Mobile app
Product Designer
A mobile application that empowers volunteers at the University of Washington Farm to cultivate a sense of purpose and community by linking farm progress through an educational and social lens.
Carista Eliani, Angela Goldberg, Cristabel Otero
5 months
A 5-month project for my master’s capstone at MHCI+D
This was the product of my graduate capstone project during my time at MHCI+D. . The problem space that my group and I decided to embark on concerned the University of Washington (UW) Farm and its student volunteer base. Over the course of 5 months, my group and I researched, designed, and prototyped an end-to-end viable product for the Farm that was presented to the industry guests, instructors, and peers during a final showcase.
Providing peer feedback during one of the many critique sessions during design studio.
The UW Farm receives an influx of inexperienced student volunteers
The UW Farm is a 1.5 acre student-powered urban farm & educational facility located on the University of Washington’s Seattle Campus. The Farm is mostly student-run, attracting over 200 volunteers every year. Each quarter, the UW Farm receives an influx of student volunteers coming to the farm to meet a class requirement (also known as service learners). These volunteers are inexperienced and can cause strain on the farm production ecosystem.
Increasing volunteer engagement, retention, and autonomy
We wanted to find a way to better engage service learners and inexperienced student volunteers with the UW Farm community in order to increase volunteer retention, longevity, and autonomy. Through our research, we found that volunteers who tend to stick around for longer found something personal or meaningful through the farm. This led to our design challenge:
"how might we" statement
How might we transition service learning volunteers to becoming repeat volunteers by connecting them with an opportunity on the farm that is personally significant?
My Role
Visual identity, branding, and UI design were my primary contributions
I was responsible for the visual identity, branding, illustrations, and UI design of the mobile app. As part of the design process, I was heavily involved in ideation, wireframing, storyboarding, and information architecture as well. During the research phase, I led four semi-structured user interviews and conducted ethnographic research on the farm.
Leading one of the workshops during the ideation phase of the design process.
Final Concept
Engaging UW Farm volunteers through an education and social lens
Rooted is an educational and social application that provides volunteers the tools to build confidence, meaning, and a sense of connectedness in their role on the farm. Volunteers can learn how each task plays an important role in the growth of a crop and collaboratively contribute to the story of the farm. Through Rooted, volunteers can develop a strong personal connection to the farm.
Concept Video
Qualitative Research
Ethnographic research and semi-structured interviews
To better answer our research question, we volunteered during several open shifts on the Farm. While volunteering, we took note of any volunteer or staff pain points, breakdowns in workflows, and had informal conversations with staff and volunteers.
To immerse ourselves in the project, we volunteered on the farm several times.
During our volunteer shifts, we were able to recruit interview participants. In total, we conducted 11 semi-structured interviews to understand staff and volunteer perspectives on the volunteer program. I led four out of those 11 interviews.
Interviewing the UW Farm Manager during one of the farm shifts.
Key findings
qualitative research
1/ Service learners are mostly extrinsically motivated and repeat volunteers are intrinsically motivated.
2/ Repeat volunteers are reliable because they are autonomous, productive, and can lead newer volunteers.
3/ Farm staff wants a source of information that is going to be conveniently accessible to students.
High-Fidelity Prototype
Prepare for an upcoming shift
Volunteers can view a summary of the upcoming shift on a given day including the shift leads, farm location, tasks, and various educational resources. Volunteers can learn about the importance of certain tasks and which produce these tasks are associated with, as well as watch demonstration videos.
Follow various produce life cycles
Volunteers can favorite and select a specific crop to view and track its entire life cycle, as well as view memories from throughout the various stages. This allows volunteers to learn what is happening at individual stages of growth.
Share memories with members of the farm community
After capturing images of special moments on the farm, volunteers can upload these images to the corresponding growth cycle stage after volunteering. Volunteers can favorite and browse a collection of memories from other shifts and different stages of the growth cycle.
Manage shifts
The Community Engagement and Leadership Center (CELE) at the University of Washington offers community-engaged courses that require students to complete at least 20 hours of volunteer work throughout the quarter. Rooted helps volunteers log their hours, sign up for shifts, and keep track of their progress towards the 20 hour requirement.
© 2023 Emily Shu