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Making Composting Calculations Easy & Accessible

Client: CompostCalc
Design: Creating a landing page, personal dashboard and calculator

 

Timeframe: 2 weeks

Role: Team of 4, UX Designer

Tools: Balsamiq | Axure | Optimal Workshop

Deliverables: competitive analysis | heuristic evaluation | user interviews | user profile | user flow | (2) proto personas | wireframes | usability testing | card sort | Figma hi-fi clickable mockup

1  BACKGROUND

2  RESEARCH

3  ARCHITECTURE

4  PROTOTYPE/ MOCKUPS

5  CONCLUSION

1  BACKGROUND

CompostCalc is a PWA (Progressive Web App) that calculates optimal recipes through their composting calculator. This calculator delivers optimal compost recipes based on data levels of feedstock. The calculator provides the importance to control feedstock; to maintain a nutrient balance of nitrogen heavy organic materials that contain large amounts of carbon (wood chips and leaves) which is the C to N ratio. As well as maintaining an adequate amount of moisture, oxygen flow and temperature: by turning the compost or aerating the pile.

PROBLEM: there's a lack of convenient, easy-to-use and collaborative tool for calculating compost recipes

SOLUTION: create an engaging and intuitive site that allows users to calculate, save and keep track of custom composting recipes.

PRODUCT FEATURES:

  • hi-fi clickable mockups

  • add recipes/ custom feedstock page

  • landing/ homepage

  • calculator & metric system

  • create account page

  • log in page

  • personal dashboard

  • saved recipes page

2  RESEARCH

COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS

My team and I wanted to see what other companies were comparable to CompostCalc and we found 3.​

- Free options are more geared towards backyard composting or small scales.

  • Morning Chores provides feedstock materials upfront

  • Urban Worm gives in-depth explanation of optimal measurements. 

  • Green Mountain doesn't show anything unless you pay $69.99 upfront.

Even though these calculators exist, people who are more experienced in composting refer to their own spreadsheets and internal sources for calculations; based on their knowledge of what the optimal recipes are according to each feedstock.

COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS

Conducted a heuristic evaluation of the current CompostCalc platform. We wanted to gain a better understand of how it works and an initial idea of some pain points that stood out form the get-go.

- Heuristic Evaluation is a thorough assessment  of the website to detect usability errors

GOALS FROM CLIENTS

- We were given great insight to what their ultimate goals were in building this platform and all that's important to them

INTERVIEWS

We were able to interview 6 people, all of which were, in present times, all over the world. We spoke to:

  1. Antoine: who's currently in Lebanon, but travels back and forth to Columbia for his composting startups

  2. Kourtnii: who's in California was more focused on composting within underserved communities

  3. Felipe: who's in Brazil, been in the composting industry for 10+ years

  4. Leah: who's in Bronx, NY was a smaller scale, backyard community composter

  5. Kat: who's in Raleigh, NC works at CompostNow and educates composting beginners

  6. Victor: who's in Jalisco, MX partners with local establishments to divert waste from going to landfills

- Our clients were gracious enough to provide my team and I a list of names; those that they have worked with in the past or just their network of composting friends.

People think compost is just manure. They don't understand the process."

-Antoine, Lebanon

INTERVIEW SYNTHESIS

Most composters track recipes via excel spreadsheets or physical books

7/9 have utilized a composting calculator but no more than 11 times throughout their career

7/9 mentioned they rely on the Cornell composting database for calculations

There is currently no main database where composters can search for and share custom recipes

9/9 were excited about the calculator and its potential to reshape the composting industry

"People are greedy with their compost recipes."

-Victor, Mexico

BUILDING EMPATHY

From the insights of the research and data synthesis, we created 2 proto personas. One is a teacher who is passionate and has great knowledge in composting and the environment. Second persona is very eco-friendly and is learning about composting but has frustrations with the recipes. 

MEET THE USERS:

- The 2 personas rely on key insights from the research process and highlights the importance areas.

USABILITY TESTING

Use Case: "Show us how you would use this calculator"

After getting some background information and insight from our interviewees, we proceeded to asking them if they would participate in a usability testing of the current CompostCalc site. Thankfully, they obliged. 

- The reason why we chose such a simple use case was because there aren't many features built out on the platform. 

LIKES

  • "Modern, fresh way of calculating"

  • Fun to use

  • Provides instant moisture, c:n ratio, and bulk density upon data input

  • Recipe results are clear

DISLIKES

  • Feedstock categorization is misleading

  • Not familiar w/ CY (cubic yard)

  • No options for metric system conversions

  • Can't remove water from equation (not always required)

  • Not enough Feedstock options

  • Difficult to navigate

  • Can't edit saved recipes

  • No data stamps for saved recipes

  • No search function

  • Allows input of (-) amounts

USER FLOW &
PAIN POINTS

We identified some pain points from the current CompostCalc site. Some of the pain points the users were caught off-guard were:

  • no back button from the calculator page

  • can't edit currently saved recipes

  • no conversion for the metric system

2  INFORMATION
ARCHITECTURE

We then proceeded to conducting an open and closed card sorts. 

  • Open, we provided the cards and the users created their own categories

  • Closed, we provided both cards and categories

Closed Card Sort

- It was interesting to see that those working with calculations of composting sorted their cards similarly.

Open Card Sort

EARLY ITERATIONS

 These were some early sketches of what I visioned the calculator/ feedstock/ recipe pages would look like. As a team, we came together and put our brainstorming ideas to use.

Early sketches for proof of concept

Layout of the calculator / feedstock page

Recipe page w/ c:n, moisture, air ratios

 WIREFRAMES

Landing homepage where you can access the calculator directly, go to 'Dashboard', or learn more about CompostCalc.

Dashboard page where you can access 'Recipe Archive', 'Environmental Impact' and 'Recommended Recipes'.

Log In page to access your personal dashboard and/or calculator.

Calculator page w/ c:n, moisture, air ratios; feedstock options and calculations

3  HI-FI MOCKUP

If There Was More Time Available...

Some recommendations and future next steps my team and I would like to advise would be to:

  • Offer a 3-Tier Membership, which consists of 

    • 1st: free use of calculator​

    • 2nd: Create an account and you can save and track 10 free recipes

    • 3rd: Pay for a Premium Membership for a fee and enjoy all the features CompostCalc has to offer

  • Shared Recipes section so the users have access to shared recipes from the composting community

  • Offer more feedstock options as well as adding new feedstock to the calculator

CONCLUSION

My team and I were in contact with the client(s) from beginning to end. It was exhilarating to get hands-on, real-life practice. The members of my team all chose this subject as their first choice. We all had one thing in common: which was beginners interest in composting, recycling, and anything eco friendly. This project has pushed all 4 of us to dive deeper into composting. My husband and I are teaching my daughter, Zion, the importance of recycling at the ripe toddler age of 2. A few weeks before the kickstart of this final project, my husband and I were getting obsessed with gardening, again, teaching Zion, and this project, CompostCalc, could not have come at a more perfect time. I believe I can speak for my team and I, when I say, I learned a TON from the clients, their network and community they introduced us to, and that this topic has opened a whole new world for me.

esthermkim