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Urban Array

Role in project

Research • User testing • Concepting • User flows • Prototyping •

Test planning • Sprint Planning • Sketching • Content strategy • Interaction design

Impact

We designed to improve Chicago’s south-side by increasing community engagement via cryptocurrency and instilling volunteer ownership in community rehabilitation projects


Urban Array

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.


Challenge

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:

Streamline onboarding

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

Build ownership

Marquis explained that one of the goals was for Urban Array to be self sufficient from society



First look

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:

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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.


Secondary research

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:

Understand blockchain

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

 

 
 

Drawing inspiration

My team and I continued our research with other organizations that could give us insight with our research goals

Looking at organizations out of market for inspiration

Looking at organizations out of market for inspiration

Onboarding experts: Tumblr and Canva

  • Provides clear value propositions during sign-up

Tracking impact: Track It Forward

Highlighting achievements of the user

Highlighting achievements of the user

Building community: Peace Corps

  • Clear expectations for project managers and volunteers

Client/Project management: Salesforce and Asana

  • Provide status updates and checkpoints for the user


User research

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.

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Listening, synthesizing, iterating, repeat

Listening, synthesizing, iterating, repeat

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We found that users main incentives to volunteer are    passion-based   , and the Urban Array user wants to get involved

We found that users main incentives to volunteer are passion-based, and the Urban Array user wants to get involved

We found that users find purpose in utilizing their skills and    learning new skills    and getting    experience    for those skills were a motivating factor

We found that users find purpose in utilizing their skills and learning new skills and getting experience for those skills were a motivating factor

 

Along with positive insights from our users, we also discovered critical feedback that wasn’t yet brought to the attention of Urban Array stakeholders:

 
We found that (   internal   ) users value what Urban Array presents but are not clear on how can they get involved. They feel the need more clarification about fundamental pillars of the organization such as the Array coin, and the blockchain aspect of the community.    Additionally, we also found that teams are often silo-ed and it is a hindering factor to internal communication

We found that (internal) users value what Urban Array presents but are not clear on how can they get involved. They feel the need more clarification about fundamental pillars of the organization such as the Array coin, and the blockchain aspect of the community.

Additionally, we also found that teams are often silo-ed and it is a hindering factor to internal communication

We found that the incentive of Array Coins were not the motivating factor, but more of the    passion for the community and utilizing, as well as learning new skills, drove users to volunteer

We found that the incentive of Array Coins were not the motivating factor, but more of the passion for the community and utilizing, as well as learning new skills, drove users to volunteer


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.

 

Immediate problem

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 

Long-term problem

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:

Honing our scope with a whiteboard exercise

Honing our scope with a whiteboard exercise

Personal touchpoints

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

Prepare users

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.

 
What we learned   :     Progress   : Incorporate points or achievements so users feel gratified as they input information     Social proof   : Show current and past projects to    demonstrate social impact    to build user trust     Value users   : Create    buy-in    with users before evaluating so potential members are not discouraged from volunteering

What we learned:

Progress: Incorporate points or achievements so users feel gratified as they input information

Social proof: Show current and past projects to demonstrate social impact to build user trust

Value users: Create buy-in with users before evaluating so potential members are not discouraged from volunteering

 

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:

Our team would reference organizations such as The Knot and LinkedIn, that make it easy for users to plan and showcase accomplishments

The Knot platform gives a checklist to measure progress

The Knot platform gives a checklist to measure progress

LinkedIn provides encouragement throughout the user onboarding process

LinkedIn provides encouragement throughout the user onboarding process

The team and I would then use these concepts as inspiration for our prototype.


User flows

With research backed concepts to push forward into prototyping, the team constructed a site map to flush out structure and scope of design.

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prototype

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).

The landing page addresses user feedback to simplify information, present value, and highlight how the social proof Urban Array is performing in the community

The landing page addresses user feedback to simplify information, present value, and highlight how the social proof Urban Array is performing in the community

Giving users a look into the onboarding process, that is focused on individual interests. This addresses the client requirement to have a vetting process as well as personalizing each step    Our users stated that the    personalization    would provide    value in completing the process      I designed the modal to further give personalized value to the user by recommending Urban Array projects based on skills inputted

Giving users a look into the onboarding process, that is focused on individual interests. This addresses the client requirement to have a vetting process as well as personalizing each step

Our users stated that the personalization would provide value in completing the process

I designed the modal to further give personalized value to the user by recommending Urban Array projects based on skills inputted

Before users are accepted by Urban Array into the community, they have access to an empty state dashboard. This gives preview of the value in being a member.    Our users communicated the biggest motivating factors would be the    current projects    and the    progress bar    to highlight their achievements

Before users are accepted by Urban Array into the community, they have access to an empty state dashboard. This gives preview of the value in being a member.

Our users communicated the biggest motivating factors would be the current projects and the progress bar to highlight their achievements


Next steps

Passing off our prototype to the Urban Array team, we also provided research backed recommendations:

Further testing

  • 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

Content strategy

  • Clear, concise content that highlights value for users

  • Marketing videos should be under two minutes in length

  • Avoid tech-lingo in website language

Onboarding process

  • Instead of a mandatory in-person meeting for membership, consider video and phone calls


Client feedback

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.

The result

Passing off our solution to the Urban Array team, they have since implemented our content strategy and designs

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Reflection

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

  1. Further improved my client relationship skills, especially when the client has many expectations

    1. Align with your client as often as possible, make them your champion

      1. Utilize client meetings for whiteboarding, problem statement, and other alignment exercises

  2. To collaborate with developers and communicate our designs

  3. To design based on assumptions and design best practices, backed with research and continue testing in the future.

  4. To pivot during user testing, and utilize the opportunity given to gain insight even if it’s not what was expected