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Zoo Atlanta App

Conservation Misson

Project type:

Industry Collaboration


3 months


4 members


Lead designer & assistant researcher

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Design Process


Problem Statement

How Might We Increase Communication of Zoo Atlanta’s Conservation Mission to the College-age and Young Professional Demographic?


The college-age and young professional crowd very seldom make the trip to the zoo without a child to induce them. This highlights the topic space aimed for by Zoo Atlanta: “Increasing communication of Zoo Atlanta’s Conservation Mission to the college-age and young professional demographic.” By extension, this topic space defines the target users as the college-age and young professional groups. The behavior of interest that Zoo Atlanta intends to cultivate is an increase of attendance to the zoo by this user group and the improvement of groups' awareness of the zoo’s conservation mission

Improving the communication of Zoo Atlanta’s conservation mission beyond the typical audience drawn to the zoo to see the animals (general kids on school trips or adults bringing their kids) will have a major impact in two veins: increasing monetary support to the conservation mission and improving the perception of zoos and their importance in the overall protection of our planet. 


Contextual Inquiry

We take five Georgia Tech students to the zoo on a Saturday and walk through the Gorilla and Panda exhibits, allowing the students to interact without direction. 

The user interactions recorded during the contextual inquiry provided significant insight into how the users interacted with the various exhibits when they were not prompted to focus on the zoo’s conservation mission. All the users naturally interacted with some of the conservation signs but were less interested in reading signs at every exhibit over watching the animals. They felt signs with too much writing and videos featuring humans talking were distracting from what their interests. This implies a requirement for a design that provides conservation information while supporting animal watching.  Another theme that arose focused on interactive tools. All the users were interested in the activities they could “play” with as opposed to signs they merely could read. 


Focus Group


After conducting a contextual inquiry, we gather the volunteer zoo visitors and conduct a Focus Group session. 

Several themes were drawn from the focus group answers. The most consistent theme that arose is that users did not know how they could do to get involved, support, or event discover further information about the conservation missions. Although the users agreed they did not have the free time to physically get involved in the conservation program, they were interested in providing monetary donations or know about small changes they could make in their everyday life. Another identified theme was that users constantly asked for additional information and seemed unaware of the current channels of receiving updates.  We suspect there is a window of opportunity involved in getting the targeted user group interested and involved in the conservation mission. 

Task Analysis

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Personas & Empathy Map

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Key Insights


Users tend to ignore signs/displays that distract from watching the animals. This particularly applied to signs and displays en route between enclosures.


Users are aware of the conservation mission but do not know what actions they can take to support.


The targeted user group is not aware that the zoo is utilizing the common social network platforms to communicate the conservation mission.


Users are unaware of how their personal contributions are utilized in support of wildlife conservation.


The targeted user group feels a disconnect between the positive status of animals inside the zoo and the animals’ endangered status in wildlife.

Design Indications


Diverge Design


Final Design

After we gathered feedback from users on the three ideas, we decided to move forward with the Virtual Adoption App. This app was developed into a wireframe with an interactive walkthrough of the major functionality. The Virtual Adoption App was chosen as the design to move forward with based on the positive feedback by all the queried users about the novelty of the app. 

​Information Architecture
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Annotated Prototype 
Home Page
Virtual Adoption - View Animal
Virtual Adoption - Adopt Process
Virtual Adoption - Adoption Complete
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Interative Prototype



We used the expert-based evaluation and user-based evaluation to testing out our design. For expert-based evaluation, we conduct a cognitive walkthrough with 3 user-experience experts to identify the major interface design flaws and problems of the user experience flow. For user-based evaluation, we use moderated in-person traditional user-based testing in which we give them tasks and collect quantitative and qualitative data.

Next Steps

1. Build in a short explanation page describing what adopting an animal means and what advantages the user gains by giving a donation to complete the process.


2. Allow the user to program all the exhibits they want to visit so the app prompts their movements through the zoo. 


3. Reinforce how the donations are being used to support conservation. Potentially include a goal tracker for different support options. 

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