Designing For The Modern-Day Social Activist

Consider all of the possible causes you have seen shared on your social media, hear/ read about in the news, or heard from your friends and loved ones. Poverty, hunger, health care, racial inequality, gender inequality, climate change… we could be here for a while. We are never more than a swipe or click away from the many challenges this world faces. For many, there is a healthy dose of skepticism applied to what we read online, especially when we are being asked to enter our credit card information to support those causes. How do we know what organizations and charities are credible?

My fellow classmates of General Assembly’s UX immersive course, Jordan Cantor, Nefertiti Bourne, Maryna Filipava, and I were interested in exploring this space to learn what we could do to support the modern-day social activist as they attempt to navigate the masses of information available online in search of credible and factual information.

The team followed the double diamond design approach to structure our research and design process over the course of a week and a half.

The UX design process followed throughout development


In the first few days of this project, we focused our efforts as a team on connecting and empathizing with the needs, goals, and frustrations of social activists. A screener survey was developed to identify participants for user interviews, as we wished to learn about these experiences firsthand. We then scheduled and conducted remote moderated interviews using a discussion guide throughout to ensure consistency per interview.

The key takeaways from these interviews included:

  • Social activists support causes they can personally relate to
  • Social activists are supportive of causes relevant to their local community
  • People trust when their network trusts
  • Social media & word of mouth are the most common methods social activists use to learn about and educate themselves about causes they care about
  • It is important that social activists have transparency regarding how their contributions are being used by organizations

Given that these insights from our target audience would serve as the foundation for our future designs, we developed a persona that was reflective of what we learned about our target audience. Throughout the design process, we continued to revisit the persona and asked ourselves, is this what Amy needs?

Our fictional representation of our target audience, Amy.

To further empathize with the experience of our users, we developed a user journey to reflect the emotional experience of Amy as she researches and supports an organization claiming to support a cause she cares about. The user journey as a tool helped the team to visualize Amy’s experience and helped us to see specific areas of improvement.

Amy’s Journey as she seeks to learn about an organization & make a donation

With a clear understanding of our scope and problem space, we began working to develop a design that solved how might we provide social activists with credible information on philanthropic causes and organizations that have been fact-checked as well as certified by the people they trust?


As a team, we had many ideas and thoughts about features our product may include. To focus our designs, we utilized feature prioritization methods including the MoSCoW method and a feature prioritization matrix to come to an understanding as a group regarding the importance we placed on the delivery of features within our product.

Feature Prioritization

With the understanding that every idea is an asset during the ideation phase of design, we utilized the design studio method to explore ideas and create a shared vision for moving forward. Looking back, this was crucial to the team’s process as it allowed us to consider and visualize the various ways our features may come into the design of our product.

Design Studio Sketches &low-fi whiteboard wireframes

Engage: Make a better society

Engage is a network-based charity assessment service that users may connect to existing social media platforms. It connects social activists based on geographic location and is tailored by the user. When using Engage, users are provided with background information on organizations and charities including; history, mission, value, business model, and key partnerships.


Early iterations of Engage were rendered as mid-fidelity wireframes. To ensure we were on the right track, we put our design through a round of usability testing with five users representative of our target audience to gain direct feedback on our designs. Participants were asked to complete three tasks, which were created based on Amy’s Journey.

Mid_fidelity wireframes

Round 1 Results

Task one: When tasked with reviewing volunteer opportunities they have signed up for, users seemed to struggle with the navigation menu and the clarity behind the names of each tab. This indicated to the team that we needed to reconsider the naming of our primary navigation.

Task two: When tasked with finding and liking an organization supported by their network, users attempted to complete this task in various ways, rather than the path we assumed they might. This signified that we needed to include more than one way to review there networks rating of an organization

Task three: When tasked with making a donation and sharing to social media, users who attempted to find the organization through their saved page had a hard time finding the organization given the page was not listed chronologically, so users had to scroll to the bottom of the page to find the most recently liked organization.


With feedback and insights from this first round of testing, we felt encouraged by the results and moved forward with high-fidelity designs with changes informed by testing results. We put these designs to the test once again to gain feedback from our target audience.

High Fidelity Wireframes

Round 2 Results

Task one: Users completed this task 37 seconds faster than in round one of testing, with the average success rate increasing by 24%. This was encouraging feedback as it validated that adding a calendar to the design was helpful to the user.

Task two: When reviewing the outcomes of task two, we saw that half of our users became confused by the two-part nature of the question, which was helpful knowledge for the team moving forward. Due to the confusing nature of how we posed the task, we saw an increase in time on task of 24 seconds longer and the ease rating decreased by .62.

Task Three: Users completed the task at about the same rate as in round one and we saw the ease rating increase by 4%.

Recommendations + Next Steps

Given this project was completed for the purposes of learning, the creation of high-fidelity mock-ups and user testing was the end of our team’s journey with Engage. However, given the time to continue with this product, we have some thoughts regarding the next steps for our product.

  • Including the recent activities of users in account settings
  • Ensure that each organization or charity listed throughout the website has an approval rating based on the user’s network feedback
  • Conducting user interviews to assess users’ desire/ need for an interactive section of our product, such as creating posts or comments.
  • Testing focused on the donation portion of the website, specifically if users would benefit from being provided with pre-determined recommended amounts.
  • Conducting testing with the donate option higher up on the page, so it is more visible to the user when opening the page.




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