Budget: $10,ooo

Schedule: 8 weeks of preparation and 2-day training

Summary:  Design Thinking is a method of problem solving that uses empathy for understanding the context of a problem, creativity in identifying insights and possible solutions, and rationality in analyzing and planning various solutions.

In this two-day training with members of the SFMTA’s SMART Commute Program we focused on the HEAR and CREATE portion of the Human Centered Design toolkit, and left the DELIVER portion for them to explore on their own.

Human Centered Design


The HCD process uses unique tools to capture the users’ perspective.  HCD engages direct participation by constituents early and often in the design cycle. Also, the process goes deep rather than broad. Instead of looking at averages, which often miss a large portion of the users needs, we look at extremes.

During the “HEAR” portion of the training, the participants used many qualitative methods to reach the goal of understanding their constituents point of view and reasoning.  Through the process the participants came away with a deeper understanding of the needs of their constituents, as well as the constraints and barriers to the design challenge.

During the CREATE phase, participants translated insights about the reality of today into a set of opportunities for the future. The team then brainstormed solutions for those opportunities and rapidly made a few of them tangible through prototyping.

At the end of the CREATE phase they presented four prototypes and gathered feedback from their constituency.  The intent of gathering feedback was to refine the solutions not to prove that they were perfect. The best feedback is that which makes you rethink and redesign.

Through the first stages of this process participants assessed solutions through the desirability lens only, ignoring the lens of feasibility, which is the focus of the DELIVER phase. Here is where they would develop a financial model, identify capabilities, plan for growth, create an implementation time line, test with mini pilot projects, and finally evaluate the effectiveness of their project. Another goal of the DELIVER phase is to create a plan for on-going learning and iteration so that your solutions can improve and adapt to changing situations.






































Budget: $40,000 initial contract, $100,000 for ongoing work.

Schedule: Began the project in March of 2015, rebranding was approved by the board in October of 2015 and the initial contract was completed in December of 2015.

Summary: Green Ideas and InkëDesign partnered to support the Napa Valley Transportation Authority (previously the Napa County Transportation and Planning Agency) with branding and marketing research development services.  Ultimately, Napa County was facing major traffic congestion and needed to get more people on the bus.

Press: Napa Valley Register, “NCTPA Looks to Boost It’s Identity With Voters”

To approve the strategic rebranding for Napa Valley Transportation Authority, the twelve agency board members consisting of Napa County municipal mayors and council members unanimously voted to approve the agency rebranding in 15 minutes.

“After all the years in government, I have never seen a political body make a unanimous decision in such a short amount of time.”  – Jill Techel, Mayor of Napa

Our rebranding effort was so successful not by magic, but due to a six-month stakeholder engagement process, informed by two design methodologies we regularly employ: Community Based Social Marketing (CBSM) developed by Dr. McKenzie-Mohr and Human Centered Design (HCD) developed by IDEO.

Social behavior change is both an art and a science. Integrating the latest in social psychology research with effective design strategies, we have developed a well-proven methodology of community-based social marketing that causes new social behaviors, community norms and ultimately massive cultural shifts.


  • HEAR: Social Listening (Market Research) Social Listening is an in-depth market research process that goes beyond survey data by using various interview, shadowing and research techniques to understand the hidden barriers, motivations and worldviews of the constituency groups. In addition to using survey data for broad understanding, Social Listening develops a deep understanding and empathy for the user.  Deliverables from this step included: Comprehensive Market Research Paper that includes data on internal and external audience perceptions, hidden motivations, suggestions for changing perceptions through a new identity and branding effort.

What was unique about our approach is that we gathered qualitative data as well as quantitative data. We reached out through community organizations to get as much diverse demographic data as possible.  The community engagement process is really different than a simple survey, because we interview people and listen for things we might not have thought of.  This approach, the human-centered design approach, is important for a successful rebranding and positioning of the agency. In many cases, designs fail because user relationships weren’t developed.

  • CREATE: Design Collaboration & Brand Development  Our collaborative design process worked to incorporate early and ongoing input from internal and external stakeholders. To ensure that the resulting strategy fit the purpose, we enrolled and aligned partners in the early design-phase by engaging them in facilitated design sessions and early feedback. Deliverables from this step included: 1) Facilitated a multi-hour HCD process NCTPA board of directors retreat in coordination with NCTPA staff focusing on soliciting rebranding priorities and concepts to further integrate transit/transportation solutions with Napa’s community, and 2) Brand Standards Manual – incorporating new graphics, messaging, and other brand collateral. This included visual brand (logo, graphics, etc.) and written brand (messaging, tagline, etc.).
  • DELIVER: Marketing Plan and Implementation  Community-based social marketing has been the most effective way to bring about social behavior change. Once the barriers and benefits were understood, and after working collaboratively to develop the brand and core messaging, the next phase was to implement a community-based social marketing plan. Utilizing the framework of Dr. McKenzie-Mohr as well as an integrated media strategy, Green Ideas developed a comprehensive marketing plan with concrete goals, budgets, and timelines. This included a media strategy based on the analysis results of the market research.  Deliverables from this step included: 1) NCTPA Marketing Plan – with timelines, budgets, and media selection strategy, and 2) Green Ideas Campaign Effectiveness and Media ROI Tool.

