CrowdCurio

Citizen-science web platform

When
2015
What
User research, user interviews, interface design, prototyping, development

Summary

I helped design and build the initial layout of the app by synthesizing user research, creating wireframes, prototypes, and code. As the first designer and front-end developer for the organization, it was my responsibility to bring the idea to life.

A screenshot of the home page, featuring various projects.

Background

CrowdCurio is a crowdsourced platform that allows everyday people or “citizen scientists” to contribute to scientific research. Similar to sites like Galaxy Zoo, it relies on users to help sort and catalog data that would otherwise be very difficult or impossible to do with machines. As a platform, it was meant for anyone and everyone to be able to share, conduct, and contribute to experiments across the world.

I worked with Dr. Edith Law to scope and plan out the project requirements, and helped convert user needs into tangible features.

Measuring success

Crowd Curio initially had several goals:

  • allow for the uploading & management of experiments by “scientist” users
  • gamify the experiments to increase engagement
  • create custom modules/interfaces for the different types of research topics
  • make new experiments easily discoverable

To satisfy these needs, I started off by creating several paper wireframes and a site map. After the design iterations, I created an HTML prototype.

Wireframe designs to explore the interaction and features of the platform.
Initial prototype screenshots, Spring 2015.

Designs

The project had a fairly large scope, so a team of 2 people couldn't easily realize all the requirements in a short amount of time. We recorded down the feature requirements and started working on the low-hanging fruit.

After planning out the platform structure, I directed design and development towards one specific pilot project, with an interface optimized for that singular experiment. With user testing, I then determined the best layout, interests, and what gamification elements worked best, to make adjustments accordingly.

The finalized design implementation for Thoreau's Field Notes, Spring 2015.

Development

I created the prototype and the app using a combination of HTML, CSS, and Django.

Results and reflections

The platform began making progress after the launch of the MVP and began seeing traction with a few users. However, as with all platforms, they truly thrive only when the user-base grows, and having only one project meant that there wasn't much to attract recurring users besides their altruistic intentions. To grow, Crowd Curio needs to build more projects and publish results (once there is enough data) to show people the potential of citizen science.