RE-VIVE is an app that helps empower its users to repair their home appliances and tackle our throwaway culture.
How it works
RE-VIVE is circular system designed for users with varying levels of skill, from beginner to expert. Use the app to connect with a live volunteer assistant for tailored advice on your appliance, or browse from the community created guides to learn about the basics of repair. Once you’ve made your first repair, share the process with the community to help inspire and educate others!
The key target audience in this situation is the consumer of home appliances. A person that might be aware or just made aware of the impact of e-waste on our environment. Because of this, people want to make a more conscious decision about getting rid of their once valuable electronic devices. While some people might see these older devices as outdated, other people might have another perspective. How can we share these perspectives with these conscious consumers? What about the knowledge of repair technicians? Can these old devices be brought back to life?
Primary research was the main focus of this project in order to get a better understanding of people’s behaviors and attitudes towards repair. The majority of this primary research was done through interviews involving people with varying levels of experience when it comes to repairing.
“’Repairy’ people want to share and contribute” - T.W
“Trying to instill an interest in problem solving” - M.N
“What makes people step into the void?” - T.W
“The appliance isn’t dead, there is just a break in the chain
and you need to reconnect it” - G.N
“An appliance is a variation of components with a
skin over them” - G.N
“..seeing your peer do it successfully proves to you that it IS
possible..” - N.R
“There’s a great sense of pride when fixing an appliance for
it to outlive its expected life” - M.N
1. We can utilise existing DIY communities to share their perspectives and inspire others to adopt a more sustainable living.
2. There is a need to educate people about the basics and practice of repair in order to empower them.
3. There is a systematic way in which the expert diagnoses problems, and this is done by knowing how components work together on a basic level.
4. Peer to peer learning is one of the most effective ways to demonstrate what can be done, and how they can do it for themselves.
5. The peer to peer learning is also a great way to overcome the lack of tailored information, as the discussion is more dynamic and the expert would be able to adapt their process accordingly.
6. There is an overwhelming feeling of pride when it comes to repairing something, and there is a need to make the process of repair as easy as possible to achieve this moment for the user.
7. Following the moment of pride, people often then want to share their experience with others, and to educate or inspire people.
Autoethnographic experience mapping
I wanted to document the process of diagnosing something for myself to create an accurate user experience map. The goal of this test was to diagnose the fault with the air-con not blowing cold air. A number of approaches were made, such as making a visual inspection to see if anything was out of place and research was done to determine some of the common faults with air-conditioning.
For this project, there are 4 types of personas that I have developed. I have left out a negative persona and focused on two key users and two secondaries.
Martha is the first key user that I have identified. She is a resourceful person trying to cut house maintenance costs, but lacks the expertise to carry out some of the tasks herself.
Brendan is my other key user. He is a repair technician with 28 years of experience. In his downtime, he often uses online communities and forums to interact and keep up to date with events. He also browses the various forums he is interested in to offer assistance, or maybe learn something new himself.
Anthony is one of my secondary personas. He has been repairing and restoring a number of appliances for his new home. He has learned a lot about the basics of repair and how things operate and would like to share his newfound knowledge with others in his circle and to show his achievements by telling a story.
Jeremy is my other secondary persona. He has been living in his home for a number of years now and is experiencing an increase in faulty house appliances due to age. He is on a budget and is aware that repair is the cheapest route, but he lacks the knowledge to do so as this would be his first time trying ‘do it yourself’ repairs.
What do they need?
I have identified a demographic that is aware of the benefits of DIY repair but need assistance. This assistance could come in the form of educating the user through guides or case studies of similar appliances. This person needs a nudge or helping hand to complete their repair.
On the other end, we have those that are active in online communities sharing their success and offering this advice to those that need it. Using my insight from my interviews that people find it difficult to learn from written guides, there is a need to connect these two demographics in a visually engaging way.
