UX Research & Design

Case Study 

What I Did:

  • Led UX research on a newly launched carbon footprint tracker app,
  • Identified critical user engagement gaps,
  • Designed a new onboarding strategy to support Greency’s business goals and user needs.


Green Tech Startup


Hanna Shuvalova
Ilmir Nasretdinov
Pouya Rezazadeh Kalehbasti



My Role

UX Research & Design 

My Methods

Heuristic Analysis
Competitor Analysis
Secondary Research
Data Synthesis
User Screening Survey
User Interviews
Usability Testing
(Remote, Moderated)
User Flows
Visual/UI Design
Interactive Prototyping

Product Goals


With great ambition to embed a carbon emissions metric in the daily life of its users, Greency needed assistance in evaluating the effectiveness of its product in helping its users achieve carbon footprint awareness and carbon output reduction. 

In working with the Greency team and understanding their product vision and business goals, I set out to evaluate how users view and interact with the gamified tree avatar central to Greency and to assess its ability to support behavior change in its users. 

Through user interviews and usability testing, my UX research aimed to assess the overall usability of the app, as well as pinpoint areas for improvement in the way the app supports the user through the gamified tree avatar and data collection and display. 





I embarked on a comprehensive evaluation and research process designed to uncover key insights about the behaviors, needs and requirements of Greency’s users.

Problem Statement

I conducted UX research to assess the user’s relationship with the tree avatar they create in Greency and evaluate the user’s ability to build a relationship and empathize with the tree throughout the Greency experience. Through the learnings, I hoped to find specific and concrete ways to support Greency in building and increasing user engagement and providing the best possible user experience. 


High-Level Research Questions

Evaluate User Response to Carbon Footprint Tracking


  • How do the users respond to their carbon output data?
  • How effective is the mechanism of tracking and data display?
  • What is the role of the tree for the user?

Test Responses to Gamified Tree Avatar


  • What kind of relationship do users develop with the Greency tree? 
  • How do users respond to the health decline of the tree?
  • How well does the app foster awareness of the user’s own carbon output behavior?

Who Are The Users?

Through market research, Greency defined their user group as:

  • Middle-to-high income men and women, ages 20-38.
  • Educated & environmentally conscious.
  • Already use automatic tracking devices/apps (fitbit, etc.)
  • Have already modified their behavior in other ways to reduce environmental impact; for instance, by recycling or refusing single-use plastics. 

UX Research Recruitment

Participants were qualified based on a screener survey designed to reveal their concern for climate change and environmental impact on both societal and personal levels. Qualified participants also commute regularly, currently use or have used apps that require geo-location services, and must use iOS and have a Facebook account, which are necessary prerequisites for using Greency at this point in time. 

Research with Greency’s existing and potential users was conducted in 30-minute remotely moderated sessions. Participants included 2 of Greency’s existing users and 5 qualified target users new to Greency.

Survey Respondents

Research Volunteers

Qualifying New Users

New Users Interviewed

Existing Users Interviewed

In the first session, qualified individuals were interviewed about their lifestyle habits, commute behavior and the various ways in which they currently reduce their environmental impact. Afterwards, the individuals were introduced to the Greency app. Users were instructed to try out the app and interact with the tree they created. These users agreed to test out Greency for about a week to interact with the tree, test the carbon footprint tracking capability and share their overall experience in a second follow-up session.

First Session User Feedback

“You name your tree, you see a number, you see a date… For instance when you download a music app, you know the capabilities; you see the lyrics of the song.. To me, it’s not clear how it’s going to work.. what are the buttons?”

- Research Participant D

‘Is it supposed to show bars for everyday?’ ‘If someone was using it for more than a month.. Will someone see the usage for the week, the month?’


- Research Participant A

‘“I actually didn’t know that the graphic was going to change. I thought it would just be the number.”

“What does the app do exactly?”

- Research Participant C

Critical INsights

Core App Goals & Functions

The majority of users expressed difficulty in knowing how the app functions and the overall goal of the app.

Invisibility of Carbon Tracking

For the user, there is no clear association between the user’s commute behavior and the carbon output measurement in kilograms of CO2. Many users had questions about how exactly Greency tracks data and calculates the output.

Establishing Relationship with Tree

There is no way for the user to know upon signup and login that the tree’s health will react to the user’s carbon output, or that they can check-in with their tree to see how it is feeling throughout the day.

Output Data Dashboard

Users express difficulty in being able to view and analyze their carbon output data from the linear timeline given. They are especially confused by the incremental changing of the output number as the line slides across the days.

Addressing the Critical Issues 

Without users understanding the core app goals and functions, they are largely unable to develop a good relationship with their tree, and ultimately unlikely to be engaged with the overall purpose of the app: greater awareness of their own environmental impact and the changing of lifestyle habits.

Existing Onboarding Sequence


In the existing new user onboarding sequence, there is no indication that the tree is meant to be a dialogue partner for the user on their carbon output or the behavior contributing to such. Also, the user is unaware that the tree’s health directly responds to the level of carbon output that the user is producing; so this gamification component core to the overall Greency concept and approach is lost entirely. A solid relationship between the user and the tree is vitally necessary for the tree to function as a extension of the conscience of the user. This onboarding sequence does not support the proper development of this relationship, nor set expectations for the user and his or her experience of the app.



Tree Selection



New User Onboarding: A Conversational Approach


A user onboarding sequence with a clear narrative about how Greency tracks the user’s carbon output, and how the user will interact and relate to the tree throughout their experience properly sets expectations and provides a foundation upon which the user can establish a relationship with their tree.  Not only introducing the core concepts to the user, but also exploring the overall purpose of Greency in the context of a conversation with the user-created tree additionally supports the establishment of relationship with the tree.  The tree then becomes a living entity that communicates actively and regularly with the user. 


  • Arthur the apple tree introduces himself to the user and shares data on his carbon sequestration ability. (iTreeTools)
  • Primes the user to invest in the life of the tree and its environment.


  • Arthur shares how Greency works to track the user’s carbon output.
  • Location services track commute behaviors and the method of transport.


  • Arthur explains the threat of excess CO2; asks user for help.
  • Links user’s carbon output with tree’s ongoing health.

Conceptual Result

  • Arthur invites the user into a partnership to keep the tree and its environment healthy.
  • Results in app mirrors real world impact.

Real World Result

  • User is rewarded in-app when Authur and his ecosystem thrive.
  • Digital representation of real-word reduction of atmospheric CO2.

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