Product & ux work

Palmetto Alchemy Platform Features

  • Company: Palmetto
  • Role: Lead Designer for Alchemy sales product/engineering teams
  • Timeframe: June 2021-September 2023

During my tenure at Palmetto, I focused on enhancing the user experience for both external partner organizations and internal users within Palmetto's sales platform. This involved not only the introduction of new tools like the standalone proposal pricing calculator but also a dedicated effort to identify and address areas in need of improvement. Below you'll find a few examples of feature work I led.

Instant Design Tool

Palmetto's Mapdwell team recently introduced a powerful tool for quickly generating solar system designs using LiDAR with just a property address. This allows sales representatives to customize solar panel placement within Alchemy, both prior to and during sales appointments with homeowners.

I collaborated with the Mapdwell team to bring their initial UI ideas to life in a user-friendly widget that works with desktop and tablet viewports, catering to the primary preferences of Alchemy users.

Original wireframes for the instant design widget.

With the widget, the user can:

  • Set a target system size either by panel count or kilowatts
  • Turn roof faces on and off for panel placement
  • Switch up the orientation of the panels between landscape and portrait layouts
  • Add or remove individual panels
  • Switch up the orientation of the panels between landscape and portrait layouts
  • Immediately see the impact of changes applied in both a visual mockup of the system design and output numbers detailing the system size in kilowatts, estimated monthly production, estimated first year production, and TSRF (total solar resource fraction–the amount of sunlight the roof will receive over the year)
Design widget in roof alignment mode.Design widget in default editing mode.Design widget with panel editing mode turned on.Design widget with the solar irradiance layer turned off.

Streamlined Proposal Creation Flow

With the introduction of the pricing calculator and the customizable instant design widget, it became necessary to rethink the overall process of creating solar project proposals in Alchemy. In the previous workflow, the interactive proposal was auto-generated using a more limited instant design tool, with few customization options. Sales representatives often had to request manually-created system designs from Palmetto, which was time consuming and costly for both sides. On top of this, Alchemy lacked clear calls to action for viewing a system design or adjusting pricing on a newly generated proposal, leaving users to figure it out independently.

The revamped process seamlessly integrates the new instant design widget and calculator tool into a step-by-step proposal creation flow. It starts with a clear call-to-action and guides users through the solar system design and pricing process, with the interactive proposal as the end result.

First step in the proposal setup flow: the homeowner detail page with Design and Price call-to-action button.Second step in the proposal setup flow: the instant design widget.Third step in the proposal setup flow: the pricing calculator.End of the proposal setup flow: The interactive proposal cover page.

25-Year Savings on the Interactive Proposal

I revamped the 25-Year Savings section of the interactive proposal to provide a clearer picture of the financial impact of switching to solar.

The 25-year savings figure is often an impressive number and a significant selling point. Sometimes, the number is negative because the solar system's cost is higher than the projected utility savings. We got feedback that this section needed clarification because the savings number was always shown in large, green-highlighted text, whether positive or negative. This confused customers because green is usually associated with success or positive outcomes.

Screenshots of the original 25-Year Savings section with a positive and a negative number.

The First Iteration

For the first go at revamping this section, I designed a layout variant where the negative number is no longer displayed. Instead, what is shown is the savings from the projected lower utility bill over 25 years, leaving the system cost out entirely.

Screenshot of the first iteration of the 25-year savings negative number update.

An Inconsistent Experience

Responding promptly to the feedback that this section needed updating, I did not consider an essential piece of the experience: what happens when the user switches between different saved financing states on the proposal.

Due to fees and interest rates, a project could have positive or negative 25-year savings depending on the selected financing option. In appointments with homeowners, sales representatives often switch between different financing options on the proposal, which meant that one proposal could now contain both layouts. This caused even more confusion than before; unsurprisingly, our users were unsatisfied with this update. I went back to the drawing board.

Redesign Take Two

I consulted with a product manager, inside sales team members, and the legal team to determine what information needed to stay. I considered how to display all of the relevant numbers transparently and straightforwardly. 

Instead of presenting a single savings number, users can now choose between two views: one based on utility savings alone and the other considering utility savings and system cost with add-ons and incentives. Positive savings figures remain green, while negative values are gray.

Screenshots of the final updated 25-Year Savings section.

Results & Reflection

This enhancement avoids mixed messaging issues and gives customers a deeper understanding of how purchasing a solar system may (or may not) save them a significant amount of money, empowering them to make an informed choice. This was well-received by sales representatives, who found these updates beneficial when discussing savings during homeowner appointments.

What I would do differently: If I could go back to the early stages of working on this feature, I would advocate for more time to test the first iteration of the redesign with users. If that were not an option, I would have dedicated time to review user sessions on FullStory the week after launch. Hopefully, I would have uncovered the inconsistency issue before we received complaints about it. This experience taught me that even though a feature is launched, I should still do check-ins on how it is performing with the intended audience. I implemented this lesson on my next major project, the Proposal Pricing calculator.