The goal of the project was to design a solution that facilitates social activities for the environment. This project started from the motivation that even if the individual actions are important, they are not enough to break the climate change. Hence, the Team Environment case study ambition was to help communities of activists and involve the public to become active in environmental issues. In detail, our goal was to give a product to the user able to enable them to:
At the beginning of the project, our team established that the goal of our design project should be focused on something useful to bring more people to take action for the environment. Our problem statement could be synthesized as:
“There is a lack of knowledge on how to organize social events and manage all the formalities”
To start the investigation, we defined two different user targets to explore: activists and citizens. The activists’ interviews were more focused on what type of difficulties they found in organizing social activities and what are the main problems that stop people to take action for the environment. The citizens were asked about their thoughts about organizing the social events and the main reasons that stop them from making actions for the environment (if they were interested in that).
The team was of three people. I was the only one following the human-computer interaction degree. The other two members were pursuing a Data Science degree. For that, I was the only one with experience in conducting similar projects. I mostly focus my effort on users, conducting interviews and analyzing the results. My role was to keep track of the workflow. Besides, my role was checking the work of the other team members that were less experienced in conducting UX projects. Instead, in the part of the high-fi prototype, I had a minor part for the development in comparison to the others.
All the process was done online due to the pandemic. Besides we planned to interview some local authorities to understand how they help activists organizing social events and what is their role in the organization. Unfortunately for time constraints, we didn’t achieve to reach local authorities for interviews.
Thanks to the interviews of seven activists and seven citizens, we had really impressive findings. Personally, I was surprised how many people found problems while acting for the environment or when they tried to do that. Our interviews give us thirteen main breakdowns that after a team meeting, we synthesized as four main problems:
From these problems, we defined a focus point that was to create something for activists or simply for those who want to organise their environmental social activity, helping them to manage the event organization in all the aspects (legal, advertising, etc.).
After understanding the focus point of the project. Our team decided to start to ideate. Instead of doing a brainstorming session online, we decided that the best way was to have at least three sketches for each person and then discuss all of that. The results were impressive. Our approach gave nine different ideas that after a discussion became only one solution that mixed more ideas extrapolated from different sketches. The sketches are visible clicking here. It is a platform with several features listed below:
Besides, we decided that the web application was the best choice for our prototype. It was consistent with the finding of the interviews where more activists expressed their preference on the computer to perform their activism.
After the ideation phase, we define how our lo-fi prototype should be. The first step was to define a little glossary of terms that helped to have a clear understanding of the different categories of the website. The glossary of terms consists of three main terms:
Then, the relation between the several platform’s components was defined:
After that, we defined the pages needed to develop and the task that users should be able to test in the prototype. Since we were constrained to work remotely we decided to use the Balsamiq cloud for our Lo-Fi prototype. After we created the Lo-Fi prototype, we conducted user testing with it. These tests were useful to understand what we should improve and to have first feedback from the users to start the development of the Hi-Fi prototype.
Based on the insights received on the Lo-Fi prototype, we started to develop the Hi-Fi prototype. Our team decided that to have a consistent Hi-Fi prototype, the first thing to do was define a colour palette. The idea was to start from a shade of green that is always correlated to the environment. The prototype was developed in vuetify.js because we thought that the Material Design was the style more adapted for our application.
We developed a prototype where the users can understand some interesting values of our project, they can create an event and ask for specific help in our matchmaking section. Besides we provide two features more: a homepage to simulate the process of entering the website for the first time; a dashboard page with an already existing project to help the user to understand what is the potentiality of our website. To support a better understanding of which tasks the user can perform with the prototype, we defined two different user tasks descriptions that are possible to resume in creating an event, for the first one, and ask for help, for the second one.
In more detail:
First Task: creating an event.
The process of creating an event starts on the dashboard of the website, right after you log in. On the dashboard page, you want to go to the events page. Once the application will show all the events that you have already created, you want to create a new event. On the creation page, you will fill in all the options that you needed and save the information. After that you create the event, you want to check if your last event was created with the right information.
Second Task: Find help.
When you have already created an event, you feel that you can’t do everything alone because you need help from an expert. So look for a section where to find help. Once found, you will filter the volunteers based on availability and the type of help that they can give. After filtering, you decide on one and you try to have first contact by sending a message to them
Personally, I was really surprised by the product that we created. As I said before, I was the only one with some experience in similar projects and it gave me a lot of responsibilities. It helps me to increase my leadership and project management skills. In addition, I had the opportunity to learn a different framework useful for frontend development (Vue.js).
The project was with academic purpose and maybe will not never have a production release but it gave me some interesting insights reusable in other projects. Personally, I didn’t expect so many difficulties in communication between activists and citizens. The thing more impressive to me was the difficulties that a citizen willing to become an activist face during the journey. These problems are probably repeated in different sectors. For that, I think that the idea of matchmaking is a powerful feature that I could reuse in the future. Matchmaking is not only useful to solve a specific issue or understand a specific concept but it could help to create a community and a long collaboration with two or more people with the same objective.