Nature-Action Quebec, as part of its environmental mission, sought to reduce vehicle carbon emissions by 10%. The challenge was to influence parents in the suburbs of Montreal, who are heavy vehicle users, to use active modes of transportation.
A great way to achieve this goal was to motivate children to track the family vehicle’s mileage and suggest alternative modes of active transportation. A website geared to children on which they could track the monthly mileage of the family car and measure the improvements in a tangible way, was the most efficient solution.
The user experience (UX) of the website needed to be very strong to motivate children to visit on a monthly basis. Instead of making the input of the data a boring chore, it had to be a fun experience. To achieve this, a user centric design approach was used.
A persona of a typical user was created to guide the design process.
INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE AND NAVIGATION
A very lean task based navigation was created, taking into consideration primary and secondary users of the site.
FUNCTIONALITY AND PLATFORM
Due to the need of tracking mileage for each kid and and each car, a website capable of creating user accounts and storing the data was needed. The solution chosen was to build the site on PHP with MySQL databases.
Users could at any point create a user account, login, add a car, add the mileage and make modifications. Every month, a function in the website would create an email with a summary of the statistics and send it to children and parents telling them if they were making improvements and advising them on how to change habits.
USER INTERFACE DESIGN
After conducting research about the most popular websites for the targeted age group, key design elements common to all of them were identified in order to make our site familiar to kids on their first visit. These elements were:
· Big buttons
· Very flat navigation and a limited choice of menus
· Characters such as animals and children
· Personification of objects (smiling most of the time)
· Bright colors
· Printable activity sheets (coloring, puzzles, etc.)
· Storytelling. Some sort of story line with the characters.
The first step was to create a loose wire frame of the site.
Then the main character was designed. His name and nature had to related to active transportation, so a centipede was chosen to promote walking.
The rest of the elements were designed following the same logic and illustration style. Big and descriptive icons were used site-wide to facilitate navigation.
To provide fun content for children and further educate them and create awareness about climate change, a series of printable PDFs with activities were designed.
Taking into consideration the secondary users of the site (teachers and parents), specific content was created for them addressing their needs: confidentiality of information and an explanation of the program’s objectives.
A representative from Nature-Action Québec visited schools located in the suburbs and gave a talk in each classroom explaining the program and handing out flyers and calendars. The design of these printed materials were also part of the mandate.