Pro-bono project for a charitable giving app as part of the Capstone through DesignLab's UX Academy.
DonorSee is a charitable giving platform dedicated to connecting aid workers with donors all around the world. DonorSee is challenging the very infrastructure of traditional philanthropy, making sure more money is going to those in need and less is being used on infrastructure and administrative costs.
DonorSee was started by Grety Glyer after he raised $100,000 to launch his platform. Inspired by his time building homes in Malawi, he realized that too much funding was lost in "administrative" cost among other costs.
With modern technology, people are more accustomed to instant gratification. By allowing DonorSee users to see their direct impact through raw video updates from fundraisers giving them instant gratification. DonorSee believes that traditional charity models are outdated and lack accountability and transparency. DonorSee was built on being transparent and accountable to increase donations.
Interviewed DonorSee's founder to better understand the company and their goals. This provided crucial insight that shaped my strategy for creating a better user experience for the app.
User Testing and Interviews
Testing early provided insight into current issues with the app to be addressed first. Interviews helped me develop empathy for users and understand people's motivations for giving and their giving habits.
Design and Testing
Created low-fi wireframes to test through UsabilityHub and InVision to validate solutions. Created Hi-fi mockups as a representation of solutions.
I first met with the founder to gain a better understanding of DonorSee. I was able to gain a better understanding of who DonorSee was, what their values are, and what their goals are. Through this process I identified three major goals to focus on:
1. Increase New User Sign-Ups
2. To have more donors than fundraisers using the platform
3. Increase conversion of "automated monthly giving" feature
These may seem like very typical goals for an organization, especially for one as young as DonorSee, but it was very important to establish these goals as a foundation to our solutions.
Surveys are a great tool to facilitate insights from many people. A few key insights we gained from surveys were that people give at different frequencies - some give weekly, monthly, or every few months. Also, the main reason some do not give at all is that there seems to be a lack of trust for charitable organizations or they do not see how their donations actually make an impact.
I also discovered that people state that they donate to make themselves feel good or to help others. Those surveyed claimed to not be motivated by extrinsic incentives, but instead motivated by intrisic incentives. Extrinisic motivators seem to deter people from giving because people want to feel like they are "good" and giving for the "right" reasons.
I ran a series of interviews with 3 potential users of DonorSee to gain empathy with them by asking them about their experiences, goals, and attitudes towards charity. Charitable giving can be a sensitive subject and bias is often hard to prevent when dealing with sensitive subjects. I had to ensure that their information was confidential and would not be shared with anyone. Gaining their trust was important to reducing bias.
I'll get more into my experience with the user interview process further later in this case study.
"It's hard to trust many charities today because it seems like more money is being spent for promotions than actually helping those in need."
- Roy Kim
In the initial research phase, I set up to find what mattered most to donors, as well as becoming acquainted with DonorSee. From this work emerged key learnings that would inform the rest of my work.
Firstly, I was able to uncover three key problems donors faced that DonorSee solves:
Less money given to organizations with high administrative and operating costs and more to actual people in need. The more hands funds have to go through leads to less money actually going to those in need.
Seeing the direct impact donations make was the top reason why those surveyed chose to give to charity. Transparency is a must for charitable organizations and showing direct impacts is one of the best facilitators of more giving.
Many people choose to give in-person as opposed to online because of the personal connection they can make and they often get instant gratification by receiving a smile or a "thank you" from those they helped. Giving online often seems impersonal and lacks instant gratification.
Research shows that people tend to give me when they make a personal connection to who they are helping. Donors don't like generic "Thank You" notes or emails, instead a personal connection goes a long way in sustaining donations.
Secondly, I identified three core principles that aligned with what users wanted from charities and the mission of DonorSee:
I shortened these principles into the acronym: E.A.T. as an easy way to always rembember these principles.
By keeping all the principles in mind, I would be able to understand: Who I am designing for, why, and what. I would have to make sure all solutions solved the problems above with: efficiency, accountability, and transparency.
Who I am Designing For
Volunteer in Uganda
“I want to share the story of my work in Uganda with others in hopes that they will be inspired to give.”
“I donate to Compassion International because I get a handwritten letter each month from the child I sponsor.”
“It’s hard to find a trustworthy charity these days. I usually have to research a charity before making a donation.
