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I did the UX design for Brighter Planet

I am thrilled to announce that the new Brighter Planet website is now live and in beta.

I am proud to have been the user experience designer on this project, blessed with the opportunity to work with an amazing Happy Cog team: Jeffrey Zeldman, creative director; Erin Kissane, content strategist; Naz Hamid, designer; Aaron Gustafson, front-end developer; and Kelly McCarthy, project manager. Best of all, the folks at Brighter Planet (in particular Adam Rubin and Andy Rossmeissl) were incredible to work for and endlessly inspirational. You couldn’t ask for better clients.

Together we created a social networking site for people who care about the environment. The goal was to help people learn how to be more eco-conscious without making them feel guilty. Our target audience is the casual environmentalist — everyday moms, young professionals, students, small business owners — people who want to make a change, but who aren’t realistically going to alter their entire lifestyle.

The Brighter Planet website was the first project I worked on after going independent in which I was able to use my full-blown user experience process: Stakeholder interviews -> User interviews -> Personas -> Scenarios -> Features -> Schematics -> Wireframes. I believe that the outcome shows the value of the process.

I sincerely hope you like what you see and learn some useful info on how to be better to the planet.

Homepage (unrecognized users)


Once a user signs up they can calculate their carbon footprint, learn how to conserve, and purchase offsets

Sign Up


The signup process is easy breezy

Your Footprint


There are lots of components to an accurate carbon footprint, and this is the easiest one on the web

Conservation Tip


Here’s what one conversation tip looks like

Complete a Tip


When you mark that you’ve done this, you can rate it and say how

My Profile


Show the world the steps you’re taking towards being a better citizen

Profile Banner


Some of my favorite people are already on it!

So what are you waiting for? Check out the Brighter Planet beta now, add me as your friend, and let me know your thoughts here in the comments!

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  • http://twitter.com/ajkandy A.J. Kandy

    Very nice, Whitney! Very clean and easy to use. More pleasure, less pain!

    Some thoughts:

    The “tips” structure reminds me somewhat of Akoha Missions (akoha.com) – there's some good potential for crossover there maybe?

    Odd thing I noticed: if I select “I don't drive” it still asks me “how far I drive it.”

    Also, is this designed for US residents only? It's not clear if postal codes work (vs zip codes) and the measurements are all in Imperial.

  • jamesdeer

    Great job Whitney! :)

  • http://www.ianwilker.com iwilker

    @Whitney – I'm Ian, Brighter Planet's community daemon (or something). Sure wish I'd been able to participate in the design process — would have been so cool to work on something with you and the rest of the Cog crew, but I came aboard too late to take part. (Almost worked it out with Jeff and Greg Hoy to do this site a few years back, but to my undying frustration my side couldn't get our act together on funding.) In any case it's not too bad simply enjoying the fruit of all the love you and the rest of the team put into the site.

    Adam would no doubt have dropped by here already, but he's on a much-needed vacation this week. Thanks for writing about the site, and for so enthusiastically tweeting about it over the last few days!

    @A.J. – re Akoha: now that's a razor-sharp bit of insight. :-) Our CTO (the aforementioned Adam) really, really likes Akoha; lots of thinking underway along the lines you suggest.

    And thanks for reporting on “how far I drive” — known issue; we're working on it. As for supporting non-U.S. residents: we had to start this way, but internationalization is something we're looking at (and a lot of users want it — we're listening.)

    • http://www.whitneyhess.com/blog Whitney Hess

      Ian, thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment. You're doing a stellar job as Brighter Planet's community manager, really embodying everything that they're about. As a user experience designer, it's a true pleasure for me to see.

      Keep up the awesome work, and stay in touch!

      • http://www.ianwilker.com iwilker

        Thanks, Whitney! And I'm @iwilker; been following your tweetstream for a good long while.

        cheers! – Ian

  • http://www.gracepointafterfive.com/ Kevan

    Hey Whitney, Great job. You're lucky to have had the time and trust from management to go through your full-blown user experience process: Stakeholder interviews -> User interviews -> Personas -> Scenarios -> Features -> Schematics -> Wireframes. I find myself having to push through a lot of these and not give these steps the full treatment they deserve, especially when deadlines are at stake and there's a strong push from folks to get the product to the market.

    Would love to see what some of those interim steps looked like for you.

    You done good on this one. Cheers

    • http://www.whitneyhess.com/blog Whitney Hess

      Thanks, Kevan. You're right, sticking to process can be tough under pressure. But I plan for it in the schedule from the very beginning. I'll write a blog post more about it one of these days :)

  • namho

    Great job. It's nice to see “full process” being adopted.

    I still get the sense that non-profits may actually value the full process (which includes user research, personas, scenarios and testing) more since they want a closer connection with their users/participants, and want to understand them in a deeper, more committed way.

    Has this been your experience?

  • http://www.backpainlowerrightside.net/ back_pain_right_side

    I'm not finished read this yet, but it's so fabulous 'n I'll back again when I was finished my job :D

  • http://twitter.com/websynapse Ryan Kennedy

    I like the fact that you did away with the email verification step. But I'm outside the US and so my 'zip code' is 'invalid'.

    It's pretty annoying to have this happen on sites that don't identify as US-based.