Virtual Ecology

Virtual Ecology is an immersive website showcasing the Kamiak Butte VR project, complemented by additional resources and virtual field trips. This collaborative endeavor involves professors, undergraduate, and graduate students with the goal of virtually bringing the natural environment of Kamiak Butte to students.

Position

UI & User Experinece Designer

Timeline

August 2020 – May 2023

Team

50+ Students & Faculty

The Problem

The emergence of Covid-19 and the subsequent shift to distance learning posed a significant challenge for the Natural Resource Ecology course in the School of the Environment. The traditional physical field trips, vital for hands-on learning experiences, were rendered unfeasible due to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic. This created a gap in experiential learning, prompting the need for an innovative solution to continue providing students with an immersive understanding of local ecology despite the constraints of remote education.

COVID-19

Distance Learning

Lack of Virtual Field Trips

Project Goals

To address this challenge, a website was deemed essential. This platform would serve as a virtual hub for students, offering a centralized space to discover virtual field trips, access instructions on how to navigate them, and gather additional supportive resources related to each field site. The goal was to recreate the hands-on learning experience virtually, ensuring students could engage with the material and environment even in a remote setting.

Remote Access

Engaging Content

Instructional Support

Design Process

The design process for Virtual Ecology was a dynamic and collaborative effort. It began with a comprehensive assessment of the challenges posed by the shift to distance learning, particularly the absence of physical field trips due to Covid-19 restrictions. The need for a virtual solution prompted the conceptualization of a website.

Various Iterative Designs 

Color & Typograghy

Adopting the CSTP color scheme of green, purple, and green played a pivotal role in the redesign. The challenge stemmed from the previous website’s non-compliant use of white text on a light green background, failing to meet accessibility requirements. In this redesign, the focus was on leveraging these vibrant colors to enhance aesthetics while ensuring accessibility. By incorporating these fun colors thoughtfully, we aimed to strike a balance, elevating the visual appeal without compromising on accessibility standards. The result is a website that not only looks engaging but also adheres to inclusive design principles.

#981e32

Madder

#3b4042

Onyx

#564c20

Field Drab

Final Designs

The culmination of the design process for the Virtual Ecology project is presented in the final product—a visually engaging and user-friendly website. Below are screen captures offering a glimpse into the various features of the platform. These images showcase the seamless integration of virtual field trips, user instructions, and additional resources, providing students with an immersive and educational experience despite the challenges posed by Covid-19. The final design stands as a testament to the collaborative efforts that brought the vision of Virtual Ecology to life.

Project Development Photos

Explore the collaborative journey of the Virtual Ecology project through a collection of development photos. These snapshots capture the dedicated work of professors, undergraduate, and graduate students as they bring the virtual exploration of Kamiak Butte to life. From brainstorming VR experiences to curating digital content, these images provide a visual story of the teamwork and dedication that shaped this immersive educational resource.

Add Your Heading Text Here

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Kamiak Butte VR

App to Support Virtual Placed-Based Learning of a rural area County park in Eastern Washington. 

Overview

I started the Kamiak Butte VR project in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the shift to distance learning for an undergraduate Ecology course at Washington State University.
 
Using virtual reality, computers, and mobile devices this project enables students to engage in a 360° virtual exploration and learning experience of Kamiak Butte County Park. The project was used to replace the physical field trip and is now used as supplemental support for the course. 

Timeline

August 2020 – Spring 2023 

Deliverables

VR Application, WebGL App

Contributions

Product Designer, Researcher, 360 Photogragher 

VR User Interface Design to Promote Field Studies

My master’s thesis focused on the use of the Kamiak Butte VR alongside the physical field trip in the Natural Resource Ecology course.

Design Process Grounded in User Research & Learning Theories

The design process began with extensive user research, encompassing surveys, interviews, and usability testing. This approach allowed me to gain deep insights into the needs, preferences, and behaviors of the target audience. By understanding the expectations and pain points of users, I could tailor the virtual exploration of Kamiak Butte County Park to meet their specific requirements.

Prototypes & Iterative Design

Over a span of four years, I implemented several iterative designs for students in the Natural Resource Ecology course. The images below visually depict the evolution of my design iterations for this project. These pictures truly illustrate my growth as an interaction designer over the years.

2020 Design

2021 Design

2022 Design

2023 Design

User Feedback Designs

I collected feedback from over 150+ students through surveys and interviews. This information was employed iteratively in the design process of the project.