To take my research even further, I relied on an initial usability test of the current DonorSee app with the individuals that I interviewed. This allowed me to develop more empathy with users, especially in their interaction with the actual app. As a designer, I want to solve every problem I can, but with only 2 weeks, I knew that wouldn't be possible. An early usability test allowed me to identify the most crucial problems that needed to be solved right away.
There are many user testing tools in the market, but I struggled to find a tool that I could use to record user interactions and their thoughts as they spoke aloud. Most tools required a monthly payment or a pay-per-test fee, and with a budget of about $0 , I had to improvise.
I had already utilized Lookback as a tool to record usability tests of websites in previous projects, but I couldn't use it for app testing without using an SDK plugin in the app itself, which I did not have access to.
I used Reflector 2 to record my phone screen and Lookback to record my computer screen, simple way to user test an app!
So by using a Reflector 2, a tool that records your phone screen and displays it to your computer screen, and Lookback to record my computer screen, I was able to find a cheap way to record my usability tests. It sounds complicated, but it was actually easy to set up!
I chose this method to test because it allowed users to interact with the app as they normally would. I didn't want any distractions that could interfere with how they interacted with the app. There were no cameras or microphones that would be in the way. I found this method made it very easy for users to interact with the app organically and not treat it as a test, which might have caused bias in their interactions.
"Any problem can be solved with a little ingenuity."
TV Show Character
User research provided me invaluable insight into our users. One critical insight was how often people give to charity. Based on those surveyed, I found that users' giving habits were quite sporadic, usually falling into 4 categories:
1. Those who donate every 3-4 months
2. Those who donate every week
3. Those who donate monthly
4. Those who rarely donate
DonorSee currently only offers monthly giving, and wants to increase their automated giving. So, my proposal was to cater to our users' different giving habits allowing them to choose an option that fits their needs. By adding only a few more automated giving options we:
Increased giving options without overloading users with options and causing analysis paralysis to increase automated giving sign-ups.
I would love to see more testing to validate my proposal, but from my current research, this is definitely and idea that is back by some data. Of course only further testing will tell how effective it will be in increasing sign-ups for automated giving.
I ran into two problems with DonorSee's search function while running user tests.
Users didn't know what to search for, especially new users
Search results were confusing and didn't make sense to users
The next step was to perform card sorting exercise to visualize how users organize products into categories to develop the information architecture for the service. Through userflow mapping, I was able to construct a process that most users would go through to complete their shopping tasks.
These efforts gave me a blueprint of what features and pages to incorporate into my design solutions. Now I knew what users wanted from their Instashop experience an could frame its purpose.
Current Search Results Page
The search bar is not prominent enough on the homepage. The search results are confusing; users did not know if the profiles that came up were the results or if the post below the "Learn more about monthly gifts" section were the results.
The search bar is now more prominent on the screen to ensure it is easy to find. I also categorized the results in the "results" page to show how results were displayed. Added a categories page for those who are unsure where to start or need a little more guidance in their search for a campaign to donate to.
To ensure my solutions would be practical and useful while working within my constraints, I relied heavily on user research and testing to create a user-centric solution; focusing on simplicity and E.A.T. to meet the needs of both types of users: donors and fundraisers.
Insights from research and testing were the building blocks of my final designs. I started by sketching and buildings lo-fi prototypes, validating them through user testing before creating my final hi-fi prototypes.
Testing prototypes early, using UsabilityHub and Invision allowed me to gain valuable user insight before investing too much into detailed designs. For instance, in my first few prototypes, I had focused all my efforts on improving the experience for donors, that I had neglected the fundraisers who are also our users. Testing early allowed me to discover that I needed to improve the experience for fundraisers as well allowing donors and fundraisers to interact harmoniously on the same platform.
Below are a few final ideas I adopted to improve the experience for both types of users and meet their needs.
Improved homepage with more categories in top nav and more prominent search bar.
Less confusing "Search Results" page
Updated "progress bars" for campaign posts
More options for "Automated Giving" to accompany the different giving habits of users
DonorSee helps make a difference for both donors and fundraisers. Fundraisers have a quick and easy way to start a campaign and post updates that will attract more views, increasing their chances of success. Donors have an easier, more trustworthy way to donate to those in need that actually makes a difference that they can see.