Following my auto-ethnographic experience map, I wanted to see if I could replicate and improve upon it with someone else. We arranged to send pre-recorded videos to each other. I asked the participant to explain the issue to me and to show me what they were trying to do to fix it.
For my response, I prepared a list of steps the participant could take in order to confirm the issue along with some suggestions to fix them. People found text instructions hard to understand, so I created a video demonstrating each of the steps.We arranged to send pre-recorded videos to each other. I asked the participant to explain the issue to me and to show me what they were trying to do to fix it.
It was much easier to demonstrate methods of diagnosis and to explain any of the intricacies involved. The asynchronous communication was definitely slower and took time for me to generate the information for the participant. The participant found that the video was very informative, and that she learned a lot about how her car operates.
“I liked the fact that your explanations were very friendly
and the videos is awesome”
“I think what is interesting is that I don’t really feel comfortable opening
the front cover of my car except if someone showed it to me first”
“I would also like to have like anchors for the video, can I skip the
beginning and go directly to step 3 for instance?”
For this experience prototyping session, I was able to conduct a video call to offer advice on replacing a unit for a vacuum cleaner.
What I found was that the live communication was a better method of communicating and correcting technique. Even when the participant had to explain the issue to me and bring me up to speed, it was quicker than the previous example.
However, I did notice there is an issue when trying to direct the user over a video call. Trying to identify what screw I was talking about was confusing for the user.
From a distance assistance
Being on-site I was able to assist in the repair from a distance. This acted somewhat as ‘remote’ assistance as I was not physically able to interact with the appliance at the same time as the participant.
I found that it was easy to follow what the participant was doing in order to find the ‘break in the chain’. I still had to describe what the participant might need to do, which at moments was difficult to explain.
The participant stated that he found it helpful to get a second opinion and the assistance confirmed his own suspicions, which made him feel confident in what he was doing.
Arriving at a concept
It is clear that the users are looking for assistance to diagnose or repair their appliances, in order to cut costs. There is also a need for reliable and on-demand information to assist the user through the process.
Video Call Assistance
We can use the existing communities in place that offer advice to the public. With manuals and written guides being hard to follow, users find peer to peer learning is far more effective.
Educate & Inspire
Educating users will empower them to view repair as a more attainable option. Experts also encourage the idea of educating the user before interacting with the assistant in order to provide a better, more fluid experience.
Talking with the Experts
The goal for this was to get a good understanding of what might motivate them to offer help. I wanted to ask how they would offer help to someone, and what other features or interactions are needed to make the process as fluid as possible.
“My helper is there on his own free will, I don’t want to waste his time” - N.R, thinking about the perspective of someone looking for help
“Try their best to funnel you, for better or worse..” - N.R, talking about customer service phone lines
“How does a hairdryer work?” - Gauge how much of an understanding a person has in regards to how products work
A mixed group
This was a great way to get mixed input from people with different levels of competence with regards to repair. I wanted to explore some of their concerns, and how we could design to overcome them with.
“Helper review scores help with reassurance..” - L.W, on building confidence
“..could get overwhelmed and give up” - S.M, explaining why a 1on1 call might be better than a public video stream
Members reinforced the idea of using a rating system. This system could be designed to support the assistant in building their profile to indicate they are a more reliable and reputable source of information.
Also organising content in a way to make it easier to find the answer to what they want? This is something they need to make a more informed decision.
A discussion was had about guiding the user to conduct some self-education. S.M reinforced this by saying it would reduce wasting the helpers time.
Customer Journey Maps
User testing was done with a number of participants from my interviews and co-creation sessions to see if the screens are as they imagined. I also had some fresh eyes testing the prototypes to see if they would be able to understand the concept during use.
“How do I know who to listen to?” - S.M
Commenting that the streaming service might introduce too much input and noise, compared to a 1-on-1 call.
“This is assuming I’m a professional” - N.R
The registration is too restrictive and is more geared towards qualified users. This will scare away the community of people that can help and offer their knowledge.
