By: Olasupo Oladeinde, Johnny Benavente, Jess Ortega, Ellan Bryant and Thomas Jones.
Immigrants face a variety of obstacles when they seek a new life in the United States. These challenges range from the everyday, like navigating a new place or communicating in a new language, to the more complex, like completing legal paperwork and finding legal help for that process.
Because a lot of the problems that immigrants encounter when they arrive in a new country are interconnected, it is difficult to pinpoint a primary or central issue. It’s at this point that we set out to use the UX research process to understand what the greatest challenge is that immigrants face when they seek to make a new home in the United States, and how to create a solution that alleviates this struggle.
Asa group, we felt it was very important to be very precise and clear with the questions we would choose for our survey. It was of paramount importance since it would be the first time we had data and feedback from our users. Using the survey canvas method was an important exercise that encouraged a great amount of discussion between our group. It allowed us to explore the perfect questions in which to ask and in what order would make the most sense for our users. At the end we believed we had a logical, easy to understand, and efficient questions that would help us to understand and potentially locate our users pain points.
We had around 30 responses from users who had all experienced the process or knew someone who had gone through the process of immigrating to the United States. We found that most of our users instead of turning to the internet for advice actually turned to friends and family first for information.
We found their three major pain points to be
- Paper work
- Access to resources
- Language Barriers
At this stage, it was time to interview people from the target group we were trying to assist. We were fortunate enough to find four people who each had experience immigrating to the United States. They each represented very distinct experiences, which provided us with a broad range of insight.
We asked each of the 4 interviewees:
- Can you tell us a bit about your immigration experience?
- What was the most difficult part of this process?
- During this difficult point, how did you feel?
- Is there something that you wish you had, that would have helped you?
- If you already have legal status, what do you think you would have done if you had not been successful?
We had interviewed 4 people from different countries — we were lucky enough to find people from different continents — Africa, Europe, and Latin America. We found all of them faced a few common pain points — difficulties with paperwork, a disorganized immigration system, and language barriers. All contributing to the emotional stress of being far away from home and culture shocked.
“I would have liked a more friendly platform to get my answers.” Maria, 26
“You can’t do anything. (without your papers). I felt like an outcast.” Ola, 26
After the interviews, we had a much clearer view of not only who our target demographic was and what they were going through, but also a better understanding of the problem we were seeking to solve.
To pinpoint the central or most prominent problem we wanted to solve, we did a series of exercises using data from the interviews.
How Might We Statements
Using post-its, we composed many How Might We statements, in order to find opportunities to address the problems immigrants face. As we went through this process, we were able to reign in abstract concepts into more concrete language. For example, instead of just commenting that Immigrants have a difficult time immigrating to the US because of the language barrier, it was much more helpful to phrase it as, how might we provide English language support to immigrants so that they are better able to navigate the US immigration process?
One of the most challenging problems for our team was creating our Affinity Diagram. Even having all of the data and the information we needed — it was a difficult exercise to give each idea its proper categorization. Once it was organized though as a group we felt we had a strong understanding of our problem, users, and how to proceed forward.
The empathy map was a crucial moment for our group. Empathizing with our users and understanding who they are, what they go through, and what they are experiencing is crucial for us to try and understand how to potentially solve their problems. Once we started the exercise on a macro level we started to understand who our users were on a human level. Our users started to come to life and it made it easier to put ourselves in their shoes as we started to concept and ideate what kind of solutions we could come up and help them with.
By this point, it was much clearer to us who we were designing for. Using all of the qualitative and quantitative data we had gathered thus far, we created our user persona, Oksana Medvedenko.
Oksana is a Serbian Immigrant who came to the US as a student. She was passionate about her studies and wishes to become a teacher. She feels stressed and frustrated because she is about to graduate and her student visa is about to expire. She wishes to stay in the US so she can pursue her dream of becoming a teacher. She is currently very anxious, struggles with the language, and does not know where to start in terms of paperwork, documentation, and legal resources. When she was home in Serbia originally applying for her student visa she had the support of her family but now she is all alone and does not know who to turn too.
