Connecting People to Conservation

We were tasked with identifying a problem and proposing a solution within the realm of sustainability. 
The Focus

After speaking with sustainability experts, our area of focus became local conservation recruitment and involvement.

The Challenge
  • To understand issues currently faced by local conservation efforts and identify areas of opportunity for intervention.

  • To examine and identify how people become involved in conservation activities and organizations.

  • To provide outdoor enthusiasts with the resources and information required to be involved in local conservation efforts.

The Process
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The Result
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We created a platform to inform, connect, and engage outdoor enthusiasts with local conservation efforts. ​

My role in this project was to lead and conduct user experience research and to provide research-based guidance through the design process. I was involved in all research activities presented in this case study. I worked alongside Joyce Wu, Kewal Shah, and Vanessa Lin during the development of this project; a team comprised of designers, a researcher, and a UX engineer.


Problem Space Identification
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Literature Reviews

We conducted broad literature reviews to identify potential problem spaces for us to intervene in. This led us to narrow down our focus to the topic of general environmental conservation. 

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Expert Interviews

We reached out to environmental conservation groups, wildlife experts, and researchers to learn about the existing challenges they face.

Initial Findings

  • Different conservation groups use different methods of recruitment.

  • Awareness campaigns are popular but ineffective.

  • Older outdoor enthusiasts are more likely to engage in conservation activities.

  • It is believed that younger generations (18-30 years old) do not have the time to investigate conservation on their own.

  • ​Recruitment and involvement of young adults in conservation activities is crucial and necessary for the success of future conservation efforts.

User Identification

Our discoveries led us to focus on users with these characteristics:

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Young Adults

18-30 Years old

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How can we get young adult outdoor enthusiasts aware, interested, and involved in conservation efforts?

Research Activities

Contextual Inquiry

Contextual inquiry provides us with a unique perspective of the context in which our users would think about conservation activities. We engaged in outdoor activities while asking questions and had our participants research and sign up for conservation activities.


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We recruited 4 participants from an online camping/hiking group. We engaged in a hike alongside the participants.

Semi-Structured Interviews

The participants recruited for the semi-structured interviews all fit within our user group but were not active in conservation activities. The interviews were able to deep-dive into their perspectives and why they were not involved in conservation.

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Task Analyses

Our contextual inquiry provided us with highly detailed information about how our users completed the tasks. Because this data is highly qualitative we compared and combined the task processes of our participants to create a single task analysis for the task we provided. 

Task 1: Join a Conservation Organization

Task 2: Be involved in a Conservation Organization

Affinity Map

After categorizing 177 notes from 6 interviews and 4 contextual inquiries we found recurring themes in communities, being actively engaged, and a lack of learning resources.

Key Findings from the Research

We distilled our collected data into several findings. We took 3 of our strongest findings and generated design criteria from them. The insight, evidence, and proposed design criteria are shown below.

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Impact of Research

Design Requirements

Through a thorough examination of all of our research activities and findings, we created a set of functional and non-functional design requirements.

Functional Requirements

  • The design should allow users to research, identify, and discover conservation effort groups, individuals, and/or organizations.

  • The design should support group formations, joining of groups, or invitation of others to join groups.

  • The design should support/encourage users to share information, organizations, or other media with other users.

  • The design should provide opportunities for users to engage in hands-on activities.

Non-Functional Requirements

  • The design should be flexible and recoverable.

  • The design should have a simple and minimal user interface design.

  • The design should be highly responsive and clear to the users.

  • The design should be collaborative and enable users/organizations to collaborate.


The requirements set by the research dictated the iterations of the design concepts created and were used as a benchmark to evaluate the success of the 10 concepts.


Conserva is a platform designed to provide passionate people with the resources to be involved in their local conservation efforts. By connecting people with their peers as well as other organizations, Conserva can give anyone the opportunity to contribute to the conservation of their local environments.

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Evaluation Plan

With limited time we decided to conduct a think-aloud with given tasks to evaluate our selected most important design requirements.

Design Requirements to Evaluate

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To assess how our proposed design measured up to our design requirements we conducted a think-aloud with given benchmark tasks in a semi-structured format.

Target Users: Young adults (18-30) who are outdoor enthusiasts that reside in Georgia.

Participants: 4 Target Users

Procedure: Briefly introduce participants to the purpose of the designed system. Allow the participant to freely explore the prototype in a think-aloud scenario for 5 minutes. Provide the participant with the benchmark tasks to complete to test the effectiveness of the designed system. Debrief the participants after the benchmark task completion and allow for comments, questions, and suggestions.

Benchmark Task 1: Find any conservation organization or activity and search for details about what you found.

Benchmark Task 2: Add an activity to your profile and share your information with a friend.

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Our system was effective in meeting our first design requirement but faced challenges in the second. Although users could share information, due to usability issues this function was not as accessible as we specified it to be. 

Design Recommendations
  • Change iconography to match real-world representations.

  • Create standardized spacings for buttons to reduce errors.

  • Alter the gray color used on buttons to enhance contrast.

  • Supplement profile and share flows with additional options.

  • Clarify elements of the profile and community screens.

Through the process, we created a platform to inform, connect, and engage outdoor enthusiasts with local conservation efforts. 
Stay tuned for the next iteration!