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Desert Tortoise Adoption Program

A class project at the University of Arizona to redesign a responsive web design (RWD) website for a cause (local or global). Our team chose to redesign the Desert Tortoise Adoption Program offered by the Arizona Department of Game & Fish (AZGFD)

My Role

UX Researcher & Designer

Tools Used

Figma, Miro, VS Studio Code, Bootstrap, Webflow


The Problem

Desert tortoise adopters feel intimidated about the adoption process, they want to quickly gain useful insight to enhance their confidence in end-to-end desert tortoise care and shelter building as part of the overall adoption process.

The Solution

Redesign and create new pages for the Arizona Department of Game & Fish (AZGFD) tortoise adoption program to enhance education and allow potential adopters to feel confident on how to adopt and care for desert tortoises.

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Ethnographic Research

The ethnographic research we conducted was critical to the design thinking process. We needed to understand the user’s experience and expectations about the tortoise adoption process. By interviewing desert tortoise adopters, conducting a survey, and performing in-person interviews, the data collected provided us the information we needed to redesign the site.

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Interviewing the Adopters

Adopters were interviewed to understand their motivations for adopting desert tortoises. The goal was to understand problems encountered throughout the process that could be alleviated in a redesign of the site.  The adopters expressed some concerns...

Need serious adopters only 

Building a shelter is intimidating

Straight-forward information

Proper care?

Process is cumbersome
More visuals please

Didn't expect to spend so much $$$

More info on shelters

The Survey

A survey was conducted with random participants to gather qualitative and quantitative data about tortoise adoption.

75% had previously adopted a pet

65% knew very little to nothing about tortoises

70% unsure of how to adopt a tortoise

85% hesitant due to questions about habitat, time commitment, and health

60% felt adopting a tortoise would be unique or difficult

In-Person Interviews

In-person interviews were conducted to collect feedback on The Arizona Department of Game and Fish. Our interview session included asking questions and watching participants maneuver through the site. 

Do people have reservations about adopting a tortoise versus a cat or dog? If so, what are they?
What do people expect to see on a tortoise adoption site?
How did users navigate the site? Were some pages/areas easier to navigate than others?
Did the site provide the information users were expecting to see?
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Research Revealed...

 The validity and reliability of the data was checked carefully to identify consistent themes in the research we collected. Our confidence in the data allowed our team to reach relevant conclusions about redesigning the site. 

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Project Sketches and Wireframes

Each member of our three person team created sketches of what we thought represented the user's needs based on the research. These sketches led to mid and hi-fi designs.

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Design Evolution & A/B Testing

We conducted A/B testing to help us understand what users wanted to see. We tested color schemes, button placement, text and font sizes, bordering and shadowing. While the A/B testing provided great feedback, there was just one problem... users reported the site looked dated.


We went back to the drawing board to create a more modern look and conducted further A/B testing with the updated site.

Style Guide

We created the style guide to maintain uniformity throughout the site. Color and theme elements were inspired by the beautiful Sonoran desert, the habitat of the desert tortoise. The research gave us the feedback we needed to provide a more modern and inviting look and feel.

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Desktop & Mobile Designs

Check out my demo on the newly designed site using Figma!  

Directions & Ideas for Future Development

1. Add more video elements for frequently asked questions. 

2. Video tutorials on shelter building and tortoise care.


   3. Create calendar of events for fundraisers, workshops, etc. to facilitate desert tortoise education amongst the local community.

       4. The adoption process to exist over multiple pages to include an interactive experience. For example, incorporate a progress bar indicated what step you're at in the adoption process. 


5. When first starting the adoption process display an animated tortoise who says “wait a minute, have you created my habitat yet?” A response to this question is presented with a menu selection for "yes" or "no" leading the user through a more informative step-by-step path on creating an appropriate habitat.

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