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Project Overview

Spring 2022

Mia Hofmann, Raga Kavari, Jiaqi Wang, Yufeng Zhao

My Role: 
Designer, Researcher

4 weeks

Initial Research | Stakeholder Mapping & Value Flow | Voice & Tone

For this project, we were tasked to design a native mobile app for our client, ‘WindStax Energy,’ a Pittsburgh-based full-service developer of integrated alternative energy solutions.

Through conducting various research, we identified our focus on leveraging the capabilities of smartphones through the lens of improving maintenance processes and management for microgrid operators.

That’s how WindStax Go is created, a smart wind farm magagement tool on the go.

Initial Research 

To focus on how we can improve the existing service, our team conducted various domain and company research.

We worked to created a full research report highlighting important factors like company goals, target audience, identified needs for the product, and constraints within the given domain. You can check it out here: 

Full Report

Below are some highlights from our research:


WindStax Energy is a full-service developer of integrated alternative energy solutions. The company is a pioneer in large vertical wind turbines and microgrids

Company Goals

Windstax's goal is not just to be a company that produces wind turbines but also to develop a green energy power management system. By operating a green energy power management system, Windstax can maintain complete control over the energy collected through their turbines. In addition, they are responsible for capturing, storing, and managing this energy for the homes and businesses that they serve.


Windstax had actively collaborated with local government, civic organizations, non-profit community development organizations such as River life and Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.
Need for the Product

As an alternative energy source, wind turbines provide a cleaner, emission- free solution to existing nonrenewable energy sources. Because it reduces the use and cost of electricity generation from fossil fuels, wind turbines are able to reduce air pollution and CO2 emissions while potentially acting as a primary source of power that is clean, sustainable, cost-effective, and domestically-sourced.

Furthermore, unlike traditional turbines, Windstax turbines are

Constraints Within the Domain

Windstax turbines have weather-related constraints: factors like elevation above sea level, temperature, wind density, and barometric pressure affect output. In addition, wind speed heavily determines power generated. Other constraints include cost: WindStax requires an expensive, up-front investment ranging from 19 to 34k (not including delivery, installation, microgrid, etc.)

Stakeholder Mapping

Based on the research insights, we are ready to congregated a stakeholder map. We started with generating a very broad list of stakeholders and defined their goals, needs, preferences, and attributes.

From the stakeholders list, we congregated one stakeholder map that shows how different stakeholders interact currently and how value is exchanged among them. Zooming out to the bigger picture, we categorized them into three main roles-clients, Windstax, and the third party, each containing subgroups.

We discovered new design opportunities among wind farm operators, technicians, and engineers. as we found the value flow of knowledge and experience among them very intriguing. To maintain the wind farm optimally, the knowledge circulation among the three stakeholders is crucial yet full of obstacles.

Design Brief

Our research informed our assumption that existing windfarm/ microgrid management software tends to be visually complex and restricted to desktops. Therefore, for our design brief, we decided to focus on the struggle of using existing software from the perspective of a wind farm operator who cares that their farm is well-performing. To phrase it in the words of the targeted user:

“ When I run my microgrid, I struggle to manage wind turbines through the existing software.

Help me make sure my wind farm is operating optimally, so that I can get the most out of my investment. “

Voice and Tone

UX Magazine’s article ‘Tone and Voice: Showing Your Users that You Care’ helped our team narrow down on the intangible and unarticulated guides to direct our design decisions. Because we intend to create an app that provides clarity, ease of use, and is informational, we finalized that the app should lean more towards a serious and respectful but casual and enthusiastic tone.

Low-Fidelity Prototyping

With the insights from our initial research, stakeholder mapping, and design brief, we established our goals for our app. We wanted to create a mobile app that would serve as an extension of the desktop software that wind farm and microgrid operators traditionally use. The mobile app would let users not feel restricted to their desk and enable them to venture outside to check on the turbines. We decided that the mobile app would optimize the users’ experience by including useful data-driven features.

  1. A customizable home page with widgets on turbine and solar panel performance.

  2. A map view of the farm/grid which highlights poorly performing turbine.

  3.  An initial issue detection report on potentially malfunctioning turbine.

  4. A diagnosis tool where users can upload data to confirm what the issue is and to get a recommendation on how to address it.

Mid-Fidelity Prototyping

In our mid-fidelity prototype, we revised the typographic form on some screens and revised the diagnosis tool based on peer feedback. Here are new adjustments in our flow:

Home Page:

We changed the name into “Performance” to better represent the info presented on this page. Changes to the composition were made to make the typographic hierarchy support the structure
of the content. In addition, problem area became accessible on this page in a notification form.


To provide a more informative map view, we replaced the binary form of problem indication with an analog one. Now users can know which wind turbine is under-performing and by how much comparing to the rest.

Diagnosis Tool:

In addition to providing the action needed, we added a statistic of this problem’s occurrence frequency, a difficulty level tag, and an explanation of a diagnosis showing why the action is important.


During the group feedback sessions, we realized that people had trouble understanding how to navigate through different screens. Our peers suggested to reduce the complexity of the navigation bar and make it clear what each tab is for.

The Next step is to improve the typographical form through the use of color. We wanted the map view to be as informative as possible while still maintaining the simplicity

High-Fidelity Prototyping

In our hi-fidelity prototype, we refined our visual deisgn and incorporated more details regarding the data display and flows.


In addition to performance data straight from the turbines, we incorporated synthesized and ambient data that are crucial to users daily decision making, such as available energy in case of outage and weather data.


While maintaining our analog performance indicators, we implemented a consistent color coding for different types of facilities. Detailed information of each facility is visualized in the popup cards or as AR elements in navigation view.

Diagnosis Tool:

To better inform users about the rationale behind the AI diagnosis, we visualized the correlation among the existing users and technical advise related to the issue. We also fleshed out a sample tutorial with 3d animated instruction to better illustrate our design decision.

Final Mobile Service Design

I. Overview Data

II. Locate Problems

III. Maintain Facilities

I. Overview Data

Overview the Wind Farm Status

Overview shows only what the users care about on their wind farms. The page is composed of customizable data widgets, presenting a hybrid of past, current, and projected future data.

While adding a data widget to overview, users are given the freedom to choose the subject, the data type, the granularity, and where to put the them. Critical data widgets to users’s everyday operation can be pinned to the top, such as weather and power outage information.

Projected data is incorporated into the data plot as dashed lines, giving the user a clear hint about which data points are ground truth or prediction.

II. Locate Problems

Locate the Wind Turbines

We simplified the data overlay on each turbine to reduce the overall visual complexity. The performance bar is moved out from the turbine icon to the side, while still being visually comparable among multiple turbines.

The multi-modal navigation is carried from previous iterations while providing a improved UI interface for AR navigation.

III. Maintain Facilities

Maintain Facilities via Diagnosis

The diagnosis process can be entered from any preactive warning notification or a intentional diagnosis by the users from the detail page of any piece of facilities.

We optimized the visual hierarchy for diagnosis launching page to leverage our 3D representation of the wind turbine. The predicted problem area is highlighted on the 3D model waiting for further investigation via tapping.

Based on the supplementary material, the diagnosed fix has three levels. Wind farm owners have many ways to address the potential malfunction, including a 3D animated tutorials, a video calls to real technician, or an on-site visit from the technician.

Once the process of diagnosis, repairing, or scheduling is done, the maintain page gives you an overview of all the past and current issues and the progress.