Information Architecture & Level Design

Originally, I implemented a user interface with six buttons, each starting a different tour. However, user feedback revealed navigation challenges, particularly difficulty in finding scenes within a tour. To address this, I redesigned the UI, incorporating multiple tabs to simplify scene selection within each tour.

  • “My biggest problem was trying to find a section of one scene across the entire site”

Label Improvments

Maybe students expressed that better labels on the real world UI componets would improve their  navigation in the experience in the tour, therefore I added labels under hotspot icons to improve the users experience.  

  • “Everything is amazing, only thing I would add it video/picture titles before you click on the video.”

3D Map Interactions

Initially, the 3D visitor center featured a non-interactive topographic map for aesthetics. Responding to student feedback, I added interactive features to the 3D map, allowing users to explore data overlays and location markers.

  • “I think a way to improve the hybrid field trip experience is the lobby that you first access. It would be cool if you could move and see the topography of Kamiak Butte from that little display up close.”

Seasonal Change

The Seasonal Change componet of the project was orgnially my idea and alot of students expressed their apperication for this aspect of the tour. Therefore, I worked to create improve the UI to change seasons. 

  • “The favorite part of the virtual field trip was being able to see seasonal changes without having to wait for it to happen in real life.”

A New way to Discorver & Learn about the Natural World

Kamiak Butte VR is a one of a kind project which promotes place-based learning in a rural area in Washington State.

Collaberation & Technology

I’m grateful for 50+ Washington State University students and faculty who volunteered to work on the Kamiak Butte VR project. We secured two grants totaling $45,000 to support the development of the project.

Results

Kamiak Butte VR has been successfully integrated into the curriculum of the Natural Resource Ecology course for six consecutive semesters spanning a three-year period. With over 500 students actively engaging with the software as a vital component of their classroom activities, it remains an integral part of the course, complementing the traditional physical field trip to Kamiak Butte.

  • This hybrid combination completely blew my mind! During the break I spent hours showing my family this virtual site. Everyone was excited to see the animals, the snow on the months with the panoramic views.
  • The effort and time put into this website are astonishing, it is extremely organized and aesthetically pleasing to the eye. 

Seattle Pops

Web Design

Overview

Seattle Pops, a beloved popsicle store located in Seattle, Washington, played a significant role in my undergraduate journey. Taking on the roles of WordPress Developer, UI/UX Designer, and Information Architect, I spearheaded a transformative redesign of their website during the Fall of 2019 as part of the Multimedia Authoring course at Washington State University.

Timeline

September 2019 – December 2019

Deliverables

Website UI, Online Store, New Menu, 

Contributions

Website Design, Protyopes

Screenshots

The project’s foundation lay in the creation of detailed prototypes and wireframes. 

Style Sheet

Seattle Pops logo colors contain fun bright colors. It was really cool to integrate thier colors throughout the website to make elements pop!  Careful consideration was given to typography, color schemes, and imagery to evoke a sense of the Seattle Pops experience. The result was a visually captivating platform that resonated with the brand’s identity and captivated users.

Typograghy

ABC Diatype

Mint

Mint

Mint

Protoypes

The project’s foundation lay in the creation of detailed prototypes and wireframes. These served as the blueprint for the website’s structure and functionality.

Information Architecture

Restructing the information on the seattle pops website was critical in 

A pivotal aspect of the redesign was the strategic restructuring of the website’s information architecture. This involved reimagining the menu structure, streamlining content categorization, and optimizing the flow of information. The goal was to create an intuitive and seamless browsing experience for visitors.

Old

Flavors

Locations

Catering

Our Story

Contact Us

Online Shop

New

Home 

Menu 

Locations 

Order Online 

Catering

Giving Back 

 

Old with the New

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Old Website

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

New Website

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Development Pictures

Throughout the project, collaboration was at the forefront of our approach. Engaging with the Seattle Pops team, we captured moments that exemplified the synergy and dedication poured into the redesign. These candid snapshots serve as a testament to the collaborative spirit that fueled the project’s success.

Results & Reflection

The culmination of our efforts was met with resounding approval from the owner of Seattle Pops, who seamlessly integrated the redesigned website into their hosting service. This not only elevated the online presence of Seattle Pops but also garnered recognition from the Digital Technology and Culture program at WSU.

“which recognizes students who explores the principles of web design, coding, information architecture, and usability in a global cultural context”

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.