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Image by Paula Borowska

Lincoln Park Zoo: The UnBEARable Lightness of Website Traffic


The Zoo has a Conservation page which they are sure that zoo-goers will find interesting but it isn't getting the amount of attention that they expected. They tasked us with finding a way to increase engagement.

My Role 

I was one of a team of four that equally split research and design responsiblities.

My Team

Jane Hunnington

Jess Kwok

Sophia Lamphier


We had two weeks to compile research and deliver a high fidelity prototype showcasing our MVPS.


To understand our users we started by surveying people in our circle groups to understand how people interact with zoo's. From there we conducted 18 user interviews to really dig into the heart of the problem.

In our original round of interviews we ound that we had only spoken to a specific demographic: young adults with out kids. To test whether our data held up compared o the demographic we suspected frequented zoos more, we got more data from families and their children when possible. Even though we found some differences, we found some key places that all users overlapped. 

   •Associate zoos with Family, Education and Socializing

   •Have Favorite Animals

   •Hate Crowds and want to be comfortable

   •Want to find their way around easily

   •Concerned about the Environment

   •Learn Visually

   •Have Ethical Concerns About Zoos


To further emphasize with our user, we created the persona of Jakob Riley, a 34 year old living in Downtown Chicago who is excited to show his nephew the Lincoln Park Zoo. To bring his pain points to life, we created a Storyboard to empathize with how a bad day for him at the zoo could go. 


The Problem

Through our research we eventually came to our users problem statement: Jakob needs more control over his zoo experience so that everyone is engaged, entertained, and curious about the animals they came to see. 

For us this created a strong conflict between the stakeholder and our user. While our stakeholder wanted to get to the website to learn more about their conservation efforts, our users really just wanted to have a better time at the zoo. To solve this problem we asked our interviewees four questions: 


How might we empower Jakob to further his learning beyond plaques at the zoo?


How might we recreate the zoo experience when the weather is bad or the animals are sleeping?


How might we have Jakob walk away like he had a meaningful experience with the animals?


How might we make the zoo more accessible to more people?

After we affinity mapped the data, we found that people were interested in having a digital experience that they could enjoy from home or that could augment their zoo going experience. With this we came to the following solutions.

Interactive Map

The interactive map lets the user scroll through the and find live feeds of the animals in the exhibit. In Jakob's story, this would let him check later to see if the animals were up and playing and show his nephew.

Animal Spotlight

The animal spotlight rotates through different animals at the zoo and personifies them to create more interest. For Jakob, information about a new but interesting animal could give him and his nephew one more reason to stay. 

Informational Video Series

The video series are videos that focus on conservation and which allow the user to see zoo content from the comfort of their home. For Jakob, even if they don't go back to the zoo, him and his nephew could still learn about their favorite animals together. 

Wireframes and Testing

Now that we had our MVP features lined out, we had to get to work creating our wireframes and then testing them with our users. 


Before diving straight into the wireframes, we first needed to define our taskflows. In the taskflow to the left, you can see our first pass at what we thought the animal spotlight would look like, though after testing, that flow would evolve many times. 

Some examples of this iteration can be seen below between our first low fidelity wireframe on the left and our mid fidelity wireframe on the right. The main change that we made was moving the original link to the spotlight to the homepage instead of having it exist on an individual page our testers had trouble finding. 


User Testing

After digitizing our wireframes to mid-fidelity we were able to get more concrete data from our users and finetune the Zoo's website. To test we created a concrete testing plan and then tracked our results together. 


While designining our Conservation videos page we realized that we were having difficulty deciding how the information should be arranged. To find the best way to sort the videos, we did a card sort with 4 participants where we learned that people who sort based off of video title will look at themes, where as when people look at a picture, they pay more attention to the species or habitat of the animal. 


After the card sort, we decided to sort four categories that made sense to our users and also promote the zoo's goal of Animal Conservation.

  • Conserving Wildlife

  • Health and Wellness

  • Research Technologies

  • Wildlife and Human Coexistence

After making edits with our data from testing and our wireframes, we were able to come to our final prototype. The success rate on our tasks had been decreased across the board and can be viewed in detail on the charts to the right. 



Final Prototype

In our final prototype we strove to meet the user's need by giving them exciting features that would allow them to replicate the zoo experience digitally. As they engage, we push them towards educational content on Conservation that serves the need of our stakeholder. The full prototype can be used below.

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