Volunpeer Retrospective.

For the first project in General Assembly’s UXDI course, we were tasked with developing an app that addressed a given prompt. My prompt for Project 1 in the UXDI course was Social Good. After doing some preliminary research, I knew I wanted to do something with volunteering, as it’s a clear part of social good that could use some technological solutions.

I found that all of the people I interviewed felt that volunteering made them feel good about themselves; they were contributing to society in a constructive and helpful way. Yet, almost none of them had volunteered in the last year… or even 5 years.

When asked what was preventing them from volunteering more often, there were three common reasons stated: time, access, and incentive.

Time: If users were available, they cited that most volunteering institutions require some sort of set schedule or time commitment.

Access: Users felt they weren’t very aware of local ways to get involved. If they weren’t involved in a church, it was difficult to find local charitable organizations. Also, most nonprofits & charitable organizations have very limited budgets, so their ability to market for help is very constrained.

Incentive: Some users just didn’t believe in volunteering if it wasn’t immediately beneficial to them. They required real incentives to consider giving their time.

I sat down with all the user data and came up with a solution that could potentially solve a user’s problems with time and access. The app is a simple idea I called Volunpeer, a location-based app for volunteers & organizations.

Basically, a user would be able to log in to the app, sign up, and immediately see charitable organizations in their vicinity that need help. With a few clicks, the user can sign up to donate time to organizations, on demand. If a user is walking home from work and feels like being charitable, they could notify the organization and they’d be ready to volunteer whatever time commitment they’re comfortable with.

The second user type for the app would be the actual organizations. They’d be able to create a profile page, and make events for volunteers to sign up for. Once users submit time to donate, the organization can filter which volunteers it’d like to accept.

Once I constructed the initial concept, I started sketching user flows. After a few iterations, I was able to develop a good starting flow for both the volunteer and organization.

I used the prototyping app Marvel to scan my sketches into my phone and create a lo-fi mockup of the app. Marvel is surprisingly robust for its simplicity, I was able to create a fairly accurate mockup using just hand sketched screens and hotspots.

My initial mockup actually performed pretty well in user testing. I gave users 2 different scenarios to run through. The first was to use the app as a potential volunteer to sign up to donate time to an organization. The second scenario was to use the app as an organization to create an event and approve a volunteer.

While both scenarios worked pretty well, some of the additional functionality I built into the mockup was pretty ineffective. The layout of the search page I created was very confusing and almost no one was able to understand the goal of the page. Additionally, there were several labels and buttons that created some confusion with the users.

With some further iteration, I’m sure I can create a more useful search page. Some more investigation into users’ needs from the app would be needed to further focus the app’s features.

Check out the prototype for Volunpeer here: https://marvelapp.com/7b003f6

Let me know your thoughts on how it could be improved below!

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