Service & App design – Streamlining innovation in Amsterdam

Role: Product Design, UX
Methods & Tools: Concept, User Research, Interviews, Competitive Analysis, Sketch, After Effects

ClientGemeente Amsterdam & Informaat
DateSeptember - December 2018
Category, , ,
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Project Background

The Municipality of Amsterdam has set the ambitious goal to be leading the energy transition in the Netherlands and in Europe. To achieve this, Amsterdam will be natural gas-free, will invest heavily in clean energy generation, greatly reduce its energy need and realise emission-free mobility – this requires collaboration with citizens and partners of the city.

However, the local innovation in the energy transition lacks clear direction, is fragmented and often invisible. In order to speed things up and achieve their ambitions, they have to organise the way to innovate in the energy transition domain. In short, they want to streamline innovation.


  1. Provide a library of tools & assets that innovators can use
  2. Describe present and future challenges of the municipality
  3. Be meaningful to the community so people change their social behavior
  4. Connect the community of Amsterdam’s innovators to work together


What are the elements of a framework that streamlines innovation and creates collaboration among innovators – including the citizens, the City of Amsterdam and organisations – to accelerate the city’s effective energy transition?

Dutch energy transition

Analyzing the long-term system effects of various Dutch energy systems, there were not given much attention, they were rather explored only superficially. If we take the problems of the energy transition chain one by one, Kemp R. et al states that firstly, “the problem” that is approached shall be initially described and leave no room for interpretation. Moreover, there is limited knowledge of ecological “cause-and-effect” which needs flexible designs for long-term solutions – state of mind which needs to be adopted by the government too.

“A form of interactive governance is needed, concerned with expressing long-term aims and the management of transition processes.”

When looking into assets that innovators would like to access funding is the first one, followed by people to recruit and domain knowledge – but when asking specifically about what needs they have in regards to the energy transition, they miss a guidance and a showcase of existing solutions.

Open innovation

One of our main insights from talking to experts and potential users from the target group is that being part of a community is an important aspect for all our interviewees. Getting in touch with people in the real world is essential. Innovators use platforms and work on projects, because they want to give back to the city by having a positive impact. They are willing to help but expect something in return. Most importantly, they are looking for personalised, clearly structured overviews of projects and members, preferably also by utilising a map.

Some would like to find other people to join their project idea. A repeated frustration was not being able to find relevant information easily, which is why we need to find a way to enable users to quickly browse through content and intuitively find what they are looking for. But while everyone sees great potential in a digital support for innovators when working towards improving the energy transition in Amsterdam, it was pointed out that the experience needs to stay rich and human and take place in the real world.

Citizen engagement

According to Pranis E. et al, engaging citizens in sustainability is most effective when the issues that affect the personal live, the environment and the communities are identified. Moreover, the majority of the people is willing to join actions if the solution are presented – particularly the youth sees themselves as “change agents” when they have opportunities to plan, take decision or evaluate projects.


The next phase after listing the requirements was to start converging. The phase started by listing converging methods that could suit our project: mindmap, how-to?, storyboard. In the end, we mixed the first two methods (mindmap + how-to?) and we’ve listed four questions in regards to our problem. The questions were: “How to support innovation?”, “How to engage citizens?”, “How to monitor progress?” and “How to organize big data?”. We had sessions of 10 minutes in which we used different colors to write ideas that could solve the problems previously listed. We clustered the answers in blocks and we discussed possible ideas that could develop further.


Site map

In order to create an intuitive experience and to incorporate the features in the concept, we have divided the website in five main sections: Feed, Projects, Meetups, Community, Library. The feed contains the activity and inspiration which motivates the user to get engaged and the projects, meetups, community and library are there to fill the needs of the innovators and push forward the projects to reach the common goal.

User flow

The general user flow was created to show what windows and actions an user shall take in order to submit a project. The interations concluded in four different user flows that illustrate the features which are the value proposition of our service: supersearch, profile creation, idea submission, project proposal.

Together with the client, we realised that focussing on one persona to create the user flow will result in a better understanding of use cases from a specific perspective. The main focus target group for our project would be innovators. The user flow presented below in the flow chart asks the question “what dialogues is the user facing to get from A to Z?”


The prototype started as a responsive web plaftorm which was supposed to show the general overview – it was created in Adobe XD. We’ve first had wireframes and the next step was to fill the placeholders with the information from the sitemap. Continuing, we’ve added prototypes in Sketch and Invision to do animations.

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