The purpose of the mind mapping exercise was too rapidly ideate possible solutions to the problem, no solution to complex or simple. This helped us brainstorm more effectively and get the ideas flowing. The ideas we came up with during this exercise ranged from the very concrete to the totally virtual. It is through this exercise that we created the skeleton for what would become our solution to the problem.
Our user journey map was a paramount part of the process for us as it’s what lead us to new ideas on how we could help our user. Our focus was to capture Oksana’s emotional state as she went through the process of gaining her legal residency. It helped us to be empathetic in our design process and keep in mind the emotional journey that goes along with becoming a legal resident.
Problem Statement & Hypothesis
We have observed that the US Government website is not helping immigrants easily navigate their documentation, access legal services, or successfully complete their legalization process which is causing frustration, disappointment, and years of legal turmoil.
How might we improve the immigration process so that immigrants are more successful in submitting their paperwork and starting their new lives in the US as legal immigrants?
We believe creating a support website and community for immigrants will help them attain legal status in the US more efficiently and decrease their frustrations through this process. We will know that we succeeded when we receive feedback from our users confirming that they were able to successfully complete their paperwork.
Ideation- Crazy Eights
As a group we felt the key to this process that made it so helpful was the time limit per concept. We had a minute to come up with a potential solution and from there we had to move on. It challenged our creativity and prevented overthinking. At the end we put all of our ideas together and we were all very impressed with how many great ideas we had come up. We realized all the previous research and emphasizing with our users had created a space where it was pretty effortless to come up with solutions since we knew our users so well.
Solution: Immi-Assist Virtual Assistant & App
Immi-assist was conceptualized as a responsive site that could also be used as an app, in order to increase accessibility to all immigrants.
The main feature of our solution would be a virtual assistant that can answer any and all immigration questions for our users. In addition, through an on boarding survey, the virtual assistant would have the ability to tailor the app experience to the user’s specific immigration needs. After the on boarding process, the app would populate all of the forms the user would need to submit to the government to obtain legal status (as these are specific to each immigrant, depending on the type of visa they hold, nationality, and many other factors).
Another feature to the app would be a forum through which users would be able to connect to other immigrants. Through this forum, immigrants would be able to find an immigration mentor to help provide them with moral support through the process.
Low Fidelity Wireframe and Prototype
Our group used a combination of ideas to create and implement a low fidelity wireframe and prototype in Invision. We came the conclusion that our solution would be a responsive site that could be used as an app that would use a virtual assistant to guide the user through their legal paperwork process, using an on boarding survey to tailor the experience to the particular user’s needs.
One of our user testers heavily resonated with our app and solution. He mentioned how his grandmother was currently trying to renew her green card to stay here in the US and didn’t want to return to Iran. He exclaimed “ the paperwork is by far the biggest struggle she has faced. She’s old as well and struggles with locating the documents online and filing and uploading documents.”
The second user had experience with the immigration process and she mentioned that our app seemed like an incredible idea. She had a difficult time understanding that the docs were customized for her case and her needs.
The third user was pretty tech savvy and navigated through the prototype with a fair amount of ease. He mentioned that there was a lack of CTA’s on the main screens that could cause some confusion for less tech users
We found that overall user testers really appreciated the product and felt there was a great need for it in the market. Users agreed that the paint point we were solving for was by far the biggest hurdle and had wished they had something similar during their immigration process. Users understood our concept of a virtual assistant and that we were trying to guide them through the process effortlessly. There were some screens such as the forms and survey screen that need some revision due to users being confused about exactly what they were and what to do. We felt in the future some UI tweaks to the homepage and forms page are needed so users can easily understand where they are in the app and what they need to do.
- Implement more CTAs
- Define the full version of the survey
- Find an adviser in the matter of immigration cases
- Create additional pages