During the Living Roadmap project, we capitalised on the ever-growing popularity and socio-economic trend of users wanting to become more environmentally friendly by going 'green' and becoming energy efficient which, during the past few years, has become one of the most important trends and movements around the world. With Tesla’s electric cars, Apple's iPhone dismantling robot Liam and a rise in energy-conscious decisions such as the selling of solar panels, it is clear that large companies are profiting and capitalising upon this trend fuelling its presence even further. To fulfil the needs and criteria, we followed several ongoing trends and movements in fields ranging from economy, technology, society and behavioural, the first being the choice of the platform itself.
Initially we wanted to create a web-based solution, similar to that of the Smart City website, but as we continued with the project, it became apparent that the users would be more inclined to use a mobile-based approach as we could make use of the smartphones and its unique functions, such as notifications, camera app and the benefit of always having it within reach. It seemed logical to follow the current trend of mobile apps rather than creating a website as a website does not have the sense of engagement as an app would (although a recent report from Adobe Digital Insights shows that users are becoming increasingly less enamoured with apps as a medium with the total amount of apps downloaded and usage rapidly dropping. However, Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) has seen a tremendous increase in use, which is something to take into consideration for future plans).
Another significant ongoing social and economic trend is the rise of collective initiatives such as “public benefits”, “crowdfunding” and open source projects. Therefore, we decided to approach the project in a way that would be inviting, promote creativity and would allow people to take part in projects that would benefit the energy transition and inspire innovation within Amsterdam. Whereas Smart City was made to showcase projects almost as a portfolio site, we designed the Living Roadmap app from ground up with the notion of being socially based and enabling the community to work together and thrive. To do so, we made several design decisions. The first being to prominently display the apps profile feature which allows the user to join or be automatically selected for projects based upon their skill set and interests. Whereas on Smart City the function of joining a project is not possible through the website. We wanted our users to be able to contribute effortlessly and help a project succeed. To encourage users and have them feel more involved with the projects and initiatives, we made it possible for them to be able to view other members profiles (to a certain extent), invite their friends and also to be automatically notified about the progression of projects they follow and receive updates and notifications.
To further improve upon the project and the outcome, I would like to make the app more playful and engaging by adding various features using gamification that we simply did not have the time or scope to apply. These being a more refined badge system in which the user earns points based upon their activity and project updates. Using these points, the user can purchase digital and physical items that could help the project progress such as tools, workspaces, discounts or even basic marketing via the app. Another gamification concept that we had, and that I would like to have worked on, would be to add a narrative aspect to the entire experience. The user taking the role of a character tasked to help defeat the evil dragon symbolised as the energy crisis. All in all, I am happy in how the project came together with the inclusion of the various trends.