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Houston Zoo

Enterprise | Xamarin | AR concept

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Houston Zoo

Consumer | ios Native | iot | AR Concept | conversational ui CONCEPT | Wearable tech

The Houston Zoo approached my team to gather research data on their visitors and redesign their current app based on the findings.

We found that visitors wanted a quicker way to purchase tickets, be able to scan their membership card upon arrival, help navigating through the zoo, and more educational information about the animals.



Client Collecting Funds

Lead Ui/Ux Designer

Secondary ui/ux Designer, lead researcher, Primary researcher, secondary researcher


Key Design Challenges

  • Provide more intuitive wayfinding for zoo visitors

  • Parents need a more hands free experience while juggling kids

  • Increase visitor engagement both inside and outside the zoo

  • Reduce ticket/membership frustrations and zoo printing costs

  • Reduce the impact of weather conditions on attendance

Key Responsibilities & contributions

  • Spent 8 hours on-site interviewing visitors; team spent a total of 87 hours on-site

  • Lead the strategy and design direction of the mobile app

  • Proposed a smart watch companion for a hands-free experience

  • Utilized iOT technology to enhance the user’s engagement with the zoo



Interaction Models, Personas & Survey Data

Experience Map



Solution Scenarios

The above scenarios were drawn by Kimberly Chang


This survey nailed it; get an app out that is in line
with 2018 technology and is scalable for technology
changes at least within the next 5 years.
— Zoo Member

iOT Scenarios

I designed a smart dashboard driven by iOT technology that works both at the zoo and at home. This feature addresses several of the zoo’s business needs around increasing engagement and turn out.

The smart dashboard provides a list of recommendations around upcoming and current activities at the zoo based on things like: weather, activity levels, and user preferences (favorite animals and activities) meant to draw guests to the zoo or help guide them while they are visiting. For example, if it is a hot day, the dashboard can suggest indoor or hot weather activities for guests to enjoy.


Conversational UI

I incorporated a “Siri” or “Ok Google” type of digital assistant into the app to provide visitors with a way of finding information quickly. This would allow them to stay engaged with the physical zoo experience as much as possible.

Visitors could ask a variety of questions around topics such as navigation, animal info, and event times.

During our observations we found that people need help locating things like the closest restroom or a certain event they are interested in seeing. With this design, visitors can simply ask for directions and the app will navigate them to the correct location.


Smart Watch Component

I designed a Smart Watch component to provide a hands-free, integrated experience for zoo visitors. It included the following supporting features:

  • Notifications

  • Navigation directions

  • Scannable membership card and/or ticket(s)

It would be nice to add a login to the app that
kept our annual pass on file so we wouldn’t
have to carry one around since we already have
our phone. An interactive map on the app would
be nice as well.
— Zoo Member

Interactive Map & Navigation with AR Component

I provided the client with two different options for handling the interactive map portion of the app. The first option was to go with a Mapbox-powered satellite map, the second option was to go with a custom illustrated map based off the zoo’s current paper map.

Visitors can navigate using a Google Maps inspired navigator or by using AR. The AR component overlays navigation directly on the screen for better context.


Satellite Map: Zooming in/out, and viewing animal info

Illustrated Map: Zooming in/out, switching between pin types, and viewing animal info

Navigating to a location and using the AR navigation option


Digital Tickets & Membership Card

This was one of the highest rated features by visitors in the survey and came up as a need often during the contextual inquiry.

The app will use Geofence technology to know when the visitor is at the gate and will automatically pull up the ticket or membership card screen for quick scanning.