A user-oriented route to the 2000-watt society

  • Clarissa Küchler

From the challenges overcome and the concept, to the final conclusion of the City of Zurich energy project.

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Initially, before the optimisation work began, one challenge of this project was identifying and structuring the tools, features and the content of the City of Zurich, its services and companies. The next step was to define which content should be on the energy platform and how this should be structured to suit the associated needs. The information structure and user flows needed to be compatible with the City of Zurich’s framework – in other words, we had to use the information architecture and components of Stadt Zürich without any new development.

To clarify the concerns of companies and the local population (and the best way to provide them with digital advice and make them aware of funding options), we began with a rough stocktake of existing content. Target groups were defined and personas developed to sketch out the concerns and needs of Zurich’s residents, companies and businesses. These were assigned priorities, which were used to establish an order in which content should be incorporated into the website. We also had to draw a distinction between the energy platform and the City’s services, to avoid citizens and companies being provided with content across multiple pages on the City’s website. We worked with all the key players involved to develop and continually refine the concept in a step-by-step process.

Aims: inform, advise and raise awareness

The aim of the new platform is to help the City of Zurich achieve its energy goals by providing citizens, companies and architects/planners with a central platform offering all the information they need for the information phase, planning and implementation of a project. This means that they need to be able to find suitable contacts for advice and funding opportunities, as well as specialist information on current topics, on this platform.

Another objective is to raise awareness among the local population, explain what they can do in their own lives to help achieve energy goals, and provide information about associated City offerings and initiatives. For example, did you know that you can obtain a subsidy when you purchase an energy-efficient household appliance?

Concept: user groups and use-case-based structure and processes

In order to do justice to the complexity of the topic and users’ differing needs and knowledge levels, the energy platform's hierarchical information structure, drawn from the City of Zurich’s website, was defined. The result was a mixture of entry points by user group and topic. The aim is to enable each of the personas defined to quickly find the content they are looking for. The existing content that was integrated into the platform was split across the hierarchical structure and created based on the existing components of the City’s page types. These follow a clear scheme and structure in order to combine content together in thematic structures and link it up. Cross-links were defined to guide users to content hosted by the City’s various departments or energy companies. For example, in-depth information, such as statistics, forms, or the wider context in which the topic of energy is set, should remain on departmental websites.

In order to give the energy project and the relevant steps a comprehensive digital outline and to map these out, a sample process was compiled during a service design workshop. This sketches out the user journey and documents existing tools and information. The interaction between online information and the necessary direct contact was retained. This sample blueprint should serve as a model for sketching out and implementing other projects as a process based on a use case.


We had a lot of fun working on the project with the City’s representatives. We believe that the platform is a vital and necessary step to provide content in a needs-based and, most importantly, user-oriented way. We are convinced that the platform will play a vital role in providing information to and raising awareness among the local population. In any case, we learnt a lot: did you know that Zurich has ‘energy saving consultants’, or that there is an 'achieving the 2000-watt society’ walking trail combined with a radio play? Where? Visit Stadt Zürich to find out more.

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