An 80% reduction in support cost and the world’s first cloud-based species tracking application for desktop and mobile.

  • Ebird cloud-based species tracking app.
  • Ebird simple three step process.

About Cornell University Lab of Ornithology

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a world leader in the study, appreciation, and conservation of birds. Our hallmarks are scientific excellence and technological innovation to advance the understanding of nature and to engage people of all ages in learning about birds and protecting the planet.


Design the industry’s first always-on species tracking application. Design an easy-to-use interface for observation input, management, and analysis, which can be used by novice, intermediate, and advanced users. Ensure data integrity. Integrate with multiple legacy systems. Manage large amounts of data (15 million records or more). Migrate off-line behaviors on-line.


Since this would be an industry first, we chose a mix of research methods to better understand audience behaviors and measure viability. Ethnography, journaling, and contextual interviews were used to understand behaviors, goals, wants, needs, and pain points. Focus groups were used to gauge interest in features and free versus fee-based services.

Personas were developed based on the different behavior profiles revealed during the research phase. Personas were also used to drive design decisions and recruit participants for usability testing.

Working with Cornell’s engineers, we built a series of HTML prototype to test our design. Findings from the prototype testing were used to improve the design prior to launch.


A user experience that exceeded the goals and expectations of both stake-holders and customers. This application is considered the most successful project to come out of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

A simple three step process enables birding enthusiasts of all levels to quickly and easily input records. They can also view and explore historical records for all public projects, all their projects, or a selection of their projects.

Administrators can manage records and user accounts through an equally simple, yet powerful interface.

The application launched with 24 million records and an 80% reduction in support costs than previous projects. Additionally, the modular design enabled Cornell to launch co-branded versions in under two (2) weeks.

Services Utilized

  • Ethnographic research
  • Persona development
  • Usability testing
  • Product strategy
  • Interaction design
  • Visual design
  • Prototyping
  • Mobile design
  • HTML/CSS development