UX Research, Design, and Evaluation - Adobe XD - University of Melbourne - March, 2019 - June, 2019


RecycleNow is a phone application designed to help educate users about recycling and promote good waste management habits in a fun and intuitive way. The application contains recycling tips, provides help in finding nearby disposal bins, and has a recycling log allowing the user to track their recycling.


The challenge

The challenge of this project was to identify an immediate issue for Melbourne residents and use the user centered design process to design a tech-based solution. For our project, my team decided to focus on improving the poor recycling habits of Melbourne residents.

My role

For this project each of us took on a relatively equal part of all phases of the research, design development, and testing since the goal was for everyone to get experience with the end to end user-centered design process. Areas where I contributed in a larger role included creating the user persona, creating the high fidelity prototype, and creating/facilitating the user tests.

User research

Finding the target audience

To begin solving the complex problem of improving Melbournians' recycling habits, we decided to interview local residents to find out what issues they were currently facing when it came to recycling, why they were facing those issues, and identify a specific target audience.

Guiding questions

1. How can this application help people dispose of items in a more environmentally friendly way?

2. What kinds of technologies are best suited for a recycling application?

3. How can we make this an engaging app which will have a real impact and users will actually use?


The subjects we interviewed were three young adults, one child, and one elderly subject. The main factors involved in choosing these interviewees were their diversity in background, varied knowledge and experience with recycling and technology, and availability for interviewing due to the project time constraints. Each member of the team interviewed one user.

Sample interview questions

1. How important is recycling to you?

2. What do you usually do with old/unused items?

3. *Interviewer shows a list of common incorrectly disposed items* How do you normal dispose of each of these items?

4. How often do you use technology and what kinds of devices do you use?

Research insights

Major Findings

1. Participants, while somewhat aware of the positive impacts of recycling, were not always motivated to recycle because of a lack of knowledge about how to dispose of a certain items.

2. Participants found it hard to find easily accessible and informative bins when out in public.

3. Participants also became easily discouraged if recycling an item ended up being a significant time burden.


Understanding the user

We decided that our target demographic would be college-aged adults since we determined that they are most comfortable with new technology trends and that since they are in phase of transition to a more independent lifestyle, this tool would be useful in helping shape their habits. Designing for this group would also cover most of the edge cases from the other demographics we interviewed. We determined that the target users’ main goal was to be able to quickly learn how to and where to dispose of an item without it being a significant time burden.

Feature creation

Outlining core tasks

Our next step was to put pen to paper start defining our solution. We started by the identifying feasible features that would define our mobile application and outlining them to evaluate what the user actions would be and how our system would respond.


1. Ability to locate and navigate to a nearby recycling bin
2. Quick recycling tips
3. Search for or take a picture of an item to find disposal info
4. Track the number of items recycled

Core tasks

1. Determine how to dispose of an item
2. Find where to properly dispose of an item
3. Find tips for lowering waste

Initial designs


The next step in the process was to begin sketching out different ideas of possible application designs. We used a 10x10 approach to explore different ideas and converge on an initial design that closely matched the target user's needs and design requirements.

(Courtesy of Elizabeth Mary May)

Paper prototype

Once we were in agreement on an initial design, we created a paper-based prototype that we could use to begin testing our design assumptions. We tested it using a cognitive walkthrough to do a preliminary evaluation of the usability of our design and to see if it would be easy for users to carry out our core tasks. Our insights included small, but significant changes such as changing the filter layout to make it easier to use and using a back button rather than an x to exit the camera screen. Below are some of the screens I created for the prototype.

High fidelity designs

Creating the prototype

One we decided that we were confident in our design, I created a high fidelity prototype that we could test with target users to validate our design choices and to use as a presentation tool to show what our app experience would actually look like.

Check out the prototype

Check out the prototype

User testing

User task analysis

Our goal for the user testing was to find out how much time each of our core tasks took the target user and whether or not the users could complete the tasks in the most efficient way possible. I designed the tests using Tobii studio allowing the user's eye movements and actions to be tracked and recorded. After each task participants filled out a short questionnaire where they rated their ability to complete the task and identified any difficulties they had. After completing all of the tasks, participants were engaged in an open-ended discussion about their experience using the prototype.

Tasks we tested

1.  Find out how to correctly dispose of an apple
2. Find the closest bin where you can dispose of the apple
3. Log the apple that you recycled
4. Find out some ways to improve your disposal habits

User testing insights

Major Findings

1. Using the filter screen when trying to locate a nearby bin was not intuitive
2. The functionality of the camera was unclear and not easily discoverable
3. Users expected/desired that the recycling log have additional features such as type of item or weight to make it more satisfying to use
4. There were also recommendations to call it a recycling counter instead as the term "log" led to confusion about its functionalities
5. Navigating around the app was not always efficient or easy

Sample heat map

The heat map of the landing page shows that it was observed using an F-shaped pattern and validated our overall layout design choices. However, due to the camera icon's location relative to the search bar and size, users opted to use the search bar to find out how to dispose of an item rather than the camera. The goal of the app was to make the camera the primary method for finding out how to dispose of an item. When using the prototype, users claimed that they either did not see the camera icon or did not know what its functionality was.


Refining the prototype

Due to the time constraints of the project, a full redesign was not possible, but I created some mockups of what the updated app would look like. Using the user testing insights, I iteratively attempted to solve the issue of the camera functionality not being discoverable and understandable as well as recreating the recycling log to make it a more intuitive and engaging feature.


Refining the prototype

Due to the time constraints of the project, a full redesign was not possible, but I created some mockups of what the updated app would look like. Using the user testing insights, I iteratively attempted to solve the issue of the camera functionality not being discoverable and understandable as well as recreating the recycling log to make it a more intuitive and engaging feature.


Reflecting on the project

This project was a great way for me to engage in and learn about the mobile user experience design process. It gave me hands on experience working with a team to identify problems and establish requirements, work with real users, learn how to rapidly develop low and high fidelity prototypes using industry software, conduct effective user tests, as well as how to interpret and use that data to inform future iterations of the design. Since my other group members were also not experienced UX designers and came from a variety of different majors, I also learned a lot about how to work with people with different knowledge backgrounds and how their different perspectives and strengths brought a unique perspective to the design thinking process.

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