Ocean Defenders is an app designed as a contest submission on behalf of the Xprize Big Ocean Button challenge. It focuses on the massive garbage problem in the oceans, and “gameifys” collecting and disposing of trash in a meaningful, engaging and educational way for both kids and adults.

Judging and voting commences on September 1st, 2017.

  • Project Duration: February 2017 – December 2017
  • Project Type: Pollution awareness app and game
  • Designed For: Xprize Big Ocean Button Challenge contest
  • My Contributions: UX/UI Design and Project Manager
  • Programs Used: Sketch, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, UX Pin, Balsamiq
  • Website: https://herox.com/bigoceanbutton
  • Nautilus Innovation Behance page: https://www.behance.net/NautilusInnovations


Why It Was Created

Target Audience

Inspirations: Pokemon Go and Habitica

Icon with Text


Collecting trash abundance and current direction data

Here is the TIDES website


Other apps tackling this issue

Current app weaknesses

User Feedback

User research has been conducted on behalf of Inland Ocean Coalition, a nonprofit organization based in Boulder, CO.

We sampled a total of 35 individuals age 5 – 16 in a one on one, in person setting. Questions asked included:

– When you go to the beach, lake or river and you see trash, do you pick it up and throw it away?
– Do you feel more motivated to do good when there is an incentive?
– On a scale of 1 – 5, how much do you care about garbage in the oceans?
– What are some of the things you would like to know about when visiting the beach?
– How can picking up trash be made fun and engaging?
– Are you aware of the types of trash in the oceans and how it affects marine life, as well as how much garbage is currently in the oceans?

I also did a test where I laid out several items; fishing line, a cork, plastic, rubber, cardboard, tin can, etc. I also had cards available, which identify breakdown duration period. Testers were then asked to rank which took the longest, and asked to rank how long it took each material to degrade in the ocean. They were then asked to rank on a scale of 1 – 5 how important it is for them to know about this information.

– Younger individuals required more motivation to pick up trash; older individuals simply picked up trash. Interestingly enough, I found that individuals who were autistic (regardless of age) greatly preferred motivation and gameification factors.

– One other factor I had not considered is that kids want to know what kind of animals are in their local areas, and how trash is affecting them.

– Most were unaware of the immense garbage problem in the ocean, but once they found out, they wanted to know more about what types of animals were affected by what kinds of trash.

– Gameification features such as medals were mentioned (as this relates to Xbox Achievements and other things they are rewarded for in video games).

– Most kids did not correctly guess the degradation times of the garbage presented to them (most adults are unaware of it as well). However, almost all of them rated it a 5, indicating this is information they really need to know about.

Here is the Inland Ocean Coalition website


Customer Journey Map



App features

Rough wireframe pre sketches

IOS Wireframe samples

Android Wireframe samples


Ocean Defenders v 1.0 design samples

Future Iterations

Gameification considerations

Potential sample biases and app shortcomings

– Some smart phones are not water resistant; limits the ability to use if wet.

– The game aspect opens up the possibility of inaccurate trash reports for the sake of leveling up the individual’s avatar. This is a problem Habitica faces as well.

Future Possible Features

– Built in forums

– Additional skins and customizable features

– Sync ability with Meetup.com

– “Trash calculator”, which asks users to track how much garbage they use in one day

What I learned from this project

– How to manage a team, select talent (including myself, two developers, a graphic designer and a data scientist). Hiring and managing team members.

– Further developing my wireframe and UI skills

– Developing a project under pressure.

– How to bring attention to a large ecological problem and make it accessible to the public.