During Spring of 2016, I took a design course called Challenge lab at Berkeley’s Jacob Institute of Design. We were prompted to design a human-centered solution to solve a problem within the disaster response space. We designed a platform that reduces the amount of time disaster relief aid workers waste sorting through unsolicited donations. We won 2nd Place at Berkeley’s Social Entrepreneurship Challenge Lab Competition. I was selected to present my team's solution to disaster response leaders in Washington D.C. (NRCC, FEMA, Red Cross Headquarters, and Care Package). I pitched our design proposal, user research insights, and final prototype over a course of a semester and I am grateful for the opportunity to grow as a presenter.
Designed Solution: DonorRegistry — A wedding registry for donations Our platform provides structure to the process of donation collection and management in-kind donation collectors can report the specific items they need. Donors can view this registry and pledge a date to bring in an item. Donor’s also receive reminder texts on the day of, reminding them to bring in their item!
I was the lead user researcher and UX designer in a team of 5 students.
Step 1: Understanding the Problem Space
The Problem: When a disaster strikes, people want to donate. Although in-kind donations come from a good place, they bottle-neck the donations of actually needed items and waste the time and energy of the limited amount of aid workers.
Design Challenge: How might we minimize the amount of time it takes in-kind donation collectors to sort through unsolicited in-kind donations?
In order to further understand the problem space, I led the team (2 Product Managers, 1 Software Engineer, 1 Product Marketer) through through various design thinking exercises. After visiting a local American Red Cross and three local churches in the Berkeley area, we created two distinct user personas: tech & non-tech savvy donation collectors and donors.
Step 3: Designing Storyboards and Low-Fidelity Wireframes
Storyboarding: After forming an in-depth understanding of our target users pain points, we ideated different concepts that we believed could tackle their problem of unsolicited donations. Through our user research, we discovered that community donation leader had successfully used Amazon as a tool to rally facebook friends to buy needed donations. We designed storyboards that showed the concept of a registry-like tool where organizers could request specific items.
Wireframes: After receiving positive feedback and critique on our storyboards, we began designing wireframes. We designed our homepage to show different organizations collecting in-kind donations, prioritized by the distance from the donor.
Step 3: User Testing and Feedback
We showed users our first iteration of wireframes. Working with basic balsamiq wireframes helped us focus less on the UI, and more on the flow. The low-fidelity encouraged our users to question our design decisions and suggest edits.During multiple think-aloud sessions, we heard users express the following issues:
Users expected the homepage to be divided into different disasters rather than non-profit organizations they could support.
Users did not go to our website with any idea of what item they would like to donate. The “Search item” type-in box was untouched
We iterated on our wireframes to fit the mental model of a typical donor and donation organizer.
Step 4: Prototyping
We designed two distinct user flows for our two target users: one for the donation collector and another for the donor.
The time bomb widget gives users the sense of urgency, reflecting how close the organization is to meeting their item donation goal.
- We designed our registry interface to resemble an excel sheet. Multiple NGOs rely on Microsoft Excel to track and log donations, which would make the transition to our platform simple. This design also makes it easy for non-tech savvy people to pick up quickly. The registry automatically populates numbers in real-time once a donor has made a pledge.
- When entering item descriptions, users are prompted to be as specific as possible (size of clothing, type of water cleanser, etc.). This reduces the donation of items that are undeliverable or unnecessary.
- Organizers are able to send mass or individual reminder texts to donors who have pledged the donation of an item through DonorRegistry.
After pitching our product to multiple organizations, our tool was used by three non-profit organizations to collect donations after the 2016 Ecuador Earthquake in April and the Napa Fires in 2017. We handed off our project to a group of software engineers in Toronto working on connecting disaster organizations to large commercial corporations.
Below is a flyer of our product shared with local organizations, families, and churches during the Napa fires.