“If they can do it I can do it” - M.L
Likes the introduction of completed projects. Inspires and encourages her that she can do the same
“I wouldn’t like to be spammed. I would like to help someone at my convenience” - P.R
“What happens when you can’t help someone?” - M.L
“All ratings are, in my mind, pointless apart from the negative
ratings” - N.R
“It’s clear to see what’s going on.. I’m a dinosaur with apps” - G.N during the video call screen
“Is there a way to put up your availability?” - G.N
“Feels like the app is trying to get me away from the process of handling my ticket” - E.S
There are too many popup during the ticket process. This is distracting the user for reaching their goal, and could become frustrating.
“What do you want me to do?” - C.M
The home page seems confusing and lacking a purpose. Need to add a call to action and guide the user.
"Didn’t see the top nav” & “Oh I missed the top nav” - C.M & P.R
The two top navy in the Help section are not clear enough. This may be due to grey colours and lack of contrast. Will need to test this with colour.
“The title could be different.. stories is more inviting” - P.R
The difference between projects and guides seems a little confusing to some users. Rewording may help overcome this issue.
“I would have missed the comments if you didn’t tell me” - P.R
The comments section under Projects and Guides was hidden too far under the fold. Condensing the post with a "Read More" can bring them above the fold.
“What if I could preview the post before I commit to it?” - C.M
Some users wanted more control over the post creation process, such as additional subsections and preview options.
“Don’t like talking to people as my first option, I like digging through the layers first” - E.S
Not everyone was keen on joining a video call right away, which supports the need for the asynchronous assistance in the platform.
“I think the video features work well, but you need to make sure you explain how to use them for people like me” - G.N
Those that are not tech literate will need the introduction for the video call features. This educates them to use the platform effectively as it may not be obvious to them.
“Add a pop up maybe to clarify it” S.M when stuck on the help page
After changing the order of the top nav in the Help page, there is a need to highlight the top nav. This can be done with a micro interaction to notify them.
“Where to Help someone isn’t obvious. The whole system relies on people to help” - N.R
The Home page is currently tailored for those looking for help with the call to action. A similar one is needed for those looking to offer help.
“Sometimes there are things that can’t be fixed, and there isn’t much that can be done to help” - G.N
The experts may need a way to communicate this to the user and possibly send on documentation or information.
“You can get a lot from an image, even a blurry one” - G.N
The images need to be expandable with the option to zoom in on them, as they can get a lot of information from the images.
“Clear and laid out.. manageable” & “Can I edit my project?” - S.M
There is a clear format to the posts and they are easy to follow, but some of the users would still like the option to add more subsections and more features.
“Guides can explain what Projects won’t” - S.M
There is a better understanding of the Project and Guide section.
It was clear from the beginning of this project that there is scope to design this across multiple platforms, such as tablets and desktop computers. A web portal could be used to join video calls to offer assistance on a larger screen, and offer more functionality.
There is also a problem from a lot of the survey responses about the difficulty of identifying part numbers and sourcing new parts. There is scope to design a part ordering system into the user flows. Using image detection during the ‘Create a Ticket’ stage, it could be possible to follow up with a list of parts that are relevant to that specific brand and model. This could be tested further to help make the purchasing decision easier.
The insights gathered from the research, interviews and co-creation sessions has resulted in a product that I believe to be in line with the users’ needs. As I set out to encourage users to repair, I believe the app does this in various ways by catering to users with varying levels of skill. Without the expert input, it would have been very difficult to capture the essence of what it means to repair and take responsibility for our goods.
While this app does not tackle the real issue around planned obsolescence, it does empower homeowners to make a difference in their lifestyle and purchasing decisions. The online community around DIY is going strong with volunteers across multiple platforms such as iFixit, Restart Project, Instructables and more.
As people are becoming more aware of the environment around us, I find it to be a fitting time to offer this product. Rethinking traditional online forums by creating a new way to interact with other like-minded people to offer advice and to inspire.