End-to-end app for battery specialists to buy and sell used lithium-ion (car) batteries
My role | User Research, UX/UI Design, Project Management
During my time working as a UX/UI Contractor for Titan Advanced Energy Solutions (Titan AES), my largest project was designing Battago, a B2B e-commerce platform for battery specialists to buy and sell used lithium-ion batteries.
I owned the end-to-end process from conducting user research, designing prototypes, and usability testing to delivering a market-ready solution. As the only designer, I led the design process and served as the lead communicator between software development and product teams.
The team | Software development and operations manager
Timeline | September 2020 - December 2020
Software/programs used | Adobe XD, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, MURAL
When EV batteries are discarded, they typically still have anywhere from 60% to 80% of their capacity left in them. Titan AES is a start-up based in Boston, MA that has developed ultrasound battery technology that assesses the "life" of a battery to provide a suitable second use. I was tasked with designing Battago, a mobile and web platform for battery service professionals to purchase and sell used EV batteries. Prior to Battago, used EV batteries were typically sold via eBay and other third party platforms; Battago provides a home for these transactions, paying close attention to relevant specifications and safe battery transportation regulations.
I used the framework below to guide my project. I started by discovering the potential opportunity and understanding who the users were. From there, I defined project parameters, end users, and criteria for assessment. I ideated multiple times and created a working prototype that I shared with the development team.
UNDERSTANDING THE OPPORTUNITY
Initial discovery work began by understanding understanding where this opportunity existed. I conducted phone calls and interviews to understand stakeholders. Where were they coming from? What were their needs? How would the concept of Battago fit into their day-to-day?
From this initial work, I identified a market opportunity. The opportunity stems from the idea of a circular economy - a model that allows products to be in the economy as long as possible through repurposing and refurbishing.
There is an opportunity to create a platform to buy and sell lithium-ion batteries. This provides value to car companies, battery recyclers, and material retrievers in that the platform creates a circular economy and that the batteries are sustainably used after their first life.
After identifying the opportunity, I identified three main stakeholder groups for the platform. Through calls with these groups, I defined their personalities, needs, and motivations.
DEFINING THE USERS
After assessing the research, I identified that there are two main users of the platform - purchasers and sellers.
Purchasers typically work for smaller companies, tend to be older in age, and purchase used EV car batteries for a second-use, such as alternative energy storage. Battery sellers typically work for a larger corporation and are more focused on getting the most bang for their buck, selling used car batteries.
INSIGHTS FROM RESEARCH
Based on the interviews, I identified six main insights about the target users' needs and experiences.
Both user groups don't care for bells and whistles in their browsing experience.
Both groups seek a streamlined experience.
Both users spend the majority of the work day at a computer.
All users were knowledgable in industry-standard specifications.
Users feel exhausted when they check multiple platforms in a day to buy and sell batteries.
All agreed that reliability was the #1 criteria they look out for when buying and selling batteries.
DESIGN SUCCESS METRICS
These insights were used to create design success metrics. I referred to these metrics throughout the project as a pulse-check to make sure the application was meeting the right criteria.
MAPPING JOURNEYS THROUGH BATTAGO
Prior to defining the platform's information architecture, I mapped the journey that both a buyer and seller could take while navigating through Battago. I paid close attention to the potential user interface touchpoints the user may have, as well as whether this step was a net positive or net negative experience.
Once I defined the journeys, I brainstormed the functions the platform would have. From there, I organized these functions into groups and then mapped out the information architecture.
I created low-fidelity paper wireframes to mock up what the interfaces could look like, and how they might be connected to one another. I designed the wireframes for the initial user interfaces such that a user would have multiple ways to access a product (through search and selection).
LOW FIDELITY WIREFRAMES
Using the paper wireframes, I designed low-fidelity prototypes. These prototypes allowed me to start thinking about the connections between one page to the next.
Below are some interfaces from a mid-fidelity prototype. In this prototype, I began thinking about branding and how I could implement it across the platform.
I used the low-fidelity prototypes above to conduct usability testing. I usability tested with internal employees (focusing on those who weren't working on the Battago product) as well as existing customers of Titan.
The goal with testing was to understand how the user interacted with the product - What was their journey? Did they find certain steps particularly difficult? Was there anything confusing or not making sense?
In order to assess the low-fidelity prototype, I created simple tasks as the ones below to guide users through Battago:
"Show me how you would create an account."
"Walk me through your process of uploading a battery."
“Please search for a Nissan Leaf Gen 1 battery with >60% SoH.”
Using insights gained from the usability study, I moved onto creating the final prototype.
Below is the final prototype I shared with developers. In this demo, I preview the primary functions of the application, including creating an account, browsing for batteries, and uploading batteries to the platform.
The second part of the project was designing a website to match the app. I followed a very similar process through journey mapping to website development. The website has much more functionality than the app, but I used the same principles and design elements from the app on the web platform.
Here, I designed all website elements including designing the interactive elements and writing the copy.
The website is now live, feel free to check it out at Battago.com!
This project was challenging, but incredibly rewarding!
As the only designer at a small start-up, I held a lot of responsibility. Not only was I designing Battago's app and web platform, I was also putting in place strong design processes to be replicated once I finished my year on the team.
I learned that as designers, we hold a responsibility to be advocates for the user every step of the way. It was my responsibility to ensure that the product was always being designed with the user in mind. I learned to speak up for the user, even when deadlines were tight and time was scarce.
I also learned to be resourceful. I designed Battago while still completing my undergraduate degree; there was still a lot I had to learn. I leveraged my network and online resources and learned a whole lot along the way!