Save the Planet

Climate Change Hero
Mobile App Design


How Can An Individual Make A Positive Impact On Climate Change?
The idea for this project came about from a dinner conversation about why people aren’t doing more to find ways to help climate change.  We talked about lack of available info about what individuals can do. Based on our chat, I came up with an idea for a mobile app that would give a new idea to the user every day.  

The EPA has a very informative website showing causes of climate change, and proof that there is a problem.  Their website focuses on educating about the issues, and does have ideas on how to help.,, and also have actions listed, just a bit buried in their stories.  

  • None of these organizations currently have a mobile app that shows how easy it can be for an individual to make an impact.​


Create A Mobile App To Show How Small Actions Can Multiply To Create Big Impact

This independent project focused on multi-dimensional research, and included:

  • User Research
  • Competitive Analysis & UX Strategy
  • Information Architecture
  • Interaction Design
  • SME Input

Additional Challenge: Motivation  

User Research

First Survey
Over 90 people responded to a general survey on climate change. Questions included what they knew, what elements they cared about and to start on motivation, what apps they used everyday.

  • The most surprising finding from the initial survey was that 87% of participants said they were interested in helping climate change, but only 21% actively searched for information on it.

Second Survey
A second, more focused survey, asked what users were currently doing to help climate change, what they couldn't find info on, and for motivation, what reward programs or social networks they were currently active in on their phones.

  • An unexpected result was that a majority of the conversation about climate change is happening at the dinner table.  There were other sources, but this by far was the most common.

One-on-one Follow-ups
Real conversations with potential users clarified interests, excitement and what got them to open apps in their phone everyday. It identified:

  • Distinct views between generations
  • Ideas for features
  • Specific motivators to consider

SME Connections
The day I started this project, I reached out to all the big agencies that provided info about climate change and asked if anyone would be available to speak with me about my app idea.  

  • Initial contact with the EPA team outlined the steps to set up a meeting. Applied to their program to partner, and develop project ideas that contribute to the EPA's overall mission.

Persona Development
Creating personas for this project included 2 distinctions: a generational viewpoint, and marital status.  

  • Tyla Carson: Conscious Millennial. "I want to save my planet."
  • Natalie Thomas: Suburban Mom. "I want to save the planet for my kids and future generations."

Competitive Analysis & UX Strategy

SWOT Analysis

  • Environmental apps in the market: lacking motivation/engagement technique
  • Apps that people use everyday: How can I tap into what keeps them coming back?

Engagement Review
Research analysis found that a combination was key to broad appeal:

  • Social engagement/support
  • In-app rewards
  • Levels of achievement

Information Architecture


  • Tyla: wants to add friends to join the daily activity
  • Natalie: wants local events the family can be a part of
  • General: info on activity, calendar to save for another day, awards for referring friends and links to general climate change news

Realizing I needed a concept to tie it all together, I chose an initial title/icon of "Climate Change Hero", which helped to organize features and give titles to sections.

Interaction Design

Usability Testing

Since timing was tight, the initial wireframes were shown to potential users to get feedback. I asked them to complete several tasks to discover:

  1. Is the bottom navigation intuitive? Are the words below the icons necessary?
  2. Is the quest action simple and easy? What would make it better?
  3. Is the awards system generally motivating? What doesn't work?
  4. Can the user easily add/find friends to share with?
  5. What does the "Hero" concept mean to the user? Overall feeling?

Design Challenges
Excitement for the project: Yes!
Challenges: A few...

“If the user has already done the suggested quest of the day, is there an alternative?”

  • Since both Natalie and Tyla have already have some great habits in their lifestyles, it’s possible they’ve already completed the day’s action.  An alternative makes sense, and the button was easy to add. 
  • It took the place of the “Create a Team Quest” button, as this feature was something that could be added in V2.

“What if you want to do the quest of the day but you’re on vacation?”

  • This meant re-thinking the simplicity of the landing screen, and adding a quest log.  It added one step to complete the process, but made a lot more sense for the user.

“The awards levels are not different enough, and at the beginning they should come more frequently.  First quest, first week, first 500 points, etc.”

  • Learning a little from the gaming market about when to give awards was essential to making them work, so minor side research helped with new level names and a lower numbered point system.

“The Hero logo could be improved upon.  The concept idea is cute, but the logo could be more modern.”

  • Definitely agree.  The brand concept was created in a very short time to have something to get started with.

I happened to attend a Mobile Growth Meetup, where the panel discussion focused on retaining users to apps once downloaded.  One of the topics was when to introduce notification permission. The panel confirmed success with waiting to ask for permission until right after an action that the user would want to receive one for.  

Push notifications: Wait to ask until after first opportunity to use. "Would you like to receive a notification tomorrow showing the combined impact of everyone that completed today's quest?"

SME Input: Meeting With The EPA Team

Just as I was finishing the revisions on the wireframes, I got an email from the team at the EPA requesting a meeting with SMEs!  It was so exciting to hear they had interest in my project, and I was honored to be able to talk with really smart people who focus on helping climate change every day.

We covered a lot in our conference call. Here are the main topics, and how they affected my project:

  • How do I ensure information sources are credible?
  • If the research isn't government sponsored, can be challenging to confirm credibility
  • Scientific carbon footprint measurement on small, everyday activities is very challenging, if almost impossible
  • Many aspects of climate change don't have government sponsored research. (Meat/vegan diets, etc.)

The entire team I spoke with could not have been more supportive and wonderful.  They provided amazing insight and inspiration that opened my eyes to elements of the project I never considered.  Thank you to each of them for their time and attention to my little app idea!

Thinking Back, Looking Forward

Everyone I’ve told about this project has been excited about it, so I would love to continue working through the challenges, push forward, and eventually go live.

  1. Learning to pivot: the EPA effectively shot down my initial approach since everyday actions couldn't be measured easily to multiply at scale. Need to re-think the engagement concept. Keep levels, awards for each. Could still include actions, knowledge games, etc.

  1. Motivation is still a focus, and need to test ideas for new concepts.

  1. The logo needs updated, and appropriate for a range of audiences. (Also needs to be tested).

  1. ‍Find a SME that I can connect with more frequently, as I work through new ideas.

There is certainly a need for a project like this, especially with the current state of the EPA's limitations. Let me know if you're interested in partnering to help bring this idea to life!

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2017 Arin Clement