Role in project
Research • User testing • Concepting • User flows • Prototyping •
Test planning • Sprint Planning • Sketching • Content strategy • Interaction design
We designed to improve Chicago’s south-side by increasing community engagement via cryptocurrency and instilling volunteer ownership in community rehabilitation projects
Urban Array is a non-profit organization based in Chicago’s south side that engages the community through projects empowering people to affect change in their communities. As an incentive for volunteering and building their own community, Urban Array rewards volunteers with their own crypto-currency that volunteers can spend with partnering local businesses. They are an affiliate of the movement, Blockchain For Good, and consistently outreach to their community on mobilizing volunteers to take part in community rehabilitation events.
In three weeks, my team and I focused on the initiation and onboarding process, and helped their business model with engaging and attracting more volunteers. We designed an onboarding process and re-designed their homepage, and implemented a landing page to present the values of the organization to reduce volunteer attrition.
Urban Array’s goal is to grow their community, but their process is extremely manual. Marquis, the CEO of Urban Array, approached our team to streamline their process and accelerate growth. Our designs helped them achieve their goals to:
Help Marquis, step out of the onboarding role as Urban Array scales. And to have that process be very thorough in vetting volunteers
Establish data retention
For volunteer information including basic information, skills, and resources as they currently do not have a method to do so
Marquis explained that one of the goals was for Urban Array to be self sufficient from society
Taking a first look at the current Urban Array homepage and platform, I completed a heuristic evaluation to align the team and distinguished current unintuitive usability patterns:
The main issue I found was translating the complex messages of cryptocurrency, impacting the community, and how users could be involved. With this, the team and I dove into learning more about the domain.
Preparing for design, our team proceeded in additional research.
What we learned:
When creating a new currency in an under-served area, social-equity is necessary to it’s success
Set goals to:
As none of my team members were familiar with cryptocurrency
Simplifying complex subjects
Urban Array has a complicated mission, and translating that would be key for future volunteers
Motivate through onboarding
A long, thorough process leads to high attrition rates. My team and I would need to find a way to help Urban Array vet while guiding users through the process
Users are motivated by:
Their interest about the product that brought them there
Whether the problem the product solves fits their need
Whether the product provides them value
The best way to onboard users for this product will be benefit-focused
Engage and retain volunteers
To bring volunteers through the journey of converting them from the landing page all the way to their first volunteer event
Making volunteers feel appreciated by matching them up with opportunities that they enjoy
My team and I continued our research with other organizations that could give us insight with our research goals
My team and I spoke with eight potential volunteers and/or previous community volunteers. This situation was tricky due to the fact that four of our users were Urban Array backend developers, three users were closely affiliated to Urban Array, leaving one user that we outsourced, an unbiased voice.
To pivot from this issue, we used the user interviews to learn more about the perspective of the developers, the roles and responsibilities expected of current Urban Array volunteers, and what drew them to Urban Array in the first place.
Along with positive insights from our users, we also discovered critical feedback that wasn’t yet brought to the attention of Urban Array stakeholders:
Defining the problem
From previous client meetings, Marquis had emphasized the need for my team and I to design for users in low resource settings, specifically for users in the south-side of Chicago. The issue was that in our strict time frame, and users from a low resource setting weren’t provided. My team had to pivot.
In order to establish alignment with our clients, we made two problem statements, a macro and micro.
Opportunity seekers need a digital orientation that sets clear expectations, shows the value of participation, and provides social proof so they can trust Urban Array’s presence in their community
Opportunity seekers need volunteer experiences that empower them to build their skills, gain experience, and expand their network so they can develop themselves and their community.
We made a long-term problem statement to align with our client who had a very wide scope. Additionally we acknowledged his wishes for our design to address individuals from low resource communities, specifically Chicago’s south side, which we couldn’t have research-backed design due to the lack of users.
The immediate problem statement was a main focus for our three week sprint, while keeping the macro problem statement in mind also for future recommendations as Urban Array continues to scale.
To guide the upcoming concepts and designs, my team and I took for our user insights and synthesized them to four guiding principles:
So a thorough volunteer application feels more personal
Give members a voice
To facilitate passionate contribution in the development of their own community
Make users feel valued
From the beginning to built trust and motivation to play a role in this community
For a volunteer experience that requires a high level of commitment
Having a clear view of the main focus and the design principles not only helped me concept designs for the user’s needs, but also build empathy for Marquis and the potential users.
Ideating solutions (Concepts)
I focused on adding a personal touch point for every page to allow the user to feel a personal connection and be emotionally invested on how a volunteer could be involved.
New direction (Rallying for our users)
In between testing our concepts with our users, my team and I realized juggling between on client’s wishes of having a strenuous onboarding process and user needs, we were at a crossroads. From my past account management experience, I found a solution that would both adhere to Marquis’s initiatives as well benefit the user:
Have a streamlined user onboarding process.
But in volunteering in an Urban Array project, to have a more hands on approach, to best utilize user areas of skills and growth.
Presenting and defending this pivot to Urban Array would be backed by research on making onboarding as easy as possible and is ultimately about getting users involved:
The team and I would then use these concepts as inspiration for our prototype.
With research backed concepts to push forward into prototyping, the team constructed a site map to flush out structure and scope of design.
To address user needs and balance client requirements, the team and I focused on having a concise landing page, and an onboarding process that would be personalized to highlight value for users. However, in order to volunteer on a project, the user would need to meet with an Urban Array member (per Marquis’s request).
Passing off our prototype to the Urban Array team, we also provided research backed recommendations:
Evaluate the motivations of individuals from underserved communities
Gauge reactions to Urban Array’s value proposition without previous knowledge
How users respond to membership levels as an incentive
Gauge general community’s understanding of blockchain concepts and the Array Coin
Clear, concise content that highlights value for users
Marketing videos should be under two minutes in length
Avoid tech-lingo in website language
Instead of a mandatory in-person meeting for membership, consider video and phone calls
As we presented our final prototype to Urban Array, Marquis communicated that he was impressed, the developers stated that they were excited to start flushing these pages out, and that there would be an internal meeting the same day with the whole Urban Array staff to start improving their platform.
Passing off our solution to the Urban Array team, they have since implemented our content strategy and designs
Urban Array struggled with recruiting volunteers and communicating the value prompt of blockchain and cryptocurrency.
My team and I solved for that, and helped their business model with engaging and attracting more volunteers.
We developed an onboarding process and re-designed their homepage, and implemented a landing page to present the values of the organization to reduce volunteer attrition.
What I learned
Further improved my client relationship skills, especially when the client has many expectations
Align with your client as often as possible, make them your champion
Utilize client meetings for whiteboarding, problem statement, and other alignment exercises
To collaborate with developers and communicate our designs
To design based on assumptions and design best practices, backed with research and continue testing in the future.
To pivot during user testing, and utilize the opportunity given to gain insight even if it’s not what was expected