FWD.us, a political advocacy nonprofit, had an advocacy tool called Built By Immigrants, which allowed immigrants to submit stories about their experience and for users to share these stories online and with their legislator via writing a letter or calling.
A couple years after launching the product, a few things were clear:
low rate of story submission
low rate of readers taking political action
low reach to broader audience
And thus a redesign was needed – here’s Immigrants Write.
Team: Design Team of 3
Duration: 6+ months
Platform: Web application
Role: Lead designer – ideation to prototyping
Human-centered research brought the biggest realizations to our redesign – security and privacy fears for writers and apathy of political advocacy for readers were major insights that would never have been discovered without person-to-person conversation.
Methods: competitive analysis, comparative analysis, heuristic evaluation, usability testing, surveys, empathy map
- Story Readers
- log in requirement to share stories on social media was a huge barrier
- calls to action were difficult to locate
- users were overwhelmed by the amount of text on the page
- apathy for political advocacy was paramount
- more likely to share inspirational, relatable content and content about people they know in their networks
- Story Writers
- security and safety was a large concern as many potential writers are undocumented
- lack of interaction with their stories after submitting
- Field Organizers
- overwhelming amount of hand holding and time spent on recruiting story writers
Our research was incredibly insightful after we mapped connections.
Methods: affinity mapping, user personas, user journeys
- Four main areas for improvement
- user interface design
- content format
- content quality
- changing user apathy to empathy
We worked with FWD.us staff and organizers to develop different solutions to fixing the problem of apathy.
Methods: design studio, rapid prototyping, sketching, user testing, user flows
- Collaborating with FWD.us staff and field organizers was key as it revealed internal organizational processes and tactics that were previously unknown
- Creating user personas helped us convey our design decisions to stakeholders
- Paper and lo-fidelity user testing revealed highest priority areas to improve
Weekly check-ins with a few stakeholders created more buy-in from non-technical staff members about the design process.
Methods: wireframing, prototyping, visual design, weekly check-ins
The final product capitalizes on the incredible technology behind the product while making a few key adjustments:
- for the writer, a completely new story submission process provides security context, tips, and story prompts to help decrease the amount of time spent between organizers and writers, and provides opportunities to stay engaged after submitting through story update entries
- for the reader, more accessible filter/search options, the ability to call and write their representative without leaving the story page, and the feature to search stories of Facebook friends combats apathy
- in general, a cleaner and more actionable user interface helps with engagement, learnability, and efficiency
This is one of those projects where I played all the roles – stakeholder management, researcher, designer, and project management. I naturally look back and know there are some things I would’ve done differently:
- Less waterfall and more agile: unfortunately the organization wasn’t in a position to have dedicated engineers on the project, so I missed an opportunity to really build alongside developers and test throughout the redesign. Luckily I’ve been able to work using the agile method on Fight for Families.
- More diverse user research: I conducted a thorough 30-participant survey for story readers, however the majority of the participants were Millennials, students, or in the tech field. To really understand political apathy it would be more beneficial to research users varied by age, location, and political affiliation.