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Rainforest Connection

Reimagining complex data sets into interactive data visualization to Increase engagement and understanding.

The Problem

How might we simplify bioacoustic data in a way that increases usability and engagement amongst both scientific and non scientific audiences?

The Solution

An interactive map that consolidates multiple datasets, enabling users to visually explore and consume project data, without prior project knowledge.


Rainforest Connection


4 months



My contributions

User Research, Affinity Mapping, Ideating, Prototyping

Team Members

Andy Pham, Ava Xu, Ivy Zhang, Miko Wu


I spent 8 months working at CIBC as a product designer on the delivery team. I spent the majority of my co-op on a digital card management project.

Project Type



8 Months


Native app, Web (static + responsive)

Get an overview of species richness at a glance, and explore the biodiversity in a region of interest

Dig deeper to discover the species detected in the area

Spotlight on any species, listen to its call and view its detection rates

The Context

Who is Rainforest Connection (RFCx)?

Rainforest Connection (RFCx) A non-for-profit that uses machine learning & sound technology to help protect biodiversity and rainforest worldwide. Their main product, Arbimon is an acoustic analysis software tool used by biodiversity scientists.

What does Rainforest Connection do?


Audio recorders are deployed in rainforests around the world


Recording is analyzed on Arbimon to identify species call patterns and other sounds


The analyzed data is automatically visualized, and presented on Arbimon’s
project insight pages

The Project Focus

Through the data analysis conducted on the the Arbimon platform, Insights pages are automatically generated and aim to present large amounts of biodiversity data visually.

These pages include:

dashboard, richness, activity and spotlight.

The current experience

RFCx approached us with a high level goal:

How can we improve the insight pages so they are serving the needs of our users?

Since the insight pages were a relatively new Arbimon product, there was little direct insight into the needs and use cases of external Arbimon users.

Research: Understanding a very unfamiliar territory...

As UX designers and researchers, we had no knowledge of biodiversity research, terminology, tasks or needs of our users. We new that developing a thorough understanding of this domain was imperative to designing an impactful solution.

User Groups


Both those internal to Rainforest Connection and also independent wildlife scientists.

Project developers

Project developers that work on conservation initiatives are the second user group.

Climate Advocates

Climate advocates or educators who care about biodiversity conservation.

Primary Research

13 representative participants

Sei-structured Interviews

Usability tests of current state

Research Analysis

Participant insights were grouped into clusters to spot major themes

Research Findings

1. Lack of search functionality

Inability to search for specific information across Arbimon projects. Identifying which species, habitats, or regions each project monitors requires either prior knowledge or individual project exploration.

2. Limited Project Context

Project pages are missing key information. The lack of context makes it difficult for those who are not involved in a research project to understand its goals and impact.

3. Scientific data and terminology is not accessible to all audiences

The scientific nature of data presentation creates a significant challenge for non-scientific users to comprehend and utilize the information effectively.

4. Usability Difficulties

Website labels, information architecture, and interaction issues make it difficult for users to complete tasks on the website.

Through the insights uncovered we were able to define a How Might We statement...

How might we simplify bioacoustic data in a way that is relevant and accessible for scientific and non scientific audiences?

Defining requirements and deliverables

While this project consisted of a a redesign of several pages, I will be focusing on the interactive map which I was responsible for.


Scientific and non scientific audience can visualize, understand and compare project data


Consolidated Interactive map, visualizing biodiversity data and allowing the comparison of multiple datasets


The team ideated on ways to solve the identified problems. We then voted on the impact and feasibility of each idea in order to reach decisions about how to proceed.

Capturing the current app experience


The Challenge

It required a lot of deep thought, concentration, and sketches to wrap my head around these complicated data sets and how they interact together.

To ensure I had a thorough understanding of the scientific concepts, I had to break down the information before being able to ideate on design solutions.

Initial Sketches

I began with quick sketches trying to figure out how to consolidate several maps, spread our across different pages of the site, as well as provide a comparison tool that would be easily understood by non-experienced as well as pro users.

Mid Fidelity Flow

Capturing the current app experience

Usability Testing

What we did

We conducted moderated usability tests with 5 participants to gather qualitative feedback on the designs.

Capturing feedback effectively

As usability test notes poured in, I knew it was important to capture the nuances of the feedback in a contextual and visual way. As the interactive map designer, I created a system for the team to follow to efficiently capture feedback, making it easy to spot commonalities and understand comments in context with features.

A system was established for capturing in-context usability insights for every step of the journey

Iconography instantly symbolized whether an insight was positive or negative

Insights from each stage of the journey were summarized


Design Iteration

I continued iterating on the design based on the feedback we gathered in the first round of usability testing.

Additional Testing

It was important for the team to run an additional round of testing to validate our decisions and gather insight for additional improvements.

High fidelity wireframes showcasing the user journey for testing