Water Quality Team


Conducted research on the Water Quality Team at Port Moody Ecological Society.


I was heavily involved in all the different research methods, becoming a full-fledged member of the Water Quality Team as I participated in collecting and analyzing water samples on a weekly basis. This firsthand insight provided us the direction we needed to design a solution for the Water Quality Team.


  • Ethnography
  • Interviewing
  • User Persona
  • Storyboard


  • Illustrator
  • After Effects


  • Clarissa Ishak
  • Tina Lin


The goal of the Water Quality team is to maintain the water quality of the creeks in Burrard Inlet. Their tasks can be categorized into two components – fieldwork and laboratory work. Working alongside with the members, we realized that there are safety concerns in the field when we had to climb down steep and muddy slopes to access creeks. In the lab, we saw how we could easily forget which analysis we are conducting, as the tasks are repetitive and we are engaged in conversation with the members.



Another research method we used was creating cultural probes – artifacts that would allow the participants to express their emotions, thoughts, behaviours, values, etc., in a fun, and engaging manner. The artifacts in our kit include:

  • A map of the creeks
  • DIY pop can
  • A newspaper article
  • Game cards
  • A box of self-expression
  • Eggs with messages inside

From these objects, we learned that all members were firm believers in protecting the environment, that they disliked cleaning and organizing the lab, and that they really wanted the analyses to go faster – members would have to wait as long as five minutes for a machine to finish analyzing a water sample.


After working with the Water Quality Team for over a month, we had more than enough information to develop personas. Our primary persona was Sarah Morrison, who represented the working, middle-aged woman who had a family but still had time to volunteer with the Water Quality Team. The other two secondary personas, Grace Lai and Dan Jensen, cover the other members of the team. Developing these personas allowed us to clearly understand the Water Quality Team and continue with our design focus on efficiency in their workflow.



Our last research method was conducting a participatory workshop for the members of the Water Quality Team. Similar to the cultural probes, the activities of the workshop were designed to draw deeper needs and desires in a fun and interactive way. Our activities included:

  • A mad lib
  • Cognitive map
  • Building a laboratory
  • Designing a tool

From the workshop, we realized that we would not be able to design better and faster tools to speed up the analysis process, but we could maximize their workflow in the lab through other means.



Our design solution for the Water Quality Team was designing a new laboratory that would speed up their workflow. We created a storyboard and journey framework to describe the members’ new experience in our new laboratory.



Our newly designed laboratory, the Mad Lab, focuses on the placement of the equipment and having tools that would aid in efficiency. To demonstrate the new workflow, we created a 3D model of our laboratory and compared it with the current process, showing how much time is saved when members work in the Mad Lab.