information design

Team Effort, but Unique Individual Value

Midterm week has come and passed, and and there are only a few remaining weeks until graduation! Research focuses need to transform into impactful outcomes, so it's go time.

My research for this app/network includes both secondary and primary research. My secondary research consists of publication research, case studies, and expert interviews with digital marketing strategists, sustainability teachers, and nonprofit leaders. Because of the short time frame of the project, I have utilized some existing contextual research from Lextant and Universum about Millennials to support my own primary observations and survey results. 

I took the weekend to synthesize all of the data I have gathered over the last few weeks, and came back with five focuses to move forward with. 


One of the main takeaways from my research is the first focus: 'uniquely valuable content.' One of my survey questions I asked in order to gain insight for how to spark involvement with my app, was "what cause are you passionate about?"

The results were astounding. 44 different causes were represented, and that point alone helped me to realize that passion comes from all kinds of sources. From nutrition, to equal marriage rights, to programs for current and former military, to pediatric cancer research, the drive to make a difference came in all shapes and sizes. So, I began thinking about how I can spark that spirit with each individual, and make content uniquely valuable for each of them. The framework I'm designing for the app is meant to foster collaboration, creativity, passion, and excitement, based off of the idea that the goals and challenges presented need to be narrow enough to have direction, and wide enough to ignite that passion for the different reasons people and organizations have it.

If the app information isn't relevant, personal, and valuable to various players, it won't achieve my goal. The goal is to inspire individuals, businesses, and organizations to participate in their own way, 'at home,' to help achieve a larger positive change. By rotating the content/challenges in the app, hopefully I will hit triggers for initial participation for a variety of people. I believe interdisciplinary participation is one of the major keys to advances in sustainability efforts. A team of unique individuals, with unique expertise, each contributing and extracting unique value within the scenario.

Individual commitment to a group effort—that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.
— Vince Lombardi
Each member of a team comes to practice and play for a different reason.

Each member of a team comes to practice and play for a different reason.

So, moving forward, I will be creating journey maps for my players, a service blueprint to define the app, and move into wireframes and visual design for the project. The number one thing that's missing at the moment: a name. The way this network is presented, and the language it uses, is so influential in its success or failure. I'm excited to brainstorm and tackle that step. Suggestions are welcome :) Until next week, friends!

Mindful Millennials

Week 2 of the quarter is underway. Today, I presented my final scoping and initial research planning for my work in progress, ‘Mindful Millennials.’ 


The goals of the project are to diffuse education through the millennial age group about sustainability, create community connection, and encourage lifestyle improvements to live more sustainably. My theory for the project is if you provide meaningful context, and the tools for change, then each individual will apply this information to their lives as they see fit.

The key though, in my eyes, is the meaningful part. 

We are bombarded every day with incredible amounts of information. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, newsletters, emails... it’s constant. So what makes information stick? What do Millennials want to know about sustainability and the world around them? How can we reconnect people to nature, and harness the power of social media and technology to do so? It may seem like an oxymoron, connecting people to nature with technology, but I believe with tailored, specific messages, and tools for local connection, this can be achieved.

With a lot of strategy, and a little luck, I’m hoping an app can serve as three leverage points based on Donella Meadows' Thinking in Systems book. She points out that information flows can wreak havoc on the functionality of a system. Without the right information to the right people, systems will fail. I want to create smooth information flows about sustainability topics that are important to people. Additionally, she says self-organization is a powerful leverage point and tool for change. Social media seems like it could serve as this perfect platform for this kind of leverage. Finally, even though it has less impact than other points, she believes numbers are a place to start when it comes to change. Numbers, meaning every little person doing something good, leads to change over time. Every time someone uses a reusable bag versus a plastic one, that’s a number, and it does have an effect, even if it’s minor. I’m hoping that with context and tools, comes lifestyle changes, even if they’re just little numbers.

Moving forward with this framing, I’m starting to dive into contextual research about content strategy, user experience design, desired sustainable lifestyle changes, and social innovation. I’m excited to move forward, and hopefully come out with worthwhile design to connect millennials to sustainability and their communities. Any feedback or connections to resources would be greatly appreciated. 


We all have impact, negative and positive. How can I use this design to facilitate more of the positive?

Your deepest roots are in nature.  No matter who you are, where you live, or what kind of life you lead, you remain irrevocably linked with the rest of creation. 
— Charles Cook

thumbnail image source: FastCompany