Milaap Case Study

The Challenge

Formative Research Methods

Secondary Research

  • Computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW)
  • Civic engagement issues in rural communities
  • Internet access in rural America

Primary Research

Research Insights

  • Transportation is a main inhibitor of civic engagement in rural areas.
  • Civic engagement often serves as a retirement role for aging Americans.
  • Older people often need support in order to learn new technologies.
  • The majority of Americans who lack broadband internet access reside in rural communities.

How might we ensure folks without transportation in rural areas can get involved in their communities?


  • Older residents wouldn’t have to learn new technology
  • Accessible for communities that lack internet access
  • Best fit for our project time constraint


Conversation Tree

Purple boxes denote chatbot responses, orange boxes denote user responses

Testing and Iterating our Prototype


Future Work

  • Create a driver on-boarding system: Several of our usability test participants raised concerns regarding trust between riders and drivers. How could riders be assured they would be safe with their volunteer driver? Milaap currently relies on the “everybody knows everybody” mentality in some rural areas that we learned about in our primary research. However, in the future we would want to develop an on-boarding system involving background checks for drivers.
  • Explore use of Natural Language Processing (NLP): Our final Milaap prototype uses a system of numerical user input such as “Enter 1 if need a ride, or 2 if you want to drive.” It would be interesting to develop a prototype that hypothetically uses NLP to create a more conversational experience. I’d like to see if our older users would prefer this version, as it would likely feel more natural to learn.
  • Consider how Milaap could scale when areas get broadband: Milaap could effectively serve communities without high speed internet access. However, toward the end of our project we began to wonder what would happen to this service when those areas inevitably do receive better internet. This would be an interesting topic to explore in the future.


  • High tech solutions won’t always be the best fit: While most groups were developing high tech solutions, our team was delving into the low tech world of SMS. Because of this project, I feel better equipped to consider the full range of potential technological solutions that may best serve a specific user base.
  • Embrace ambiguity: During this project I learned that I must become comfortable with being uncomfortable. As a designer, I hope to further trust the human-centered design process when confronted with inevitable ambiguity because it allows for unhindered creative exploration and unexpected findings!




UX Designer, CS Graduate

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Hannah Johnson

Hannah Johnson

UX Designer, CS Graduate

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