Our UX team is helping clean New York’s waters

To stay passionate, grounded and curious, we at Cloudberry assist with projects that empower our community through technology. This summer, we are excited to team with the Billion Oyster Project (BOP), which runs an ambitious effort to restore oysters throughout New York City. Did you know that oysters once flourished in New York City? They not only made for tasty street cart snacks but perhaps more importantly, they helped filter the NY waters from excessive pollution. As the oysters were vastly depleted (thanks to our big appetites), the water quality in turn worsened and continues to suffer today. It’s a fascinating topic and we highly recommend checking out the book, The Big Oyster, which takes a deep-dive into the storied history.

One of BOP’s many tactics, including recycling shells from restaurants, is to maintain oyster cages at key Oyster Research Stations throughout the city. BOP works with a number of public schools to allow for science teachers to take their students to these stations to record environmental conditions and growth measurements. The records are logged in a station-wide platform which exposes data trends and insights. This is where we come in.

The folks at Billion Oyster Project gave us an overview of what students are tasked to do when collecting field data at Oyster Research Stations.

BOP approached us wanting recommendations on how to redesign the experience for students to enter measurements, take photos and log observations into the platform while out in the field. Though it was possible to input data with the existing interface, there was definitely room for improvement and we were happy to uncover it.

After a heuristic analysis, we noticed some hindrances right off the bat: the site was not mobile-optimized, the language was dry and formal and the forms were daunting. We came to some broad hypotheses and were ready to validate it through user research. Through a series of in-depth interviews with teachers and one wet, swampy field trip to observe the stations, the full situation began to reveal itself. And as is often the case, user research findings did not entirely align with our assumptions.

BOP is headquartered on beautiful Governor’s Island, where we got a firsthand experience (and luckily did not fall overboard!)

What did we learn? We will be presenting the full case study (and of course an assorted fresh oyster platter!) at our World Usability Day Event on November 9th.

Categories: Cloudberry, Experience Design
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