Online Volunteer. Get involved virtually from your home.
As a first project for the General Assembly UXDI, I was assigned the design of an application focused on social causes. The idea of creating a tool that would help people make difference in the world was extremely enticing. However, the time factor was a big obstacle in terms of research.
I didn’t establish any specific assumptions related to this topic in spite of me having been involved with different charities and communities in the past. Therefore, and because my time was very limited, I started quickly to come up with questions that would provide me with relevant information instantaneously. My goal was to find out if there was a real interest towards a philanthropy application, and if potential users felt they could make an impact using it.
A group of 6 users participated in my interviews. This group was mixed in terms of gender and their profiles were very diverse. Most of the people were from the UXDI GA class, and a couple of them were random people from the subway.
I collected information related to the user’s behavior to know their experience with charities or social causes:
- Could you tell me about your experience contributing to any social cause?
- What type of social cause are you interested in?
- How do you prefer to be involved? Volunteering (i.e. personal time) or donations?
- What makes you decide to contribute to a cause or organization?
- What makes you feel connected to social causes or charities?
- What is the main reason that you would be willing to make a donation for?
- Where do you usually hear about non-profit organizations?
I personally found very difficult to create useful questions for my research. Some of them were very similar to each other, and that caused some of my users to feel a little confused. For example, questions #4 and #5 where answered pretty similar and I had to insist a little bit more to my user to get more accurate details.
From some of the comments that I got during my interviews, it’s clear people’s preferences around the nature of their contributions:
“I prefer to volunteer because I don’t believe in donations.” — — John, GA Student
“I really like to volunteer because I feel I am making difference, but I wish I would have more time.” — Lindsay, GA Student
“I made donations in the past, but I don’t know where my money really goes.” — Denisse, Subway traveler
For more details, take a deep look to the Interview Questions & Answers.
This part of my research took me an important amount of time since I got stuck trying to consolidate my conclusions. However, after an initial struggle, I converted successfully the raw information into useful data. This allowed me to take a direction and visualize my design.
Time and localization. People would be willing to volunteer more often if they would have the time and easy access to these events without incurring in a big commitment.
We needed to create a tool to help users to volunteer fast and comfortable.
Prototyping for the First Time
With all my conclusions gathered and the lessons taken, I had enough material to start a rapid prototype of my social app which I decided to call VOLUNTR.
VOLUNTR is an app that offers online opportunities to volunteer from home. That means that you don’t need to be present physically to do the task.
How will we do this?
Simple. We collect data from the app such as the hours that the user is willing to dedicate, the skills that the user can offer and their interests. Once the app collects this basic information, it can show the user different actions published from official social organizations that can be done from your home remotely.
I started with a simple but important action: SIGN UP for first time. This user flow is simple but a mandatory action.
The best part of the project, undoubtedly.
Prototyping 1: Sketching Session
The first visualization of VOLUNTR was very basic. My motto was to make it as most minimal and easy as possible to avoid frustration with the future user. Users don’t generally have time for volunteering, so let’s make their experience fast and furious!
Prototyping 2: Marvel
In order to make the experience more realistic without investing too much time, I showed my users the prototype made in Marvel to go through the interactive experience.
The Marvel prototype was tested with three users (all of them students of General Assembly) and I received a positive feedback. Most of them understood the user flow and actions that they had to accomplish during the test. However, quickly I discovered a HUGE problem:
- All my users didn’t notice that VOLUNTR was a virtual online tool to volunteer. They assumed this app was another social good app for helping communities or charities in person.
- They were confused by the sign-up screen. They didn’t know what the app was asking for.
The first feedback was a total surprise for me. After checking my previous prototypes I realized that the app description was not clear about the fact that the volunteer work is virtual.
After the feedback received, I worked in the home screen and I improved the sign-up process and the hours screen.
SCREEN 1: Home
- I added a logo to give a provisional identity.
- I rewrote the description to reflect the purpose of VOLUNTR.
SCREEN 2: Sign Up
- I redid the Facebook login button and I changed the CTA.
- I added a mini form to create the account.
- I added a ‘Skip’ option to let the user decide. They actually are planning to volunteer so let them feel free during their experience. If, finally, they decide to register in a volunteering opportunity, they can add their personal information later.
SCREEN 3: Hours
- I added a numerical menu tab to set the volunteer hours instead the initial radio buttons with specific a range of time. Our users need to have all the options possible.
- Design a high fidelity prototype.
- Improve CTA to make the content appealing.
- Create new scenarios to discover needs, and work in new features.