Published in


LIFE Camp — Building a Requests System

Team: 2 Designers (co-designer Alyssa Zhang), 1 PM, 1 TPM, 5 developers
Spring 2021


LIFE Camp is a NY-based nonprofit that aims to use community intervention to make sure youth stay out of the criminal justice system. They have significantly reduced violence rates over the last couple of years.

Our goal was to create an internal tool for LIFE Camp to sort through and prioritize requests as well as quickly view any trends.

User Research

LIFE Camp wanted to better understand the needs of the community, especially due to the challenges that have been brought on by COVID-19.

During our initial calls, they emphasized that they wanted to:

  1. Conduct surveys about people in the community who request their services
  2. Analyze the results to understand which resources are necessary for the community
  3. Allocate the resources and help as needed

We asked staff to walk us through several user flows where we learned users would be typically requesting:

  • To receive help and therapeutic wellness services to overcome trauma
  • To encourage their children to stay in school
  • To receive financial support for their children
  • For support to deal with personal impacts of Covid-19

Due to the vast amount of requests, they wanted a more sophisticated way to go through the project.

The Problem

Due to constraints of time, LIFE Camp has difficulty fulfilling the large amount of requests and needs a prioritization system to understand which ones to go to first.


We initially ran into some issues with our user research questions because they were often filled with needless technological jargon- instead we aimed to re-ask them in an intuitive way.

For example, instead of asking “Do you want the survey to be a one-time form or are multiple submissions allowed?” we asked “Do people request help multiple times?”

Design Decisions

User Form

With the user form we were unsure whether to go with a single page or a more type-form esque. Because questions did not require as much individual thought and explanation we went with option 1.

We iterated on the form to allow for more LIFE Camp branding and to ensure that the content copy was accurate.

Request Cards

Because of the vast amount of text we decided to go with option two to allow for concision and easier scanning with the icons.

We then added tags to highlight urgency of requests as well as the kind of request for easier scanning.


For the filters we decided to go with option two because of the large amounts of data so a sidebar would allow for easier multitasking.

We simplified constraints further on the sidebar because we realized that the user wouldn’t typically stack filters and it would make more sense to have all the filters present at once.

Final Product

From left to right — form page, requests page, and a trends page
The design system


Overall this project was extremely difficult because we realized as students we live in a tech bubble where we assume clients will understand our technological jargon. Learning to iterate on this took engineering time away and ultimately made it difficult to launch the product in one semester. The engineering team is currently iterating on this project in their off-time and we hope to launch it sometime in 2022.

As a result Hack4Impact has reassessed our commitment to project sustainability and currently is only pursuing projects on a two semester timescale. Working for nonprofits is highly rewarding, but as students we must be cognizant of our ability to overcommit and make mistakes.

As always I’m greatly in-debted to my co-designer who contributed to the bulk of this case study. You can read her take here and view her wonderful portfolio as well.



Cornell Hack4Impact is an organization that designs and develops software for nonprofits.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store