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A website that helps the users to be involved in conservation by providing easy access to related courses, events, and organizations with digital awards.


My Roles: UX Researcher & UX Designer
  • Created the interview questions

  • Conducted contextual inquiry

  • Conducted semi-structured interviews

  • Analyzed data using affinity maps

  • Generated sketch concepts

  • Created the storyboard and narrative walkthrough

  • Built the visual design library (VDL) for the final prototype

  • Led usability testing sessions


Jordan Cursuries

Vanessa Lin

Kewal Shah


Figma   Miro


Aug 2021 - Dec 2021


In the Research Methods for HCI class at Georgia Tech, we were given a prompt “Sustainability” for the semester-long group project. After gathering information by browsing over the Internet, speaking with sustainability experts, and brainstorming with the team members, we decided to focus our project on local conservation.


By studying existing websites and apps and literature reviews, we found that while more people are hopping on the “trend” of living a greener life, public awareness of the biodiversity crisis is still limited. Based on the findings, we came up with the project goal.


“How can we help young Georgia residents who are outdoor enthusiasts to be aware, interested, and get directly involved in conservation?”


We created a web-based tool that conveys information on local events and courses, allows users to connect with others with similar interests, and provides virtual awards to encourage users’ participation in conservation activities.


To better understand the problem space, we used four methods to study the related topics as well as gather the information to guide us through the later phases of the project.


Literature Reviews

We searched the sources online for our focused topic, conservation, to further explore the problem spaces and acquire scientific evidence.


Expert Interviews

We conducted interviews with local conservation experts in different fields to gather first-hand information that helped us to define the user characteristics and user goals.


Initial Task Analysis

Gain interest -> Research -> Determine to be involved -> Join a community -> Take actions -> Share and advocate


Study Existing Software

We realized that several existing software related to local conservation had disorganized information placement, confusing interface design, and little visual design, which significantly reduced the efficiency for users to find information needed.


User Characteristics


Outdoor enthusiasts


Young adults

(age range: 18-30)


Georgia residents


Technically literate

User Goals


Conservation of natural habitats


Connect with other nature lovers


Health benefits from nature

Initial Design Implications

Implement good visual design
Include a discussion area for users to interact with others
Provide users digital certificates or badges for conservation efforts


Semi-Structured Interviews (Virtual)

We included semi-structured interviews due to their nature of collecting more in-depth qualitative data in a fairly efficient and flexible manner compared to direct observation. By conducting interviews virtually, it allowed both interviewers and interviewees to set up the meeting schedule more flexibly.


Lifestyle & engagement with nature
Understanding of Biodiversity
Engagement with Biodiversity


5 participants
Virtual (MS Teams)
1 host + 1 notetaker

Contextual Inquiries

Although virtual semi-structured interviews could provide us with prominent information efficiently, some nuances can hardly be captured without face-to-face interactions in context. Therefore, one of the team members and I each spent a weekend going on a camping trip with a group of outdoor enthusiasts and conducted contextual inquiries at the campsites.


On top of the three goals mentioned in the semi-structured interview section, we also asked the interviewees to demonstrate how they use related apps during the camping trip to acquire a more thorough understanding of user flows and users’ favorite functions.


3 participants
1 interviewer + voice-recorder



Task Analyses

Our Interviews yielded several different tasks for us to focus on and develop a task analysis for. As our knowledge grew in the problem space we distilled these down to two major tasks that are related. The tasks chosen reflect the major efforts users have to go through to get involved with biodiversity conservation organizations.

Task 1: Join a Conservation Organization

Task 2: Be involved in a Conservation Organization

Affinity Map

We compiled the notes from all semi-structured interviews and contextual inquiries and synthesized a total of 130 stickies using Miro. After recording the notes, we looked for patterns as a team and group the ones with similar themes and eventually came down to 8 main findings.


1.    Our users enjoy feeling peaceful and relaxed in nature.
2.    Lack of time and transportation often prevent our users from taking more active roles in                           conservation activities.
3.    Information on conservation activities is not conveniently accessible.
4.    Communities play a huge role for our users in determining whether to join an activity.
5.    The mobile data is usually unstable at the locations where our users practice outdoor activities.
6.    Whether the users are actively involved in conservation activities, our users are already practicing         some principles of “Leave No Trace”.
7.    Our users often share their outdoor experiences with their friends.
8.    Hands-on activities interest our users.

Design Requirements


1.    The design should allow users to research, identify, and discover biodiversity conservation effort             groups, individuals, and/or organizations.
2.    The design should support/encourage users to share information, organizations, or other media             with other users. 
3.    The design should support group formations, joining of groups, or invitation of others to join groups.


1.    The design should be flexible and recoverable.
2.    The design should have a simple and minimal user interface design.
3.    The design should be highly responsive and clear to the users.
4.    The design should be collaborative and enable users/organizations to collaborate.


Brainstorming & Sketches
Storyboards & Narrative Walkthrough

Top Idea 1: Let’s Play A Game!
I came up with “Let’s Play A Game!” because it accommodates two of the findings from user research. 


  1. Our users mentioned that feeling included was crucial for them. Therefore, having a social network for users to participate in events and activities together can motivate our users to be more involved in conservation. 

  2. Our users expressed the importance of visualizing the progress of their efforts. The impact of biodiversity conservation is often undetectable in a short period, which can frustrate and discourage our users. With “Let’s Play A Game!”, users can visualize their progress from the digital tokens they win from conservation activities.


Visual Design Library (VDL)

I brainstormed on the visual design language first by browsing websites that shared a similar goal in bringing the attention of conservation to people. After analyzing the visual design of the websites, I realized that they shared several design choices. 

  1. The main color schemes are settled on the natural color palette, which includes several shades of green, and some blue and brown. 

  2. The layouts of the websites were all relatively simple and easy to navigate instead of being too fancy. 


Based on the findings, we developed the VDL as follows.



We created a web-based tool that conveys information on local events and courses, allows users to connect with others with similar interests, and provides virtual awards to encourage users’ participation in conservation activities.


Log In & Profile

Groups & Courses

Activities & Events




Due to the time limit and course requirements, we conducted a discount evaluation with another peer group of four. Although they did not necessarily fit the profile of outdoor enthusiasts, they fit all the other user characteristics. Since the participants were experts in the human-computer interaction field, they were able to provide suggestions and critics from experts’ perspectives.

Design requirements we evaluated:
  1. Introduction of the project goals

  2. Cognitive Walkthrough
    I walked through different functions of the prototype to participants while allowing them to ask any questions in the process.

  3. Usability Testing – Think aloud
    We asked the participants to navigate through each page and complete the tasks as they think aloud to share thoughts and feedback on features they came across.
    Task #1: Research and find a conservation effort group that you want to join.
    Task #2: Find a conservation event and share it with your friend.

  4. Survey
    The reason that we included a survey was to get more objective and measurable feedback from the participants.

    • Likert question

      • Measure the learnability and the likelihood of participants to complete tasks using the prototype

    • Open-ended questions 

      • Understand how users feel about the features of the prototype


Based on the feedback from participants, the prototype fulfilled our Functional Design Requirement #1. However, for the Functional Design Requirement #2, the interactions to complete the access of information should be revised to increase the effectiveness.

Additional design recommendations:

  • Visual design content should be consistent with other existing systems.

  • Users should be prevented from re-registrations.

  • Details of labels should be prompted when it is in hover.

  • The flows should be further studied and revised to enhance the efficiency of use.

Future Direction


​Due to time limitations, we finished the project after one evaluation session. However, there were several constructive recommendations given by the participants, and I believe that the prototype could be improved and fulfill our target users’ primary goals.

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