eBird Redesign

Individual project. I was tasked with picking an app or other digital product with flaws in the look and feel, emotional response, and UI, and told to focus on visuals and emotions, and re-design for the emotional response I wanted to provoke.
Advanced Graphic Design SI616
project type
UI Emotional Design
  • Emotional Design Critique
  • Persona development
  • Sketching
  • Digital prototyping with Figma
Three phone screens with eBird content side-by-side
project overview
Project: Pick an app or other digital product with flaws in the look and feel, emotional response, and UI. The focus is on visuals and emotions, and redesigning for the emotional response you want to provoke.

Background: The eBird application was developed by Cornell Lab of Ornithology and is an app to log and process bird sightings data. The data is used by both individual birders (tracking personal sightings, life list, etc.), Cornell Lab, the ornithology community, and the conservation community. At its heart, it is a citizen science app that is intended to be accessible to the public and encourage people to input all of their bird sightings information over time.

Motivation: The eBird mobile application interface needs improved usability and appeal to those with no background in science or ornithology.

Goal: Increase feelings of being welcome and capable, excitement about birding, happiness. Presumably, this would increase user retention and active use of eBird which would benefit both individual birders and the scientific and conservation communities.

Limitations and Future Iterations
: This project was for a graphic design class so the design was based on one user (me) and what I would like to feel when using this app and my assumptions about what new users would like to feel. One person is by no means a representative sample of a user base in good UX practice. Personas should be derived from research findings. If I were to continue iterating on this, I'd expand scope beyond emotional design. Aesthetic-usability effect (users perceive products as more usable when they're aesthetically pleasing) only goes so far and emotional response is affected by usability as well. I would want to do a heuristic evaluation to determine usability issues more concretely and ensure I'm addressing them, speak with new eBird users to understand their pain points, and test my design in terms of emotional response related to aesthetic and usability.
emotional design Critique
I first took a look at 8 of the main screens on the eBird mobile application.
A screenshot of the eBird opening app and critique annotations alongside it.
Primary issues I identified and decided address:
1. Clarity in visual design and language usage. Despite being a lifelong birder, I was not familiar with some of the language used on the app.
2. Confusion around branding on the app because the Cornell Lab logo is on the home page of the app, not the eBird logo.
3. The navigational language does not support user mental models for what should be on those pages.
4. Aesthetic of the app feels like it's geared toward (and developed by) scientists, not the average bird-watcher.
Given that this was emotional redesign and not based on user research, the value of personas was limited. However, the creating personas helped me focus on the fact that the many users of the eBird app are not scientists and likely have certain expectations of apps (ease of use, aesthetically pleasing, etc.). eBird is not a tool for most users' job and they may not have the motivation to persist through usability or aesthetic issues.
Images of 3 UX personas
Sketching ideas for my re-design was helpful in determining what the strengths of the current design were, where minor changes would improve the emotional design, and where to add new things.
A paper and pencil simplified sketch of screens for the eBird app
The final deliverable for the project was 8+ high-fidelity mockups of the re-designed screens. Below are several examples of before and after screens.
Before and after screens of the eBird homepage
Before and after screens of the checklists eBird page
Before and after screens of the trips eBird page
Before and after screens of the data eBird page

Let's talk!

Email me at: emilias@umich.edu
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.