he accepts the request.

Edwin congratulates him on the exciting news, and asks him if he is ready to proceed with the order of a 5-kilowatt wind turbine. "Yes, I would like to go ahead with the order now. I am surprised that you read my article so soon after I posted it, though," Ray responds. Edwin informs him that he follows all his clients' profiles on uDecide and gets notifications when they make changes to any of their projects. Edwin then asks him for the measurements of the concrete slab that he intends to mount the wind turbine on. "I can get those for you now," Ray tells him, sliding his chair back from the desk and standing up.

Ray walks over to the concrete slab that will be the future location of his farm's wind power turbine. He takes the measurements and finds that the concrete slab is large enough for the wind turbine. As he's heading back to the house, he passes by the pavilion that he built for visitors. It reminds him of the upcoming tour of his farm that he organized on uDecide's Local Events page. There are 17 people registered for the event so far, and he hopes that more sign up over before Saturday.

He gets back to the computer and sees that Edwin is no longer online, but sent him a message saying he had to go to meet with a client, and to just message him with the measurements. He will send an e-mail confirming everything before he orders the turbine. Ray goes on to leave messages for the newly registered members of the website, welcoming them and inviting them to ask him any questions they may have. He gives them a few pointers about using the website, and then invites them to the tour he's having at his farm. He notices the "New Comment" indicator and reads a comment that was left on his Solar Panels project by somebody who apparently lives just a couple miles down the road from him and is interested in a solar photovoltaic system of his own. After spending another 20 minutes checking various other projects of interest, Ray signs out of uDecide.

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  • Higher goal: get more business, decrease national energy dependency
  • Wants more business and clients
  • Uses website to list services & previous projects, view competition, acts as local resource, approaches potential client
  • Daily use of uDecide, believes networking is important
  • Interruptions are when he is out in the field & cannot access the website, although he does get alerts via email
  • Network consists of other contractors, past clients & superusers (AE community leaders online)
  • Other resources he uses online: AE periodicals, government incentives, technology reviews, sites listing
  • Contributes a lot of solar tech info, reviews, projects done, and basic tutorials
  • Web savvy, easily capable of learning website, learned about website from his client who saw his business rated on there

Nathan Miller glides into his office, pours a cup of coffee, and sits at his desk to begin his day. The first thing he does is read the new articles at, a blog about sustainability. He has to prepare his truck for an installation today, but the first thing he does every day is check his email. Even when he is out of the office, he checks his email using his iPhone. Typically, his email includes reminders from his wife to stop by the store, questions from clients, and various notifications from uDecide, a website he discovered a few months ago...

One hot summer day, after a typical solar panel installation, Nathan asked his client where he found out about his business. "uDecide. I saw a few positive reviews about your business and I thought I'd give it a shot," said the client. Unaware of uDecide, Nathan went to the site and discovered that he had four positive reviews, the first online reviews of his business that he had ever seen. Along with the reviews, he saw that there was also a small profile about his business: the name, address, and phone number. It also displayed that he was a solar contractor. He wanted to add more information to his profile, so he clicked on the prominent "Join Now" link and began editing the already existing profile of his business. He began small by adding another phone number and uploading some pictures of his installations.

It is now Fall, and Nathan has already noticed an increase in interest from potential clients. He attributes this to a few things: previous clients have added the step-by-step instructions that they followed to install solar panels, which link to Nathan's profile; he informs potential clients about his business by participating in product discussions e.g. how to perform basic maintenance on a photovoltaic system; he answers questions from potential clients whenever he can; he listed all of his services in his profile and has uploaded more pictures of his installations.

Nathan also uses uDecide to view what his competitors provide in terms of services, products, and incentives. Nathan attempts to outdo his competitors by offering better coupons and participating in more discussions with potential clients. However, he also participates in discussion with other contractors and has even considered collaborating with other contractors that provide similar services.

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  • Mid-fi Protoype