How Might We Help People Find Volunteering Opportunities That Better Fit Their Lives?
In the Fall of 2018 I took a course in User Experience (UX) Design at Brainstation in Vancouver. It was a challenging course and I learned a lot about the sorts of things that contribute to a great user experience. This project, Helpz™ was my submission for the class.
HELPZ™ Connects Volunteers with Opportunities
Many community-minded individuals choose to volunteer as a way to give back to their communities and further the causes they deem important.
The Problem: Unfortunately, there are few options currently available to allow people to easily browse these opportunities in the ways that matter to them.
The Solution: The Helpz™ application would allow users to search for volunteering opportunities based on Categories of Causes, Proximity to the Volunteer, Volunteers Schedule or a combination of all these things.
Users can jump right in and start using the app with little or no effort on their part by simply connecting the app with their Facebook account or providing a name and email address to set up a user account.
User Experience Starts With Understanding Users
Many community-minded individuals choose to volunteer as a way to give back to their communities and further the causes they deem important. But what do they deem important? What makes volunteering work for some and not others? What do people want?
With that in mind, I surveyed 21 people with previous volunteer experience and asked:
- How long they had volunteered previously
- Why they volunteered
- What their experiences were — both good and bad
- Their desire to see case studies and reviews
- How they would prefer to search for volunteer opportunities
- Their social media use and preferences
My Survey Results Indicated
- About 50% of respondents wanted to be able to browse for opportunities before setting up a profile
- About 50% of respondents wanted to be able to set up a user profile by connecting to Facebook
- While about 50% felt that the cause was most important, they differed in the ways they wanted to search for posts
- About 85% said they’d like to be able to read reviews of volunteer organizations
- All respondents were interested in seeing stories about the various volunteer organizations
- Everyone found volunteering to be a positive experience, but some people felt unappreciated and expectations were unclear
The Helpz™ Users
I identified 3 main categories of users and created personas for them.
Tracy: A 22 year old student. She volunteers to gain work experience. She’s impatient with new apps and deletes them if they present too many hurdles. She’s done a little volunteering in the past and chooses opportunities that help her gain experience and build her resume.
Thomas: A 34 year old divorced Dad. He’s interested in helping others and wants opportunities that fit in between time with his kids. He’s looking for places that align with his career and will sometimes want to post his experiences online.
Terry: A 58 year old woman in the burbs. She’s interested in opportunities that open her up to new experiences and provide a chance to meet new people.
Each of the personas had different core needs and wanted to interact with the app differently. Some wanted to create a profile before searching, some wanted to browse first. Some wanted social sharing built in and others didn’t. Some wanted to search by area and others by type of organization. Each user workflow is illustrated as are the wireframe and information architecture.
A Working Prototype & A New Appreciation for UX Design.
I created the functional prototype above using InVision.
A clickable demo is online here.
It is just a prototype however, its purely to demonstrate proof of concept and usability. — I look forward to creating a real project like this one day soon!