UW Botanical Gardens
A Citizen Science Case Study
As a part of CSS 478: Usability And User-Centered Design, our team conducted usability testing on a prototype for the UW Botanical Gardens App. The purpose of the app is to allow users to navigate through the gardens and collect citizen science data for researchers.
The following tasks were given to our participants:
Locate a plant within the garden
The participant was told that they had arrived at the UW Botanical Gardens and wanted to see a specific plant. The participant was then asked to use the app to find the plant and navigate to it.
Record plant data for research
After locating the plant in the garden, the participant was then told to use the app to take a picture of it and submit a report of the plant's condition for a citizen science research project.
Our primary persona, Nylah is an avid gardener that volunteers her free time at the botanic gardens.
Our secondary persona, Kai is a designer that visits the gardens to go on walks and find inspiration
Our third persona, Jennifer is a mom looking for outdoor activities to do with her children
Unfortunately, our group was unable to connect with volunteers from the gardens, our primary persona group, to test our prototype. Instead, we each found a friend or family member that would closely resemble our secondary prototype and shifted our focus to researching how the app would be used by regular visitors. We found 4 different participants to test our prototype on: Sang, Diego, Sawyer, and Malayah. The ages of our participants ranged from 23-31.
Users without gardening experience felt under qualified to report the plant’s condition
Users wanted confirmation that their plant data was submitted successfully
Users had trouble identifying which icon on the map represented the plant because the map screenshot had purple dots on it
Users were confused by the meaning of the plant data icon whether it lets the user collect the data or read the data
Users wanted the path from their current location to the plant they are searching for to be highlighted
Users wanted more information on citizen science and why they were collecting data
After each team member had completed their usability test, we came together as a group to compare notes. The following is a list of observations we made:
Conducting usability test on our prototype made our team aware of details we had overlooked during the design process. By using a "show don't tell" approach, our participants were able to give us honest feedback on our product and see where they were having trouble.
Using the feedback from our participants, we will be able to make adjustments to our prototype and look into adding some of the features they had suggested such as plant condition guides, improving the map with icons that are easy to identify, and implementing a rewards system to encourage more users to participate.