Citizen Science

Attracting, & nurturing, new citizen scientists

UX lead for discovery, definition & build of two citizen science web apps.

Research, & journey mapping, led to insights which informed gamification, social media & comms strategies designed to engage enthuse, & educate, new contributors.

Challenge

Most contributors are from older demographics. Nearly all senior experts and moderators are retired. Barriers to participation included: time required, knowledge level, length of time to see impact of contribution.

How might a younger demographic be engaged, encouraged, and rewarded for, contributing?

Approach

Research identified barriers to participating and progressing:

  1. Fear of making an incorrect recording
  2. Lack way to ask, and learn from others
  3. Inability to share, & socialise, participation
  4. Big steps up between levels of contribution

Mapping the end-to-end experience identified those points, and started to suggest ways to navigate them.

Strategies included:

  • Smaller, less risky way to start contributing
  • Ways to ‘learn on the job’, so knowledge gain is a painless consequence of participation
  • Rewards and reminders in the short term, to nudge users to carry on contributing

Impact

Although many of the proposals became for the longer term, in modified form, the principles fed into the project build.

  • Step-by-step guided recording replaced filling out long forms
  • The public facing record sets got a ‘public centred’ redesign
  • Filling in gaps in existing data became easier for anyone to do, so encouraging up keep of records