Woodland Park Jr.
Duration: ~ 3 months
Roles: User Researcher, User Experience Designer, Illustrator
Woodland Park Jr. is an educational app and scavenger hunt experience for families and kids who attend the Woodland Park Zoo. With our app, families and kids can scan and collect animal cards scattered throughout the zoo and answer educational questions to earn points along the way. After their visit, kids can use their points to access educational games and activities and continue learning. The goal for our team was to design a project for the zoo's empathy initiative, which strives to promote empathy for animals and drive conservation efforts.
Our first step was to understand empathy and the practices used by the zoo to increase engagement with visitors. We began with stakeholder research, taking notes on the Woodland Park Zoo's official website. We also interviewed the people involved with the zoo's empathy initiative to learn more about their requirements directly. Lastly, we conducted an ethnographic observation at the zoo to take note of critical behaviors, demographics, and pain points of visitors. Our research concluded that younger kids (between the ages of 5-10) would be our target users, as zoos typically apply empathy practices for animals towards children. We also discovered that children are also more likely to influence parental behavior regarding conservation efforts. From here, our team studied our primary users (kids) and our secondary users (parents) through interviews. After completing mid-fidelity mockups, we conducted usability testing to collect user feedback on our designs, which helped us work out any kinks in our user interface and the overall concept of the app.
Based on our interviews and the research we conducted, we identified the following pain points:
Families find that navigating the zoo can be complicated and confusing.
Existing educational information about the animals is not typically written for younger kids to comprehend.
Kids will move on faster when looking at less commonly known animals.
To create an experience that aligned with our goals to promote empathy for animals, these were the following requirements that guided our design decisions:
Introduce more kid-friendly activities to keep families engaged. Our research showed that animal education and empathy had a direct correlation.
Opportunity to include technology to enhance the zoo experience without taking away from the physical environment.
Make navigating the zoo easier and less frustrating.
Tell stories that describe animals using empathy practices to develop long-term relationships between the visitors and the animals.
Based on our user research, we created personas that helped us sympathize and identify our key users and their needs and frustrations.
I designed the logo for our app, taking inspiration from the Woodland Park zoo's logo. Since our app appealed to kids, I used vibrant and energetic colors and chose a casual and playful script font. I also added a giraffe illustration to act as a graphic element for the logo.
We then worked on Figma to complete the high-fidelity mockups of our app prototype. Our final design consisted of two main components: an in-zoo experience and an at-home experience.
For the in-zoo experience, we designed a scavenger hunt where kids can use a mobile device to scan animal cards that they collect throughout the zoo. Each card features an animal, the animal's name, and a set of instructions. Collecting each card adds the animal to their friends' list, which will allow them to keep up with the animal after their visit.
Users can then keep track of their scavenger progress in the app and read more information about the animals they've discovered. We also designed a map for users to find more animal exhibits easily.
For the at-home experience, the app changes into landscape mode. Here, kids have access to various animal-related activities, such as reading stories, coloring, playing games, and more. The at-home portion of the app extends the empathetic practices after their visit.
This design was an exciting project for me, as it helped me continue learning the process of ideating based on research and allowing users to inform design decisions. It was also a fun challenge to consider designing technology that enhances a physical environment and ensuring that it doesn't interfere with that experience. Our mockups showed potential directions for Woodland Park Zoo to use technology as a medium for increasing empathy towards animals.