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About the Project

"Pawsitively" is concept project partnering with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). This project was completed solo as the capstone to MICA's UXD Masters program. The proposal is designed for a mobile device and connects both adults and children with a fun and educational AR experience. Discovering endangered species both on and off AZA accredited locations, the app educates the users on the animal they've "discovered" and suggests participating in conservation efforts to help animals and environments in need.

Date Created: Jan, 2022
Project Type: Mobile AR App
Design Tools: Figma, After Effects, Photoshop, Media Encoder
Duration: 16 weeks
My Role: Project Manager, Creative Director, UX Designer, UX Researcher, Motion Designer, Protoyping


16 week Gant

Because this project was done as my capstone the duration was broken up into 5 phases that took place over 16 weeks. The first 8 weeks were dedicated to just the Discovery phase. This phase was made up of background research, market research, user identification and design assumptions considerations. The final 8 weeks consisted of the last 4 phases Preparation, Design, Testing, and Launch. These phases included field research, design iterations, prototyping, usability testing, data analysis, and finally the presentation.

Can engaging and fun education, at the point of contact, drive users to participate in more conservation awareness and efforts?


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• Engage our audience in edutainment*?
• Make conservation participation more accessible?
• Create an educational experience for adults and        children alike?


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*Edutainment is the combination of education and entertainment with the end goal of making learning fun.




Background Research

This includes market research, risk analysis, target audience identification, competitive analysis, and general research into the AZA and how conservation efforts currently market themselves 

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User Testing

During my Prototype and testing phase I gathered 6 users from within my target audience and tested their experience with my prototype, gathered data, and made adjustments


Interviews & Polling

Throughout the course of this project I engaged my target audience through online polls and in person interviews in order to gain key insights to test my assumptions



This project gave me the opportunity to conduct research at an AZA accredited location. Here I spoke to Zoo employees, volunteers, and guests to gain unique insights



• Almost 1/10th of the worlds population visits Zoos and Aquariums every year
• 3 pain points of why 
conservation engagement is low is due to a lack of program awareness, not knowing how to engage other than donating money, and a general feeling of being guilt tripped

• Families with children under the age of 11 are the most frequent visitors to Zoos and Aquariums

• On average in the US children receive their first smart phone at 11-12 years old

• Zoos and aquariums MAY avoid naming their animals in order to keep guests from forming potentially harmful bonds with the animals, this includes avoiding promoting illegal exotic pets

• While usability testing I learned that despite this being an educational app perceived "blocks" of text was very off-putting

• Users were happy to read background information about the app's credibility despite their desire for less text


Because of the short timeline of this project I went straight from my wireframe sketches into a higher end mid-fidelity prototype. This prototype was made to be nearly fully functional and the feedback received during user testing brought it to its current high fidelity. Designs were made using Figma and additional animation and motion design was added using After Effects and Photoshop.

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1. Isolate the best features

   • AR camera discovery

   • Identification and Collection

   • Spotlight features of animals/establishments/conservation efforts

   • Location specific services

2. Organize the flow

3. Sketch it out

4. Translate sketches to mid and high fidelity prototypes

5. Test design protoypes

6. Finalize design and branding

mid-fi screens
Hi-Fi Screens

Hover over the phone screens to see design changes

Home Feed
Animal Identification Page
Conservation Listings


Color Palette

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App Icon

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Pawsitively is an obvious animal- based play on words for Positively. Referring to how the goal is to get users to to enjoy making positive changes for animal education and conservation. It also refers to the shift of moving the reputations of Zoos and Aquariums in a more positive direction.


Branding research was conducted via anonymous survey for which there were 3 product names and tag lines pitched alongside a description of the app's functionality and a handful of screen examples. "Pawsitively - Positive Change starts with fun." received the majority vote.


User feedback was gathered on pen and paper and I made notes of any comments repeated by several users in order to track priority. When exposed to the high fidelity prototype ALL participants enjoyed the experience and were excited to pitch additional feature injection.


Certain animations had to be developed in Adobe After Effects and then go through a series of specific conversion steps in order to be playable as a gif in the Figma prototype.


Utilizing Figma's interactive component sets allowed for easily programmable features with smooth functionality.

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Feature Set

Home Feed

• Spotlight Animals of the Week: Every week the user will be shown seven animals they may or may not have discovered that are being spotlighted for additional awareness support and off-site experience.

• Conservation Efforts Listings: Sort by engagement type, donating, actively participating (including physical efforts, and petitioning governments), and what is nearby. See the active conservation efforts supported directly by the AZA to encourage credibility. Each listing gives a breakdown of the effort, links to their homepage, and if applicable, events that can be added to your calendar for active participation.

• Locations List: See all of the closest Zoos and Aquariums accredited by the AZA. All listings provide a short description of the establishment and their missions, with a link to their homepages. You can sort by distance, and if they are a zoo or aquarium.

• News Feed: An aggregated list of current and trending news stories in animal conservation efforts, scientific findings, and education. All news cards take you out of the app and bring you directly to the article's source for the full story.

•Search: Enjoy a robust search feature, with fast popular searches on specific kinds of animals, filters, habitats, and more.


• AR: Open your Camera to scan QR codes and discovery 3D animated species.

• Flash Warning: Most locations will ask you to keep flash off to protect their animals so we provide a warning to make sure users are aware of their surroundings.

• AR Toggle: Battery life is definitely a concern with AR so we have a toggle to turn off AR and see your animal in an illustrated environment.

• Animate Button: This will cycle through the 4 animations a model can perform.

• Identify Button: Tap the paw print button to "identify" the animal and see it's information page and add it to your Guide Book.

Animal Page

• Favorite: You can mark an animal as your favorite to get more suggested content related to this species in the future and make it a priority in your Guide Book.

• Information Tab Buttons: To see more fun facts, alternate animations, photos, videos, sound recordings, habitat ranges, and if applicable, which zoo you can see this animal.

• Definitions: Some of the bigger and more scientific words are clickable for users to learn their definition.

Guide Book

• Favorites: All animals marked as favorites are populated at the top of the list.

• Alphabetical Sorting: Identified animals are sorted alphabetically and will take users to the animal page when tapped and give them forever access to their AR models.

• Updates: Animals with any updates to their status or new news will be indicated here.



• Outlining Future Features

  • Conservation Engagement Bar

  • Wander Mode

  • Personal Priorities and Preferences

•​ Securing a partnership with the AZA

• Testing assumptions for child users.

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