1. Define the must haves and eliminate the non-essential

The sooner we start, right from the definition of the need, design specifications, and the prototyping, the bigger reduction on the environmental impact can be.

Frédéric Bordage, Ecodesign / the 115 best practices (translated from the French)

Before you start the design phase, it is crucial to accurately evaluate the needs to avoid adding unnecessary capabilities. Around 45% of capabilities are never used, and 70% are not essential (Ecodesign / the 115 best practices - French). This phase is really important and must be conducted with the project stakeholders.

Eco-design is a global approach, and one of its key elements is the functional unit.

The functional unit represents the main task of your service and often corresponds to a user goal. For example : “Buying a concert ticket”, “Watching an online video”, “Looking for a phone number”.

Questions to ask yourself

  • What are the real needs of this functional unit?
  • What is the value of the tasks offered by this service?
  • Is this capability really necessary? Can we do it differently?
  • What would happen if we didn’t have it?
  • What are the steps needed to accomplish this task?

Example of non-essential capability

The BBC podcast service offers two choices of download: “Higher quality” and “Lower quality”.

By default, if we don’t know the impact of one or the other, we would choose the “Higher quality” option which is 2 times heavier. And we can’t hear the difference between the two with standard speakers or headphones.

The functional unit for this service would be: “Download the podcast” and not “Download the podcast in high or low quality”.

We could eliminate this non-essential capability altogether and only keep one download option: the lower quality one, without calling it that way!

BBC Podcast page with a Download button Page and 2 download options “Higher quality” and “Lower quality”

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Come talk with us on https://slack.designersethiques.org, channel #projet_ecoconception.

Authors of the guide: Aurélie Baton and Anne Faubry.