UX Consulting
Mutual Aid
What's the Focus?
With so many volunteering opportunities centered around a specific organization, it can often feel stressful joining one with the expectation that one will dedicate an allotted time each week. Regardless, people may not always have the time available to set aside and would rather have a few smaller tasks to fulfill that do not require a longer commitment.

Why does this Matter?
Mutual Aid hopes to connect people by encouraging them to seek out assistance or offer to those in need. Such help can include various items or services or may also be used to bring attention to important events and issues happening in the local community.

How did we Implement?
Our team went through the design process to help Mutual Aid improve their user experience design. Although the application is still a work in progress, we were able to gather user insights and create prototypes with the information we discovered.
Duration
Sep. 2020 - Nov. 2020
My Role
Product Designer
Team
1 Project Manager,
3 UX Designers
Main Design Software
Figma
Research | Competitive Analysis
Various Volunteering Platforms

Our group chose three different competitors: Eventbrite, GoFundMe, and Depop. Although Eventbrite encouraged people to get involved with various activities, they were not necessarily as focused on the community feel. GoFundMe experienced the same issue, and many of the users couldn't genuinely connect with the people they were donating towards. Favorhood had the most similar interface to what Mutual Aid was trying to accomplish, but still experienced flaws. Favorhood made the app feel almost as a list of tasks, and although a vital component, was underdeveloped in comparison to Mutual Aid's goals.
Research | Affinity Mapping
Understanding Users

Our team then went through 12 interviews and noticed general trends in our users response. The biggest concerns were connected with the pandemic and users being nervous to use this application due to mandatory lockdowns and health issues. However, people were more open to the application after the pandemic subsided and if the application was more personalized to their interests.
Ideate | User Personas & Empathy Mapping
Overworked Owen & Helper Haley

With our user research, we estbalished two possible personas: Overworked Own and Helper Haley. Owen is the classic example of someone who is struggling and needs support. He isn't entirely sure who to reach out and uses this application as a way to find material help. Haley, on the other hand, wants to support those who are in tricky situations, such as Owen. We further evolved their thinking with empathy mapping, using both possible quotations of what they may say or short descriptions of their activities or personality qualities.
Ideate | Information Architecture
Organizing the Experience

Our team divided our sections into four groups: Homepage, Messaging System, Profile, and Community Feed. The Homepage would include the offers and requests. This would be submissions related to either asking for or giving help. The Community Feed would focus on events taking place nearby.  Profile will allow for greater customization and a collected place of one's postings. And the Messaging System would allow for greater connection between users.
Transforming Ideas
Design | Sketches
A Basic StartWith the areas divided, I created a few sketches that for what we could include in the application. Not every idea was implemented in the final process, but this helped us decide the best designs moving forward.
Design | Low-Fidelity Wireframing
Connecting the Dots

Moving forward with my sketches, we created low-fidelity mockups to help identify the screen flow. As shown in the designs, we established a few basic features of different components. For the Offer/Request and Community Feed, we focused on wha the user would need to input to make a post. The Messaging System shows the ability to accept or deny. The profile introduces how the user would find their own posts.


Design | High-Fidelity Features
Identifying Key Components

With the low-fidelity designs finished, we began to incorporate aesthetics and additional improvements to piece the project together. The areas we focused on were: Onboarding, the Home Page, Adding an Offer/Request, the the Community Feed, Adding to the Community Feed, Requesting, Receiving, and the Users Profile.

Design | High-Fidelity Features
Onboarding

When logging into the application, users are shown a few fun doodles that help set the user in a calm and friendly mood. The onboarding provides some of the benefits of the application and brief descriptions of some of the features within the application.

Design | High-Fidelity Features
Home Page

Once the user logs in, they are shown an offers and requests tab. The offers tab shows items or services that people are willing to give. The requests tab shows what users are in need of. Users can favorite certain postings and view the post in greater detail, such as the description and images. They are able to reach out if interested.

Design | High-Fidelity Features
Adding an Offer or Request

If a user has an item or service they would like to request or offer, they can make a posting by clicking on the plus icon fixed to the bottom right. They can provide some details of what they item or service is and give their schedule availability.

Design | High-Fidelity Features
Community Feed

With the community feed, users can gain a better sense of what's happening in their local area. They're able to filter out if they're looking for a specific event as well as simply browse the general postings. Once a posting has been clicked, they will be to read further information.

Design | High-Fidelity Features
Adding to the Community Feed

There are a few types of postings a user can make to the community feed: events, donations, and petitions. For this feature, we focused on events making sure the user could add a description, place, time, pictures, and contact information.

Design | High-Fidelity Features
Fulfilling Posts

If a user decides to fulfill a post either for an offer or request, a message will be sent referencing the original posting as well as a customized message. The other user can choose to accept or decline.

Design | High-Fidelity Features
Receiving

When a user receives an offer on their post, they are able to accept or deny the offer. They can also message each other and come to an agreement if there needs to be some adjustments. The users will need to message their locations to one another as well.


Design | High-Fidelity Features
Profile

The profile section helps users see their own postings and edit them afterwards if needed. Offers, requests, and community are all accessible from the profile page, as well as the users own account settings by clicking on their picture.


Test & Iterate | User Testing
Improving the Volunteer Experience

With the high-fidelity's complete, our team went through 10 more rounds of interview's where we tested our design for functionality. Listed below are two HMW statements that dive further into some of my improvements for the application.
Test & Iterate | HMW
How Might We Add Quantity?

Several of our users noticed that there was no way to ask for a certain amount of a specific item. For example, if a user needed only 1 scarf as opposed to 5 being offered, it would be more efficient to have an area that gave users the ability to request only 1 scarf. With this feedback, we added a section where users can input the quantity they would need.

Test & Iterate | HMW
How Might We Improve Filtering?

Another point from user feedback was the ability to have more filtering options included. We added the favorites option as well as the type of offer and the delivery method. This allowed for greater filtering options if users were looking for something more specific.
Growth
Next Steps
Greater Customization
Users should be able to flag certain posts based off interest or disinterest. For example, if a user is particularly interested in items, they may choose to say they are not interested when seeing services. This will help the app determine what the user is most interested in.
Connecting with other Users
Another area of improvement should be focused on helping users find one another. By adding more of a social function to the application, users are more likely to engage with application as they have a greater chance of making meaningful, helpful connections.
Growth
Takeaways
Client Feedback is Vital
This is my first project working with a client. Although my project manager typically met directly with the client to give us feedback at our weekly design meetings, it was great to see how the application began to change and which aspects of the designs our client liked or disliked. Overall, I learned a lot from my team members and the feedback we recieved.
Plans Change
Sometimes, the aspects of the application we think are going to be successful are not. And that's okay. I learned that through meetings with the clients, we will always need to be consider not only the user's needs, but also what the client is looking for. It's important to stay flexible and open-minded to have greater success and communication.
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