UX Case Study
January 2024

Project Overview

Waste Buddy is an app designed for social good, helping community members create better habits when it comes to recycling, composting, and discarding waste. Users can find their pickup schedule, find drop off and donation centers, learn what products can be recycled and composted, and explore environmental initiatives happening in their community.

My Role

As the only designer on this project, I was responsible for conducting user research, creating wireframes, low and high fidelity prototypes, conducting usability studies, and iterating on final designs.

UX Design Process


Learn about the user through interviews & research


Specify the user's needs


Come up with creative solutions

Prototype & Test

Simulate user experience & validate with the user

User Research

Since my target audience for this project were members of my own community, I asked my neighbours to participate in my research. I had them fill out a survey asking them more about themselves and their current waste habits. Then, a few members who were interested participated in interviews. Participants covered a wide range of ages and abilities; some participants were born and raised in Canada, and others were new to Canada and learned English as their second language. This created a great opportunity for me to keep accessibility in mind throughout the design process.

Research uncovered four key pain points:

• Users couldn't remember garbage pickup schedule, or wanted a weekly reminder, especially for special pickups ie. batteries or electronics
• Many products are marketed to be recyclable or compostable, but sadly only in specific municipalities (users need to be able to identify what is or is not general waste)
• Users lack the motivation to learn or create better habits to recycle and compost
• Users feel guilty when they have no choice but to throw something in the trash when it could otherwise be donated or repurposed

User Persona

With all the data collected from the surveys and interviews, I created a few personas to represent the goals and characteristics of the end users.

This is Jamal:

Market Research

Along with user research, I conducted a competitive audit on some of my main direct and indirect competitors.

Defining the Problem

At this point knowing who I'm designing for, I asked myself "which of my user's needs or problems are the most important for my design to address?"

To answer this, I came up with problem statements for my personas, and a "How might we?" question to solve those problems.

Problem Statement

Jamal is a full-time dentist and father, who needs a rewarding way to learn about recycling and composting, so that he can better contribute to reducing his community's negative environmental impact.

How might we...

How might we help motivate Jamal to learn more about recycling and composting, and improve his habits?


User Flow

Next I laid out my information architecture for the Waste Buddy app to outline the main pages and features. This structure helped me organize the various functions the app will have, since there is more than one consistent user flow.

Ideation on Paper

I started out with some rapid sketching to get some ideas on paper. Then I refined those sketches with a little more detail, building from my IA above:

• Landing screen where users see the current month pickup schedule
• Map of nearby drop-off depots and donation centres
• Interactive quiz to test and improve the user's knowledge
• Community posts where users can learn about what steps their community is taking to reduce their environmental impact

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Digital Wireframes

Next I transformed my paper wireframes into digital lofi wireframes. At this point, I had spent a little extra time sketching out ideas, so I felt more confident directly copying them without making many changes.

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Low Fidelity Prototype Testing

I tested the lofi prototype by running 6 usability studies with users on the Figma Mirror app. This gave users a more realistic experience on a mobile device, and helped me understand issues that wouldn't have come up using the web browser prototype. With the results of the usability studies, I iterated on the designs:

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High Fidelity Mockups

Finally, I created a simple brand identity and logo before putting together some high fidelity mockups. Check out the final prototype below.
View prototype
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Final Takeaways & Next Steps

With this being my third project part of my Google UX Design Certificate, I really felt everything I've learned come full circle. I felt a lot more confident conducting interviews and usability studies, especially with people I didn't know very well. I focused more on avoiding leading questions and being aware not to limit my subject's answers based on what I was expecting. I also tried not to overstructure the usability studies, and I found that helped bring out more authentic responses.

My next steps with this project would be to focus more on notification settings, and what kind of control users would want over them. I'd also like to do more with the quiz, adding a way to earn points or badges and share achievements with their community members.

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