Kenya Power is a national electric utility company, managing electric metering, licensing, billing, emergency electricity service, and customer relations. It’s partly owned by the Government of Kenya with 50.1 percent shareholding and private investors with 49.9 percent shareholding.
Here’s raw feedback from the user’s review on App Store & Google Play. From the reviews below, registration is the biggest huddle on the platform. The screenshots below summarize some other user problems.
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As mentioned, buying power tokens is not seamless in as much as it’s done digitally.
- No Automation. Most of us are familiar with the long process of buying KPLC tokens. You have to physically go to the meter and manually key in units. In an ideal scenario, after buying power, the token units should auto load themselves in the power meter. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with the current KPLC app.
- No Real-time Status Updates: On the app, there isn’t a way to check how many tokens you’ve used, what your average monthly consumption is, and an estimate of how much you’re charged per token unit.
- Can’t buy Token through the app. At the moment the current app does have an internal feature for buying tokens.
- Token reversal is a nightmare. If you mistakenly buy tokens to the wrong account, you can’t request a reversal through the app. You have to print a form, fill it with your ID then write an email to the support department and wait for one of the official agents to come to your house and check your place. Might take months. I personally bought to the wrong account and it’s been 4 months still waiting.
- ROLE: UX Designer, and conducted User tester.
- Timeline: 4 Weeks, August 2021
- Team: Michael Kitticai – Solo Project
- Tools: Adobe XD, Pen & Paper
- As a power consumer, I used some of my pain points to come up with the solutions
- I later conducted user testing interviews and reached out for feedback.
This is good. We appreciate and value your feedback. Please feel free to reach out to us through email@example.com— The Kenya Power & Lighting Company Plc. (@KenyaPower) September 25, 2021
Kenya Power & Lighting Company twitter account.
Before we dive into the final product, let’s check out how I came up with the whole design.
Before starting any design process, I asked myself while putting the user at the center of the focus.
- What do I really want the user to achieve from this platform?
- How’ll it improve their daily life?
- What key features would I (KPLC Daily user) want to see in the app?
- And how would an average Kenyan with very basic knowledge of tech be able to navigate through?
- And how useful will this be to them?
So after coming up with a few objectives the app features came out straightforward. These were:
- Enable users to buy tokens directly from the app, without being directed elsewhere or using a third-party platform.
- Show live updates of my current power usage and an estimate of how long they’ll last
- An easy and seamless way to reverse tokens sent to the wrong account
- Notify users about future “Planned Power interruption”. This basically means there’ll be a power blackout in your area.
Then followed up with low fidelity (Lo-Fi) sketches. I like to do this first on pen and paper, this way I can sketch out ALL the ideas I have in mind without any design constrictions.
Then later I refined the wireframes on Adobe XD.
HIGH FIDELITY WIREFRAME
Then came the fun part, my favorite part, adding ‘meat’ on the skeleton. 🤗🥳🎉 This is where I give life to the app.
I chose blue (#003D8F) and yellow (#FFD617) as the primary colors because the two contrast and are easy on the eye. Also, for accessibility purposes, it’s easy to spot the yellow while on a blue background and vice versa.
The main typeface used was a variation of Circular Std font. Mainly because it’s easy to read sans serif and it’s not that common. And lastly, all the icons used are free commercial icons from Icons 4 design plugin on Adobe XD.
Now let’s dive into the app prototype and explore some of its features.
You can also try the prototype here.
The first screen is the splash screen which features the KPLC logo as it loads.
Login & Registration screen
Then followed by the Registration screen. By default, new users will have to register first before login in.
After successfully registering/login in, the user is taken to the home page which is the 3rd screen.
The navigation bar
It’s a common trend nowadays or probably an industry standard to spot a navigation bar at the bottom of the page. This was not an exception here, the navbar was at the bottom too with navigation icons linking to different pages in the app.
- The cherry on top. 🍰 The main UI highlight and my favorite design about the navbar is the bulb popup menu in the middle. I call it the cherry on top, the sprinkle of awesomeness in the whole app.
- The animation is smooth and the bulb lights up when pressed and pops out icons showing more menu options. This not only is a fun UI feature, but also good UX to help declutter the navbar with fewer priority features.
Here you can check when there’ll be a scheduled power blackout in your area or in other locations. The calendar shows future planned blackouts. This helps the user to plan prior and avoid being caught off guard with Power blackout.
- This page is meant for recharging tokens by buying them with your preferred money payment platform.
- By default, M-Pesa is the selected option because of its popularity with paying bills. But users have the option to change.
- Another useful feature on this page is tokens estimate. This way you can estimate how many tokens you’ll get before transacting.
If a user buys tokens to the wrong meter account, all they have to do is, fill a form and request for a reversal. Without having to the hustle of writing long emails to the support team.
Easily report a Power outage in your area without having to call the service provider.
Other additional features
- Blog article with useful power saving tips
- Settings page
- FAQ page
Now it’s time to put the rubber on the road. First I gave the users a chance to try the prototype first. I did this by embedding the XD file on my website with a set of instructions. You can also try it here.
- The app is still not coded so, I couldn’t fully test all the functionalities
- The fact that users had to try it on an embedded platform and not on their actual phones, limits me to seeing how they navigate the app through their palms.
KPLC MEETING FOLLOWUP – My wrong assumption
- On January 19th, 2022, I had a meeting with two KPLC staff from the IT department. I was impressed to hear one of the ‘Devs’ had gone through this case study. We had a long chat about it but unfortunately, this app idea wasn’t feasible at the moment.
- I got plenty of reasons why it’s not possible, but the main one was that the current prepaid meters are not smart meters. As I was doing the UX I assumed (a very bad UX mistake ) that the whole token system uses some sort of API that informs them when a purchase is done. Therefore, All we needed was to get a hold of it and add it to our system. Long story short, they liked the idea ‘it was cute but naaah…..’ 😅
- RESEARCH WITH DEVS FIRST – The biggest lesson I learned here as a UX’er was always get feedback from the developers before going full force on designing. The idea might be out of this world in theory (design) but when it comes to implementation it won’t cut it.☹️
But hey, there’s still good news. I have another case study about the CBC program in Kenya. You’ll love to read it.