Sustainability and effortless positive impact on our world — a UX case study

6 min readOct 28, 2020


Let us conduct a field research for environmental and social issues with actual users. What does our target group really needs, are our hypothesis right or will our user research show different?

My Role: User Research Student, User Testing, Data Gathering and Analytics.
Performing Quantitative and Qualitative field studies.

School: Hyper Island
Timeline: 4 weeks

Discovering Briefs

First I wanted to know how aware and involved people are regarding environmental issues in their daily lives. To get this vision I started with a Persona named Raven which gives a better idea of the target group, the needs, behaviours and wants. This persona was created with assumptions and not fully research-based, however throughout the project I will showcase real personas based on actual interviews.


Raven wants to contribute to a better world but she doesn’t know how to take her actions to the next level. Here is an opportunity and at the same time a problem we will have to find a solution for.


To get a better understanding of the users, we will dive into the market by empathising on the target group, their needs and wants. Therefore I created the Kick-off Canvas as mentioned here:

Kick-off Canvas

Around 3 top features came out that could be critical for a succesfull concept:
1. A feature for users to create more awarenes
2. A feature to stay up to date and still save time
3. A feature that makes it fun to donate (Gamifying)

The business benefit is creating more awareness and at the same time resulting in an increase of users.

With the needs in our minds I could start prioritising them, these are all based on hypothesis, in the model below I noted all the needs into what users find important vs less important, and on the other axis what we think that needs research or already been proven.

Prioritisation of hypothesis

In the next section we will go into broad research to find out how well these hypothesis have been put together. Later on I will remake this model and let us compare the differences with before and after.

“When you make assumptions about your users, you run the risk of being wrong. When you embed wrong assumptions in the design, you alienate people.” — Erica Hall

Broad research

Now that we have a better overview of our target group, we can start with the qualitative research method. I used two methods; User Interviews and Card sorting. With the users needs in mind I started writing down 9 hypothesis, I will use 3 hypothesis which I found most relevant:

The Experiment Guide

To find out if these hypothesis are correct, I first came up with around 3 questions per hypothesis and added them in the Interview guide. Next, I created a survey that was completed by 23 participants. And out of this survey I managed to contact 5 participants that I was able to interview.

The survey is a great tool for quickly gathering information from a sample of my target audience, it was the only quantitative research method I used. In overall I find the results quite positive, participants do feel involved in environmental issues and are open minded in trying new things like technology that could improve our environment.

The Survey

Here is the link to the Online Survey, feel free to fill it in yourself!

Because of the Covid-19 situation I conducted online Zoom interviews with 5 people. The interviews allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of the participant’s behaviors:

The Interview

It is good to mention that the other 3 partcicipants in general gave similar answers:
Tom (30) — Dutch / working for Salesforce
Eirini (30) — Greek / currently seeking opportunities
Luc (24) — Dutch / worked for a environmental initiative before

Throughout the interviews, I noticed four themes.

First, everyone was in a way optimistic about trusting environmental initiatives, as mentioned above, Maria even finds it the responsibility to do your own research before donating. My hypothsis believed that users have a hard time trusting initiatives.

Second, I noticed that participants in general care about doing good for our world and that we should all become more aware of these environmental issues.

Then, I believed that most participants have a hard time dealing with their work life balance and their time while making a change for the environment, and so the hypothesis was wrong. Having a busy work life has not much impact on users that want to make a change.

Finally, it was obvious that the participants stayed informed by following the general newspapers and media. There was no specific news source they followed specialized in these kind of topics.


The interviews gave me a lot of insights about the needs and wants of my target group. I used the 3 hypothesis as mentioned and devided them in Quotes which I got from the interviews, insights, principles and ending with next steps:

Qualitiative research

The user research brought me on several ideas; having a look to the 3rd hypothesis “We believe that users want to be social influencers” -> I prepared questions to validate this hypothesis. After those questions I received several answers which I quoted and they brought me the following results:

Insights: Doesn’t have the need to be a social influencer but likes to talk to friends and strangers about these topics.

Principle: Social gatherings regarding these topics could be a nice goal for users in their free time.

Next Steps: How might we let our users come together and discuss openly about these topics?

In the next section “Card sorting and solutions” I will go into the Next steps and come up with ideas that might be interesting to start desigining.

After hypothesis

As mentioned earlier in the article I wanted to make a after hypothesis and show the difference before and after the research. In the “After hypothesis” model above, you clearly see that the hypothesis have shifted from the right side (Unkown) to the (Known) side of the axis. What is interesting to see is the concentration of importance.

Card sorting and solutions

The two solutions that came out


4 weeks of gathering quantitative and qualitative data was a very interesting journey for me. I never thought that doing research is something I would see myself doing in the near future but it is such an important aspect of the Design process. I’m aware of gaining more experience within researching projects before you will get to a certain confidence level.

I’m all up for that, and please to say that this is my first official user research using these methods, and many more to come!