Hennepin County Green Disposal Guide

Hennepin County hired Azul Seven to lead a human-centered redesign of its recycling website to improve the user experience and encourage more people to drop off household items ranging from batteries and appliances, to carpets and yard waste.

Hennepin County has two recycling drop-off facilities in metro Minneapolis. They also had a website that archived comprehensive recycling and disposal information on hundreds of different household items—from batteries and appliances, to carpets and yard waste. However, the information on the site wasn’t well organized, making it extremely difficult for residents and call-center staff to use.

Hennepin County hired Azul Seven to redesign the site to improve the user experience and get more people to recycle. After auditing the existing content to understand what information was available, we set out to gain understanding of user needs. “Gaining empathy” is typically the first step in the human-centered, design-thinking process. To do this, we lead a formal interview session with staff and leadership to identify and clarify goals for communication in general, and the website specifically. Next we visited the recycling facilities to observe call-center staff providing information to residents over the phone, as well as residents bringing materials (and questions) into the facility.

After learning what information was in greatest demand, we outlined user flows for typical site-visitor personas to determine which navigation and function elements to prioritize in the wireframes and end design. Then we prototyped and tested a content strategy that provided consistent formatting, icons and other visual cues to make it easier for readers to scan the available information. In addition, we improved search and browsing options to allow facility staff and resident users to locate information in the manner that’s most intuitive to them.

The final deliverable included a complete redesign and front-end development of the site that prioritized the improved search function and provided shortcuts to browsing options, seasonal disposal items, and information on commonly recycled materials and drop-off facilities. In May 2016, roughly one year after completion of the redesign, the Green Disposal Guide became one of Hennepin County’s top 10 most-visited websites.

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