We recently had a team of aspiring UX researches at Green Coding Berlin that made a research project on how the Green Metrics Tool can be used.
This is a guest article with their results
The growth in data traffic (MB) and usage of computers (%) results in global concern about its power consumption (Kwh). This can be translated into quantitative values to evaluate our Carbon Footprint (CO2 emissions) and the energy that we consume (kW). This is how we approach Green Coding and its Green Metrics Tool. With very enthusiastic research, we started to dig into the issue and try to find some solutions for sustainability and awareness by understanding the numbers and measurements in relationship with our tech behavior.
The Green Metrics Tool is a software developed by Arne Tarara and his team of developers that measures the digital carbon footprint of web pages and software. The Green Metrics Tool is Open Source, which means that everyone can see the code of the software and get an insight into it. This tool enables the calculation of emissions and energy usage.
We were introduced to very different (and new) topics and challenges as a starting point, to tackle them as UX/UI Design researchers. Combining the development of old and new pages inside the website, creating a valuable language, easing the usability of their tool, and understanding the user flow were some of the needs of Green Coding. Among all this, it became a challenge for us to engage in the research of a topic that came to us suddenly as surprisingly new. To encounter the world of Green Coding and to get to know their philosophy and commitment to an issue that we initially thought was completely misaligned from us. Is there a way to assume a Green Tech behavior in our daily life and our craft in the digital?
We needed some backup from other points of view, so we created a survey to get closer to the opinion of a diverse group of people, mostly enthusiasts, who are interested in reducing their CO2 emissions. The field of study was broad and without defining demographics.
*The Likert Scale is a rating scale (from 1 to 10) used to question a person on their level of agreement (10) or disagreement (1) with a statement. It is ideal for measuring a person’s reactions, attitudes and behaviours.
We could conclude from insights from the survey on the following numbers and assumptions:
96% of our interviewees are interested in controlling their carbon footprint but do not use any method. Users feel very uncomfortable with co2 emissions produced by the internet and software (84%). Users have a low awareness (25%) of their carbon footprint. There are no highly informed users.
The results of the survey together with our research on the subject, lead us to our problem and hypothesis statement.
People need a way to become self-conscious about their CO2 emissions coming from Software and Website usage because they want to find a way to reduce their contribution to it.
We believe that by making people self-conscious we will achieve our goal to make the user able to use the Green Coding tools. We will know that we are right when people start using Green Metrics Tool.
But how do we make people self-conscious? and how do we make the user able to use the Green Metrics Tool? We define some strategies:
The growing energy use of the Internet surpasses already the energy that all wind and solar power sources worldwide can provide. According to Solar Low-Tech Magazine ‘Running data centers on renewable power sources is not enough to address the growing energy use of the Internet’. Plus, ‘We were told that the Internet would ‘dematerialize’ society and decrease energy use. Contrary to this projection, it has become a large and rapidly growing consumer of energy itself.’
To align our design decisions to the issue, we decided to dig into the possibilities of reducing the sizes of websites, to generate content that would not become increasingly resource-intensive and have an efficient experience that will decrease the high demand on data traffic (Mb).
The growing importance of videos, which became a trend nowadays, makes the website excessively demanding and heavy.
We wanted to add ethical coordinates such as accessibility, security, sustainability, and reliability; and focus on a layout based on information, readable content, but also fun and self-explaining. The organization of color and graphics becomes very important for the display of content. The amount of information must be delivered logically and predictably. Duotone, black and white contrast, and console design are chosen for usability and as a particular taxonomy that speaks about the product, and still engange a good relationship with the interface and making it functional. We try to reduce the cognitive load of choices, show the info I need to know first, show examples of content, organized by tasks, responsive and scalable, and with possibilities to expand the content in the future.
We defined our user persona, as a 32 years guy that is starting his career as a web developer named Joao. Joao wants to be able to reduce the damage that he does to the environment by working in tech but feels frustrated about not knowing which tools or methods are inside his range of action. He heard about Green Coding and would like to get to know about them and How it works so he can be able to use the Green Metrics Tool and support the cause.
From here, Joao will approach the website by the following flow:
View the MVP Prototype of the Green Coding website and follow Joao’s User Flow (not suitable for smartphones)