eOceans Mobile App Design: UX/UI Case Study

Client: eOceans
Role: UI/UX Designer


UI/UX design for a mobile application helping users for real-time activity tracking, observation logging, and analytics for collaborative science.



  • eOceans is a mobile app and digital platform for at-sea, real-time data collection with automated data processing for individuals and teams studying the oceans. For success, eOceans depends on ongoing participation by individuals. 

  • Gamification has been successfully used in a wide range of mobile apps for this purpose. eOceans will launch its mobile app for data collection in January and the purpose of this project is to research, design, test, and prototype a gamification solution that can be implemented to stimulate growth. It will also be the primary marketing tool.

  • eOceans motto: Speeding up ocean science. For the oceans. For us.



Who uses eOceans?

  • Anyone that goes to sea with a smartphone — marine scientists, citizen scientists, ocean explorers, tourists, etc.

  • If you’re a scientist that only wants standardized data, then that’s all you collect.

  • If you’re an opportunistic citizen scientist, or a scientist collecting data on your way out to perform standardized data collection, then your data may be less standardized. It varies. 

  • eOceans is a platform for you and your team to collect and digitize your data, and to share with anyone that wants it.



Personas and Use Cases:

Based on the data I collected from my research I was able to define three clear user types, around which I developed the following personas:


Lauren: Lauren has a marine biology degree and now runs a not-for-profit that engages dive tourists from around the world to collect data to document local shark, ray, turtles, Mola, and garbage conditions.

This app helps Lauren get data and spreads education and awareness, and she delivers annual reports to all participants about the results. 

Brian: Brian is a marine scientist, PhD, that is a hired consultant by coastal communities/municipalities to study the impact of pollution in their coastal ecosystems – he can only study 2 areas part time at a time, but 100’s need him to sample all the time.

He needs a platform to crowdsource data and to communicate findings with the crowd. 

Mike: Mike is a dive instructor and operator, who logs his dives and is in the business of drawing people to his country to dive and records his dives in log books and shares his observations to researchers around the world – 10 places for sharks, 5 places for whales, 3 for turtles, 1 for seahorses, and 6 for garbage.

The problem is that he’s busy and every researcher wants the same information in a different format – so he has to spend a long time after each diving reporting all this information in order to get the data into scientists hands to help protect the oceans and species he loves and his business depends on. He would love one app for all that streamed to all the relevant researchers at the time. 




User Study:

Background Questionnaire Result:
  • Number of participants: 5  
  • Gender: Male: 2 / Female: 3
  • What brand/operating system of smartphone do you use? iPhone: 3 / Android: 2


Product Opportunity Questions:
  1. How do you currently log your data? 
  2. What do you think of this product? (initial reaction)
  3. Does this remind of you any other apps?


Product Reaction Questions:
  1. What’s most appealing about this app? 
  2. What’s the hardest part about using this app? 
  3. Was there anything surprising or unexpected about this app? 
  4. What could be done to improve this app? 
  5. Was there anything missing from this app that you expected? 
  6. Would you keep using this app after what you saw today? 
  7. Do you have any suggestions to help make this app more useful?



Key Insights:

  • Currently users use pen and paper or spreadsheet application to record data.
  • All users found high contrast mode is very helpful.
  • Users use an application for weather forecast and tide times which could be an opportunity for add-on features.
  • Splash screen 2 and 3 reminded users as a vacation/travel related app.
  • Logging observation will need to have a number picker with plus/minus icons on the items field increase it by 1 in order to save time for users.
  • Using collapsible to hide and show multiple activities on the same day on the feed page.
  • Clicking on the Taxon ID to show common name or scientific name.
  • Being able to switch between card view/thumbnail view/list view on the feed page.
  • Adding a sort button on the feed in order to sort recorded observations by date ASC/DESC.
  • Adding an advanced search to find specific records on the feed.
  • Clicking on the time on the transect page to show current GPS location.
  • Showing transect duration on the transect record card on the feed.
  • Adding a blurb on the team tabs for more clarification.
  • Being able to upload record manually (Should be able on web).
  • Changing Items term to Counts.
  • Being able to see a map of my records, if users access to internet.
  • The user rating (expert/beginner) needs to be clarified for users.
  • Changing a high contrast icon to a sun related icon for visibility.
  • Being able to draft a quick observation with a simple note only.
  • Adjusting the observation stepper to be clickable on the review page so users can easily edit and update their logs before saving.
  • Adding a red mood.


Design Requirements:

The primary purpose of this project was to define a gamification methodology that could be integrated into eOceans’ mobile application to maximize user engagement. Accessibility was also key, as the user group is incredibly diverse. One of the project’s main goals was to ensure accessibility and usability of all app content/design for all users. Here are some important considerations:

  • Accessibility design
  • Share with friends / comment / ask questions
  • Recognition / social sharing
  • Community
  • Levels, user ratings, or statuses
  • Levels / progression



Design Solutions:

Taking into account the needs of eOceans and the diverse needs of the app’s anticipated users, and keeping in mind accessibility standards, I created a user-friendly app with clean, well-organized navigational strategies. A few important points I implemented in the design: 

  • Check-ins (technically stationary point counts)
  • Auto-tracking sampling techniques (technically belt transects, distance sampling, or roving)
  • Photos of the item being logged
  • Time recording period
  • Real time logging (Digitizing data from past experience is not acceptable.)
  • Activity types
  • Unknown observation record and add comment option
  • Species ID
  • Team



The app branding when done right results in a strong relationship between the brand and the customers. The app created with the user-centric design approach, because it is them finally who would be using it, sharing their views about it, recommending it, and paying for it.


Prototyping & Usability Testing:

From my research I had discovered what factors were most important to our users when tracking/logging observation. Through testing of the prototypes with multiple users I discovered emerging pain points early that required re-evaluation. I iterated on these and continued testing with prototypes. This process was repeated a number of times to ensure any issues that arose were addressed and iterated on the prototype.