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Webinar series - Switch Platform: where design meets tech

author
Marc Mültin
published
June 27, 2022
Read Time
~
7
min read

We believe sharing knowledge and helping others in the e-mobility industry to innovate is the way forward – for all of us. That’s why we created our Switch webinar series because by learning and working together, we’ll get there quicker.

On Tuesday, 7 June 2022, we presented “Switch Platform: where design meets tech”, episode four of our popular webinar series. Switch Platform is our game-changing software solution that future-proofs EV chargers.

Our webinar speakers were our Switch experts: Adam Chilab (Chief Product Officer), Molly Boyle (Senior Software Engineer) and Sam Hainsworth (Head of Design).

In the live webinar, we talked through:

  • our journey in developing the future-proof Switch Platform (powered by OCPP 2.0.1), our future-proof solution for EV charging stations
  • how our design-led approach helped to create our game-changing technology
  • the importance of user feedback in designing our customer-focused product
  • how rapid front-end prototyping helped us explore vital next-step questions
  • the challenges and solutions of recruiting users for research
  • the benefits of concept testing.
Here’s the recording of our webinar from 7 June 2022, for you to watch.
We dedicated the last 15 minutes of the webinar to questions. Each question and answer is detailed below, so you can find all you need on our user-led approach to creating Switch Platform. Enjoy!

Below, we’ve linked the questions to the timestamps in the video and elaborated our answers in more detail. If there are any other specific questions you would like us to answer, shoot me an email at marc@switch-ev.com.

Want to see a demo of the Switch Platform? You can book a demo here today.

Q:  How much creative input does the tech team have?

Adam:  At Switch, we've got a very diverse team. We've got a great mix of experts, people who are honest, technical, and give a different perspective on the user and the industry. 

If we have a user-led product and a user-led platform that combines our technology, we must have a culture that promotes an all-hands approach, meaning everyone is involved in the process. Being encouraged to be part of that process is vital to us. Culturally, it's about practising what we preach from every possible point. 

Molly: We work closely together. We use the concept of a feedback loop in design -  it’s helpful to both design and tech teams when we generate an idea that can be challenging to understand. 

For example, is it possible to take a static idea and make it interactive? What challenges might you face to make something interactive on Figma? That might not mean the browser has the same capabilities you might expect. 

As a front-end engineer, I enjoy talking through the feedback loop process and asking what happens when someone moves from this screen to the next screen. 

We often talk about the user cases, but what happens if data doesn't come through or the charging station is very slow to respond, for example? The answers come by working together. 

Building our prototypes is an incredibly collaborative process, and many of the ideas start from design. Then it’s about editing and refining those ideas as we begin to make them interactive.

Q:  How do you orchestrate design sprints remotely?

Sam: We develop design sprints over Figma. So, we have a framework within Figma, an excellent design tool you can prototype and set up live sessions where you can start doing many different activities.

We always prepare our framework from the angle of our business and user goals, and with the Figma board, we can create and build our ideas.

The benefit of doing remote work on Figma is that all of the ideas and your post-it notes are digital, which means they are always there.

Pre-COVID, we were all in the office together, and sometimes you'd lose a post-it note or an idea. Now, having them all in one digital space is effective and efficient.

Q:  How do we recruit customers so you can test and prototype?

Sam: We test by screening. We have a newsletter list and send out a screening survey. We try to find the correct user to engage with in our testing. Once we've done that, we invite our users to join us.

If we're looking for someone specific, we might do some LinkedIn recruitment. The biggest thing in our industry, though, is to incentivise users.

This is a B2B platform, and users’ time is valuable, so incentives are a massive part of our user testing.

We always try to make sure we're giving something back to them for giving something to us. And that's how our recruitment process goes.

Q:  The platform is designed mainly for maintenance and component supervision. Is there any monitoring information managed from the platform? What about energy consumption prices and cost-of-charging sessions? Is it possible to aggregate the data of several charging stations in a parking lot?

Adam: With the OCPP 2.0.1 implementation and its benefits, the Switch Platform focuses on maintenance, component visualisation and cost savings. Those are the main benefits.

We also offer all the other features you would expect from a CMS, particularly monetisation.

With the Switch Platform, you can manage tariffs at a user level, at both the charging station and macro levels. And then, the platform can combine that with how you visualise that information depending on where you want to put it.

We also have variation reporting within the Switch Platform itself. So that would give you commercial reporting in terms of spend and how that compares to your current consumption, which is user-inputted.

The business case as a charge operator is big. You want to ensure visibility and return on investment, and the Switch Platform reporting enables you to do that. You also receive operational reports.

So, in a nutshell, we do everything you usually see a CSMS do around monetising, but we go above and beyond with the platform's maintenance.

Q:  Can you share an example of a significant improvement you have detected in applying the new framework?

Sam: One of the major things was language terminology and ensuring contextual information. That was a significant finding from our user research and was something we applied to our new concept.

The importance of the message logs alongside components was a huge discovery for us. We didn't think it would be so helpful to users. But it turned out they were two features that worked well together and helped improve how we displayed the device model data.

Q:  Do you conduct any user research upfront before getting into ideation?

Sam: We conduct initial user interviews up front, asking about their day-to-day use of things like a CSMS and their reasons for wanting to see the device model.

We do up to 80 minutes of short talks with actual users and front-desk research, looking at what's happening inside and outside the industry.

We also find people writing reviews or trends and people writing about the future of EV, including looking at YouTube reviews. This sometimes brings up some quite exciting research areas.

We try not to leave any stone unturned. For example, take social media, where people complain or give feedback on something. This is always good for us to hear because it helps us carry out open research before starting.

Q:  What do you focus your efforts on - user testing on business functions or UX impact?

Sam: We try not to focus too heavily initially on design. Instead, we focus mainly on function.

We aim to create something that will work for the user first and always ensure we go back and test the design.

We like to ensure that we're happy with the UI and that it's working, and we use tools that help us do that quite quickly. In terms of UX and its function, we might do a larger piece of research or just the content testing where we put functionality in front of users, spending an hour with them.

With UI, we often send out an automated user-testing tool. We use Maze to send out a survey. The survey only takes 10 to 15 minutes, and we get a full report that feeds back on usability and thoughts about the overall look and feel.

Click image to download the presented slide deck

Want to see a demo of the Switch Platform? You can book a demo here today.

Abbreviations

  • EV = Electric Vehicle
  • CMS = Customer Management System
  • CSMS = Charging Station Management System


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Since we have published our ISO 15118 Manual it has been purchased by the biggest names in our industry and has become standard literature.

as well as Daimler, Porsche, Shell, Tritium, and many more...

As we were intensively implementing and testing
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Marc Mültin
June 27, 2022

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