Empowering volunteers to engage directly with their community.
VolunteerConnect is a mobile application that seamlessly connects aspiring volunteers with organizations and opportunities aligned to their interests/needs. In this project, I designed an MVP of the end-to-end application, allowing users to complete the core experience of signing up for a volunteer opportunity and joining organizations.
User Research, Market Research and Competitor Analysis, Persona, Journey Mapping, User Stories, User Flows, Wireframing, Prototyping, Usability Testing, Branding, UI Design
Figma, Maze Prototyping; Designed for iOS
Individual, Academic Project
According to a Stanford research study, over 90% of us in the United States want to volunteer, but only 25% of Americans actually do. (Source) This begs the question: What is driving such a large gap in the number of people who want to make social impact and those of us who actually do?
One of the biggest reasons as cited by research, is that the available volunteer market for volunteers and NPOs (non-profit organizations) is ambiguous and disorganized. While volunteer matching websites and companion apps for organizations exist, these are more often than not, decentralized and inefficient.
Someone who's interested in volunteering has to either find an organization on an out-dated website or through word-of-mouth. Then, they usually go through an extremely painful process of calling the organizations to learn more, emailing over important forms, and scheduling through an archaic booking system before successfully signing up to volunteer.
For example, below is the website and cumbersome registration process for a Non-Profit Organization in the Bay Area that provides programs for retirees:
I know personally, I have found this to be a big deterrent preventing me getting more actively involved in volunteering. However, there is an opportunity to leverage technology to enable prospective volunteers to stay active and connected with their communities in an impactful, meaningful way.
While conducting secondary research, I recognized that there is a two-sided marketplace that exists: prospective volunteers and conversely, organizations seeking volunteers. However, it was clear that most indirect competitor apps solely supported volunteers finding opportunities, because organizations require functionality that is more effectively supported on a web application:
Therefore, I set the scope of this application will focus on volunteers, as they will more likely benefit from a mobile application based solution. The assumption is consistent with the market: that organizations use a companion, web solution to input their information and post volunteer events that users interact with on a mobile app.
After identifying additional knowledge gaps and remaining questions, I conducted primary research with user interviews to better understand who we should be designing for.
With the goal of understanding user motivations, expectations, needs, and pain points regarding volunteering, the following questions guided the interviews:
Using an affinity diagram, I was able to uncover interesting insights that helped set the design direction and key potential features I should be designing for.
The below user persona represents the target users and guided the design process by helping prioritize which features are being built.
With the vision and target users defined, I mapped out how a potential volunteer would use the app, highlighting any potential opportunities for features. I asked some key questions about what interactions would allow for optimal discovery and sign-up of an event:
Leveraging the user journey and all supporting research, I was able to identify and prioritize the following potential features for the application:
As I used my site map and user flows to sketch out initial wireframes, I recognized that my feature set was slowly expanding. I decided some of the initial "nice to have" features would not be in scope for this initial version of the app. This meant that features such as: visualization of impact metrics, social features, and monetary donations would not be prioritized in this MVP.
To test the full breadth of features in this MVP, the primary tasks I had users complete were:
1. Complete new user sign-up process for this volunteering application
2. Research and join an organization that supports a cause you're interested in
3. Find and complete sign up for a local volunteer opportunity
The main objectives of the usability testing were to:
1. Assess overall usability - Observe how intuitively users can complete tasks related to the app’s core features
2. Identify pain points - Challenges users experience when completing each task
3. Highlight any gaps - Find any features that users were expecting to have, but did not see in the prototype
Enter a few details about the causes you want to support, desired volunteering frequency, and share location preferences. Instantly get a personalized feed of volunteer events and organizations that meet your needs.
Efficiently research your recommended volunteer events and organizations by filtering, sorting, or searching your feed. With all the important information and options in one place, your search becomes easier than ever.
Once you've found the right opportunity for you, sign up in just a few clicks! Receive reminder notifications about what to bring and where to be, a few days before the event.
VolunteerConnect was the first end-to-end mobile app I designed. I saw a lot of growth as a designer, having worked on the entire design process from ideation > research > prototyping > final design!
Taking on such a big project was daunting, because there were so many possibilities for features and scope of of the product. Taking the time to organize and prioritize the feature set and the user flow, helped me define an achievable scope for this project and underlined the importance of a product roadmap in the design process.
This MVP is only the first step in creating a holistic system for volunteers to engage with their communities. What the next iteration would include, is an enhanced notifications tab and more developed social feed to increase engagement on the platform.
When working on such an expansive project, I recognized the importance of prioritizing usability testing and fast design iterations. With several flows, including: onboarding to discovery to booking, it's crucial to test the design with users and iterate as you go, to ensure you are always designing with user needs at the forefront.