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STRIVE app Case Study

 

An app that aims to help homeless people integrate into their local community

  

For the last five years’ core homelessness has been rising year on year in England, reaching a peak just before the pandemic when the numbers of homeless households jumped to over 219,000 at the end of 2019.

It must not be forgotten that homeless people have strengths and abilities just like other people. The situation in which they find themselves does not define who they truly are as persons. The STRIVE app aims to help homeless people use their strengths to help them integrate into their local community.

Problem Statement

People experiencing homelessness, and have moved into new accommodation need a way to ensure successful local community integration.

My Role

This was an individual project where I was responsible for all aspects of the design. I conducted the research, ideated concepts and designed & prototyped solutions. This case study is a part of a UX/UI Design Bootcamp I completed.

Timeline

2 weeks

My Design Process

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Research

USER RESEARCH ON £0 BUDGET

Let’s start by making it clear. The best design work requires user research, whatever the circumstances. Without research, we’re just guessing, especially for this project as it has a very specific target audience. Due to time constraints and the pandemic, I had to find ways to gain some real user insight- even when I couldn't access these users directly.

So what did I do?
I carried out secondary research, through competitor analysis and gathering information from the countless studies available on this topic. Namely from 'CRISIS' which is the national charity for homeless people in the UK. Below is some interesting information I gathered

COMPETITOR ANALYSIS

I carried out competitive analysis on four apps with similar offerings-providing help and support to homeless people. I focused on User Interface elements and User Experience Flows - including the onboarding process and features. I then evaluated these by listing the strengths and weaknesses. This helped me with assessing the industry standards, market gaps and which features did and did not work.

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KEY FINDINGS

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Street Link

  • Users are both homeless people and people who would like to support homeless people

  • Specifically used to send an alert to a charity to send help or search for nearby help

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Street Group

  • Users are homeless people

  • Essentially a list of resources available in the users area

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Samaritan

  • Users are both homeless people and people who would like to support homeless people

  • Essentially a donation service with a social messaging feature

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Our Calling

  • Users are homeless people

  • Our Calling is the only app that offers all of the above features, with a geo-location service embedded. However, it does not include a social messaging feature which may have been helpful for users to get extra support

SECONDARY RESEARCH aka READ READ READ

I then gathered data through reading relevant and reliable articles, case studies and books on homelessness. In particular, on what homeless people actually need, to minimise the pressures when being homeless, to help them integrate into their local community.

I also watched this interesting TED talk by Richard J. Berry, the mayor of Albuquerque, where he explains how he and his staff started a citywide initiative to help the homeless by giving them day jobs and a place to sleep -- and the results were incredible. You can watch the video below.

As recommended by NNG (Nielson Norman Group) I also analysed user-forum posts that addressed the important questions surrounding how homeless people can be supported and integrated into their community.

‘I've been homeless... I can tell you that having to panhandle is humiliating. It makes you feel terrible, so bad that for many, the only succour is drink and drugs. The money gets spent on the cheapest booze, just to mask the shame. If someone had offered me a job, even if for just a day, I would have jumped at it without a second's hesitation.’

Anonymous, Forum Comment

‘Money you earned through legitimate work is much less likely to be squandered on drugs and alcohol. You feel like you might actually be worth something after all. For that reason, after doing legitimate work, the money is FAR more likely to result in accepting other help, like beating addiction, etc...’

Anonymous, Forum Comment

Define

AFFINITY MAPPING

To make sense of my research, I gathered all the qualitative data from my secondary research onto post-its and grouped them into categories. This helped me to find common themes and uncover insights from my findings.

1. GATHERING THE DATA

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2. IDENTIFYING THEMES

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INSIGHTS

I organised the information into 5 themes. Below are some of the main takeways from the research.

💰  Donations

  • Donations to charities and food banks go a longer way than donating money directly to a homeless person

  • Homeless people are more likely to spend money earned from working on ways to help them instead of feeding addictions

🏠  Accommodation 

  • Finding stable accommodation is more important than short term emergency housing for homeless people

🤝  Volunteering and Mentorship

  • Homeless people need volunteers and mentors to offer advice and support

💼  Employment

  • Homeless people want to work because they want to feel dignity and feel that they are a part of their community.

👩‍⚕️ Health and Wellbeing

  • Homeless people are more likely to accept help (like health, addiction, and accommodation) after they have spent the day purposefully.

HOW I DECIDED WHAT TO PRIORITISE

The reality is that not everything can be done at once. Making an informed decision on what to prioritize from the research is needed. Therefore, before I ideated solutions I needed to identify the most important problems that help satisfy the needs of the users.

MY THOUGHTS

🏥

Help Services

There are already apps available giving advice and tools to find services and accommodation in their local area- however upon research no service is available that helps homeless people find jobs.

🤝​

Accepting Help

More people are likely to respond to help services when they have spent their day and money purposefully, like on a job. Upon research only advice centres are available for this kind of service.

💰

Financial Independence

Most of the time people give money or food. But finding ways for homeless people to make their own money can practically help them to reintegrate society.

ACTIONABLE INSIGHTS

By providing homeless people with jobs, homeless people are getting paid which provide them with the means to support themselves. This helps to improve their wellbeing by making them feel purposeful and feeling that they are a part of their community. Research shows this results in them being more likely to accept the extra help needed like mental health services etc.

