Envisioning a mobile operating system focused on the efficient and effective reallocation of resources within a community.
Research & Design
Research, Ideation, UX Design, System Development, Testing, UI & Motion Interaction Design
Sketch, InVision, Illustrator, InDesign
Block Project Inspiration
Derived as a reference to the concept of The Neighbourhood Block, this platform symbolizes a space in which a community can come together and create a powerful support network built through the communication and organization of neighbours.
How can we create a platform that allows users to uplift and support each other through accessible resource distribution? As the need for community-based support grows, local facilitators need a functional, centralized, and efficient way to engage local individuals.
Existing platforms do not encompass the flexibility needed for efficient and effective resource distribution on a local scale. Existing models are often distributed across multiple platforms or subjects of larger external companies. A centralized platform that allows organizers and donors to engage with their community on a local, flexible scale is essential for building community-based support networks.
Key Constraints & Considerations
In examining assumptions regarding the product during initial brainstorming, key topics surrounding scope, convenience/efficiency, and information communication emerged as important considerations.
The scope of categories will have to be broad enough to encompass a variety of calls to action, requests, and match a variety of potential resource fulfilment options.
The platform will have to offer an effective form of duality in which users can submit requests and fulfil tasks in a manner that is convenient, flexible, and effective.
Effective and efficient information communication will be essential for users in determining the effectiveness of interactions as well as the success of their results.
A benchmark analysis was completed in order to gather information on the existing product market. This involved looking at other companies within the volunteer space like VolunteerMatch, as well as other task-based platforms that match local demand with freelance labour such as TaskRabbit.
The target market for this app is community members who are looking to help or receive help for local initiatives. The most frequent users would be organizations who already participate in these sectors (such as soup kitchens, clothing donation businesses or other volunteer groups), but would also aim to attract engaged individuals or otherwise unrelated groups of people.
As an engaged community member, the use of the app would ideally occur on a daily basis. However, depending on the individuals capacity there may be large gaps between uses, so the basic functions must be memorable. The app will have a dashboard, making it easy for users to check important information, such as local requests or search based on their own criteria. Inputting information needs to be done quickly and conveniently, and store draft data for users if an entry is not complete.
Physical environments involve on-the-go or otherwise busy environments. The user may be interacting with community members who practice a different culture or language than them. Social contexts include fears for safety or getting scammed or tricked while donating time or resources to a source. Organization context suggests factors such as disorganization and lack of confidence in current systems or current practices means intimidation or lack of knowledge about certain topics, opportunities, and efforts.
The user has many ways in which they can input data into the application, assisted by data compilation to suggest tasks based on their profiles occupation and interests. The application will also be able to execute search and filter programming based on a users location. Outputs of information will be notifications and alerts from the platform to notify the user about task or request status, as well as if there are any new requests in their area that may interest or apply to them.
The MoSCoW method was used to prioritize features and simplify the initial idea.
Non-negotiable requirements that are necessary for successful completion.
Filters and subgroups
Requirements that are important for project completion but not necessary.
Mapping and location services
Requirements that are nice to have, but have a smaller impact if left out.
Will Not Have
Requirements that have been recognized as not a priority.
Open data document sharing
Social media integration
To determine the most important features of Block (Essential System Requirements), I conducted a series of interviews with subjects that reflected a diverse group within the target audience. This was done using a series of questions to gauge interest as well as functional prioritization in reference to use and daily integration.
Interviews produced insight into two common threads, convenience and information, that were emphasized as a priority, interest, or of particular importance to the proposed user populations.
"It would be great if the product had the potential to be as passive as possible when I have a low capacity or am short on time."
"I'm not always able to get the word out and organize/run my business at the same time, it would be great to automate some form of drop off system that I could edit and change when needed."
"I need a flexible, efficient, and preferably effective way to engage with requests in my area."
"I think I would need to be able to casually browse the options and have most of the information up front... that way I would know what is required of me and if I can fulfil that request."
Andre Gustin | Donor
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Occupation: Bakery Owner
Skills: Good communicator, generous, puts a lot of effort into taking care of the people around him
Attitudes: Friendly, warm, selfless
Levels of Technological Experience: Fairly tech-savvy, uses technology in his everyday life but often has to ask his children for help
Andre is a bakery owner operating out of Toronto. At the end of some days, Andre is left with unpurchased baked goods, he would like a way to donate the excess to those struggling with food security and avoid creating unnecessary food waste.
Pain Points / Concerns
Andre has tried donating through larger food banks before, but because the amount of baked goods he has at the end of each day is unpredictable, it is hard to create a mutual and sustainable deal between larger food banks.
As the baked goods he produces will harden within a few days time, he needs a way to donate them knowing they will be consumed within the coming days.
Would like an easy and convenient way to pass along the baked goods.
Needs a donation method that is flexible depending on the quantity he has to donate, as well as the time of day.
Would like an efficient and effective way of donating his food excess, knowing that the food will not go stale.
Blair Grams | Requester
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Occupation: Student, Organizer
Skills: Organization, Communication
Attitudes: Thorough, Values connectedness
Levels of Technological Experience: Very skilled
Blair is currently a student who simultaneously volunteers and organizes with Community Fridges Toronto. She is always looking for new ways to get people involved in the "give what you can, take what you need" initiative.
Pain Points / Concerns
Would like a passive way to advertise the Community Fridge program.
Hard to know what certain locations are lacking (nonperishables, fruit, meat) without regularly visiting the locations herself.
Would like a way to connect with community members who have extra food or goods.
Would like a remote way to help monitor what sites require more of certain products.
I established two separate user flows, outlining the user's movements through the product depending on their desired outcome. This was necessary in order to differentiate between the two possible roles of giver of resources, and receiver of resources.
Donor User Flow
Requester User Flow
Low Fidelity Wireframes
Low-fi wireframes were used to outline simple visual elements and begin to create a consistent visual language while mapping out the functionality of the platform.
Visual Research & Decisions
When conducting visual research I aimed to implement visual representations of the tone the app will encompass: approachable, engaging, collaborative, and clear.
This directed my design choices regarding along with attention to accessibility standards.
After conducting user testing using a high fidelity prototype, I gained insight into some areas that could be improved for a better user experience. I then aimed to streamline the filtering process by creating a more efficient tagging system. I also introduced a bookmark feature that would allow individuals to save requests that they may want to complete at a later time.