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Knowledge Foundation Sustainable Building

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Knowledge Foundation Sustainable Building



UX Design, UI Design, Facilitation


Deutsche Gesellschaft für Nachhaltiges Bauen – DGNB e.V.



About this project

The German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB Deutsche Gesellschaft für Nachhaltiges Bauen) is an association with the goal to support sustainable building in order to decrease the negative effects that building and living have on the environment.

A huge part of this is providing the information and knowledge needed to act accordingly. To name only some topics that are relevant in this regard: The use of reusable and/or recycled building materials as well as concepts, materials and technologies that reduce energy consumption both in the finished building but also during the building phase.

The goal of this specific project was to create a digital hub where interested parties can find and share these kind of information – always with a clear focus on their quality and trustworthiness.

The DGNB hired me to fascilitate the workshops in the early stages of the project. After doing so I also provided them with some first ideas for the product in the form of high-fidelity screens.

Preview of the proposal for the design and information architecture.

Alignment on the goals

The first thing I like to do with all of my clients is to get alignment on the outcomes. In this case I facilitated a small exercise where I asked the participants to collect their thoughts on the question "What does success look like?". This was done one by one on sticky-notes that were later read out to the team, collected on the wall and sorted into categories. This is a good start to see were there is or isn't alignment as well as to dig deeper into some topics (Can we specify this goal? How will we know we reached this goal? Are there metrics that will help with deciding that?).

Kick-off exercise: What does success look like?

Creating proto personas

After we got clearity on the goals of the association we moved to the target audience. The business outcomes are generally deeply linked to the needs and targeted outcomes of the customers. So it is usually not a long shot from this first step to the next. There are different excercises that can help with getting the assumptions and knowledge around the target audience on the table – like user journeys, empathy maps or proto-personas. No matter which one I choose at this stage (in which we are not looking at actual research findings), I make sure to emphasise that we are talking about assumptions and not facts. Even though a lot of these assumptions might be based on actual data. In this project I decided to create some proto-personas for the different user groups we agreed on (created based on their needs). We created them in smaller groups, presented them to each other and made adjutsments together.

At the end of the day we had alignment on the outcomes we wanted to create for the association (which are deeply linked to the outcomes to be created for the environment) as well as for the users and we also had a better picture of our assumptions around the needs and characteristics of our target audience.

Proto-personas created during the kick-off Workshop.

Ideation & concept workshop

With that we moved into a second small workshop were we put an emphasis on the solution overall and also the different features of our product that we assumed would result in the outcomes we aggreed on. In this workshop we first reviewed the personas, then looked at some education platforms to gain inspiration from and lastly discussed and sketched out ideas for a possible solution.

Quick sketches from the ideation workshop.

UI Design: A mobile first proposal for the product

As already hinted at in the introduction, I also created a proposal for the solution in the form of a view mobile screens. Even though this was not planned at the beginning of the project, we all felt like that could help the team to move quickly to developing a first version of the product. The timeline for that was very tight so we decided to work with our assumptions and forgo doing user research. This also means that I only spend a view hours creating the UI Design. Just enough to be able to hand this over to the developer to make decissions around the implementation of it.

Overview of the proposal for the design and information architecture.

Why I loved working on this project

After that my part in the project was done. I am so happy that I was invited to contribute in this endeavour! Especially because it fits in perfectly with my personal goal to focus on figuring out ways to practice Life-centered Design and to bring the needs of our environment into the design process. Our environment often does not have a voice in the product or service design process and I think that needs to change! I would generally say that we designers need to be the representatives of those needs. In this project though there was no need for that. The needs of the environment are already deeply linked with the goals and vision of the DGNB. So it was a wonderful opportunity for me to listen, learn and grow and I want to say thank you for this opportunity!

The homescreen.

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