Ideate

HOW MIGHT WE

I then re-framed the problem into HMW questions to help spark ideas for possible innovative solutions

The Problem

Homeless people don't know what jobs are available to them

​🤔

How might we...

ensure homeless people are aware of the job opportunities available to them

The Problem

Homeless people want to feel a part of the community

​🤔

How might we...

ensure homeless people have opportunities to meet and interact with people from their community

MIND MAP

I then mind-mapped ideas using the HMW’s focusing on helping homless people integrate into society through the use of jobs and finding communities.

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KEY TAKEAWAYS

🗺  Geolocation

  • Users can find jobs, community events and career training events in their area

🤝  Community

  • To help build a sense of community the app will offer community events such as rehabilitation support groups.

  • Users will be connected to volunteers at the place of work to help them with any legal documents.

🚗  Free Ride

  • Users are offered a free ride to the job/event to make the process easier for the user and promote higher engagement with the app.

DESIGN ITERATION NO.1: HOME PAGE

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I looked at different ways to present the home screen. The first screen has headings representing the different types of jobs available and with information on getting advice for other services such as mental health support and rehabilitation.

The second screen shows the different services available on the theme of employment and community, like training, jobs and meet ups. I thought this was a better and clearer way of representing the HMW question of 'how to make users aware of the jobs available'.

The final screen shows the other resources that are available under a separate tab, this would make the information on the home screen less overwhelming as a dedicated space for this will be easier to help navigate the information. Therefore, I decided to go with the last 2 screens.

DESIGN ITERATION NO.2: USER FLOW

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I wanted the journey from selecting a job to getting a ride a quick and smooth journey. The flow above shows the screen of searching for a job, selecting a job and looking at more details, to booking a ride to the job.

TASK FLOW

I then proposed a flow to ensure there was a clear user navigation from searching for a job/event to selecting their method of travel.

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Design

MID-FIDELITY WIRE-FLOW

I created a mid-fidelity wire-flow of the main journey users will take. I focused on spacing and Information Architecture.

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KEY DESIGN DECISIONS

🏠  Home Screen

  • Users are shown jobs, training sessions and community events that are in their area.

🔍  Search Screen

  • Users are able to choose what type of opportunity they are looking for by selecting the appropriate filters.

🚗  Getting There

  • Since the opportunites are in the users local area, users are able to choose whether they can get directions by walking, cycling or using public tranport, as well as getting a free ride by a volunteer.

Why STRIVE?

  • I decided to name my app ‘STRIVE’ as it has positive connotations towards making hopeful changes individually and as a community.

      

Deliver

ONBOARDING

QUICK. PAINLESS. PRIVATE.

The app starts off with a smooth onboarding experience. There are only 2 screens that clearly explain the purpose of the app. I decided against using a log-in feature as my research suggested that homeless people prefer privacy. Users also have the option to completely skip this interaction.

HOME SCREEN

ORGANISED. DIGESTIBLE. PERSONALISED.

The home screen displays the users location and suggests opportunities in their area.

I used Gestalt’s Law of Proximity to help users organise the information faster and more efficiently. The cards also have tags that represent the type of opportunity it is. They are also consistent with what the users will see on the search page.

To create a sense of community, I also included a ‘Community Impact’ section which shares the success stories of the app and community.

SEARCH SCREENS

SEAMLESS AND FAMILIAR.

When users tap the search icon they are presented with a map, toggles, and corresponding coloured map pins. Users can filter the results by tapping on what type of opportunity they are looking for.

Using Jakob’s Law I used existing mental models associated with apps that have maps so users can focus on their task rather than learning a new model. However, this is with the assumption that the users have used apps with geo-location before.

The cards display only the key information; the title, a description, and the distance. Including the appropriate tag showing which type of opportunity it belongs to, to keep the design consistent.

JOB DETAILS AND RIDE SCREENS

INFORMATIVE AND CLEAR.

When organising the information on the job details screen I wanted to make sure all the appropriate and necessary information was available, without it becoming too overwhelming. The use of clear Information Hierarchy and icons on all of these screens helped with this. I also included clear CTA’s so users are induced to click on the next stage which is to pick a journey option. 

PROTOTYPE

DESIGN SYSTEM

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Accessibility

I used the accessibility standards and guidelines like W3C's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 to ensure wide range of diverse people can access the app.

APPROPRIATE COLOUR CONTRAST

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NON-TEXT CONTENT

All non-text content that is presented to the user has a text alternative that serves the equivalent purpose to make the information accessible.

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TARGET SIZE

The size of the target for pointer inputs is at least 44 by 44 CSS pixels.

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Reflections

⏱   If I had more time...

  • I would've wanted to explore the community aspect of the app by maybe creating a space for users to talk to mentors and other users to help build a stronger community.

💃  I enjoyed...

  • As this was a 'blue sky thinking' project I really enjoyed having no limits on the design by worrying if my ideas were 'viable' in real life or not. It really forced me to think outside the box and not be bogged down by logistics.

💫  I wish...

  • I could've spoken to potential users of the app as having that primary research would've been so helpful.

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next up

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RE-DESIGN / USER-TESTING / ACCESSIBILITY

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