Why User-oriented Design Matters For Conservation Products
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Imagine a water saving shower head. It seems to have everything a water saving shower head needs: 1.5 gallon per minute (gpm) flow rate with a pressure compensating, non-removable flow controller. On paper, installing this shower head will keep water use substantially lower than a standard flow 2.5 gpm shower head. But once a customer has the shower head installed, how do you make sure it stays installed?
Our answer: design a water saving shower head that the customer won’t want to remove. After all, it’s people, not shower heads, who conserve resources. Because behavior drives conservation, if you want to make a water saving shower head, you need to make a water saving shower head that people want to use.
There are a few design principles that we keep in mind to achieve that goal of making a user-oriented conservation product. Remember that the amount of resources used doesn’t necessarily relate to the quality of the experience. A car that gets 30 miles to a gallon isn’t necessarily worse to drive than a car that gets 20 miles to a gallon, and it’s the same for shower heads: an eco-friendly shower head doesn’t have to mean a worse bad shower.
That said, less water can make for a weak-feeling shower, and the design of the shower head should address that problem. For our shower heads, we use aeration (introducing air into the stream) so that the stream feels impactful even though it uses less water. We also use quality flow controllers that help get a steady, even stream. Our shower heads also variously include other features such as easy cleaning for hard water, or massage settings, that make for a better experience.