The NCPTA bus before rebranding.

NVTA bus with new logo and name.






New bus stop for NVTA.







New uniforms worn by the NVTA staff.

New logo designed in collaboration with InkëDesign.

SF Elections Voter Guide

The goal of this project was to make the contents of the city of San Francisco’s voter guide available on the web, both to make it accessible online and so the fewer paper booklets would need to be printed. The SF elections department was under a legal requirement to show exactly the same content in the online and print versions of the voter guide. One of the unique challenges of this project was to create a special interface for editors so that content could be copied and pasted from their layout software (Adobe InDesign) into the website and maintain the same styling. This was especially important for the legal text area of the guide which had special meaning associated with indented, bold and italic portions of the text. This site is also translated into multiple languages, with both automatic translation (Google) and manual translation for critical or legally important content.

Sunforce Solutions

Sunforce solutions required a simple site to showcase its different types of offerings in a unique business model for solar energy. We created a special look for their home page using vector (SVG) graphics overlaid on top of the regular HTML elements and a parallax effect.


PYPO (Put Your Pretty On) hired Green Ideas to create a comedy social network for women over 40. This is the most complex web development project we have done and includes a responsive full bled video, a video commenting feature, rich multi-tiered taxonomies and integrated newsletter publishing: where the current week’s articles automatically populate an email template set up in mailchimp.

Adam Warmington

Adam Warmington’s small production studio works with some big names like Bono, Snoop Dogg, Levis, Converse and Patagonia. He needed a simple site that would get out of the way and let his amazing work speak for itself. We worked closely with Adam to fine tune the minimal graphic elements to align with his rigorous aesthetic.

Aleksandra Evanguelidi

Aleksandra’s Los Angeles based practice includes pre-conception fertility consultation, midwifery, and postpartum care. She required a website design that was well organized to clearly describe her unique approach, while also visually rich to convey the compassionate nature of her care.  

Somersaults Snack Company

Somersaults hired Green Ideas for a simple redesign of their existing website. The goal of the project was to simplify user experience, align the site’s visual identity with Somersaults’ new packaging design, and improve social media integration and Search engine placement. We worked closely with Somersaults’ head of marketing to re-think the architecture of their existing site, keeping as much of their content as possible. This project is still in development and scheduled to go live in coordination with the release of their new packaging design.  

SolarResilient tool

This online tool recommends solar PV emergency backup systems for civic and other large buildings. The goal is to replace diesel generator based emergency backup systems, increasing demand for solar PV and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Buildings that have a solar PV backup systems can reduce their daily electricity usage because, once the backup batteries are topped off, the power generated by the solar panels goes to reduce the building’s electrical load. This tool is still in beta mode as the engineers at Arup fine tune the electrical load calculations.

California Wool Inventory and Map

Budget $20,000

Timeline 6 months

Summary At three million pounds of raw wool per year, California is the largest wool producing state in the US. Sadly, a good portion of this fiber is sent overseas for processing or tossed in the landfill. In working with Fibershed, we sought to answer the question: Does California have enough high-quality fiber for commercial scale processing? By July 2013, we completed the first ever supply analysis of California wool and collected quality (micron count) and quantity data on 1.408 million pounds of raw fiber (44.8 percent of the California wool supply see Fibershed Wool map). The Rudolf Steiner Foundation, Blackie Foundation, the Sarah and Evan Williams Foundation, and the Clara Fund generously supported this endeavor.

Collaborating with soil scientists, we created a series of surveys which were distributed to nearly three thousand wool producers in California, nearly 200 of whom generously gave an hour to answer detailed questions about their flocks, grazing practices, and land use. We also enlisted the help of wool shearers to collect data on wool quantity and quality (fiber thickness, length, and cleanliness).  Roswell Wool, the largest wool auction house in the United States, also provided us quantity and quality data for all California 2012 wool producers in their database.

We integrated the various datasets into one cohesive database, allowing us to analyze the data and visualize it. The Wool Map is one of the outputs of this project, allowing us to understand the relationship of climate zones to wool quality and flock size. We learned that the wetter coastal regions produce coarser wool and the drier regions produce finer wool.

In our analysis, we discovered that over one million pounds (83 percent) of the wool we inventoried is under 25 microns; fine enough to wear next to the skin, allowing for the production of functional and commonly worn garments. All wool over 25 microns (241,000 pounds) can be utilized for outerwear, felt and bedding products. We were ecstatic to learn that, yes; California does have enough high quality fiber to potentially justify commercial-scale processing.

wool map

micron count

lbs of wool by flock size