Project Type: UX Design & Product Design
Role: Lead Product Design
Unify is an application designed in partnership between FemTechNet and the University of Washington. My senior capstone group and I designed and developed this iOS mobile application. Unify provides a platform for women in the tech field to make connections and search for jobs at women-friendly companies. We partnered with FemTechNet, an organization dedicated to educating students and others about women in tech. My group had the goal to create a design for a mobile application that will provide women in the tech field with a powerful networking and job-finding tool.
My role in this project was that of Lead Product Designer. I contributed a great deal to the stakeholder interviewing and research process, as well as to the wireframes and prototype design. I took the lead as product strategist with creating our digital wireframes and visual designs in Sketch, and then transporting them to make an interactive prototype in InVision. However, each of us had too many roles to count over the course of this project, and each of us put in the work necessary to make our product great.
For our initial stakeholder interviews, we spoke with two members of FemTechNet. The first member of FemTechNet we spoke to was member was Alex Algoro, who works with the Situated Critical Race and Media Committee (SCR+M). The next member we spoke to was Cricket Keating, who teaches a class at the UW Seattle campus about FemTechNet. Before interviewing them, we got together and created an interview script with questions we intended to ask them. During the interviews, we made sure to take notes as well as record the interviewees. I volunteered to interview both Cricket and Alex, while my group members recorded audio and took notes.
My group discussed some of the most important functionalities of the app with our users and stakeholders, and decided on two main functionalities. The first is connecting with the FemTechNet community and providing a social space. The second main functionality of the app is allowing members to post and view available jobs. These jobs will be pulled from sites like LinkedIn and will highlight women-friendly companies. They will also be posted internally by FemTechNet members. This functionality is meant to help support women in tech, and help more women break into the male-dominated field.
All five personas were all based off of ethnographic research my group conducted, as well as our interviews we had with FemTechNet stakeholders. Some persona qualities had to be based off of external research, but all was related to what our stakeholders had to say. When creating the personas, my group made sure to make considerations around communication platforms, as our app will largely be used for communication among FemTechNet members and women in the professional technology industry.
After we identified our potential personas and discussed their needs further, I chose to create the persona for the FemTechNet student. This persona was of interest to me because I am a student myself, and I identify with the goals and frustrations of this potential user. This persona includes goals and frustrations as well as behavioral patterns, a biography, and information about the struggles she faces, namely anxiety. This addition was chosen because many students suffer from anxiety, and my group thought it would be an important consideration that could affect how some users of the app choose to communicate.
Before creating our paper prototype, we began listing primary data elements, or elements that portray information like photos, text posts, and contact names. After this we listed functional elements, or elements that the user interacts with and provide function, like external links, buttons, or text input fields. Once we had both of these lists of elements established we arranged them in visual hierarchy. By doing this, we created a clear understanding of what we would need in our prototype.
Once we had our elements and hierarchy laid out, we began a rough sketch of our various screens. These screens were created with the functionality we had previously discussed in mind. We discussed user acquisition of the app, API integration, and how chat groups would be monitored. We also discussed how best to show the information to the user and what user flows would be most natural. Through this rough rendering, we came up with this:
Next we began creating a paper prototype of our application. This prototype took our information flow and rough screens to a more detailed and interactive level. We fine tuned the design we were currently working on, and added in color coding for buttons, input areas, and links.
Our initial wireframes for the Unify application were created in Sketch. We based our wireframes off of the screens we defined the previous week during our paper prototype, and ended up adding a few more in to flush out the application. The wireframes ended up including a total of 15 screens, including login/signup pages, a home page, profile pages, chat groups, messaging pages, contacts, job listings, and more. Each page was created adhering to iOS design standards, and to global navigation systems we had previously agreed upon as a group. These wireframes do not include visual design or content, as these steps will come after we have further enhanced the UX design of Unify.
We met back up with our stakeholder contacts at FemTechNet, and listened to their feedback based on our interactive prototype. We spoke again to Cricket, the professor at UW who teaches a class on FemTechNet, who told us the application was looking great, and that she saw a lot of potential going forward. Cricket particularly liked the jobs category, but suggested we change the “women in tech” channel to “gender, race, and tech”. She also had the idea of an activism tab, which would help users get involved with local issues that relate to gender, race, and tech.
After receiving stakeholder feedback, as well as potential end-user feedback, my group decided to pivot on our main idea before going forward. We still plan to keep FemTechNet as a primary stakeholder, however we are now gearing our application more towards job postings and social aspects as opposed to member group chats for the organization. This decision was made due to the primary users' interest in finding jobs at women-friendly companies, as well as their interest to network in a smaller application setting.
Our visual designs were created based on user feedback, in-class testing, and iOS design standards. We chose our primary color, turquoise, due to the fact that it was relatively gender-neutral, and it symbolizes tranquility and focus within color theory. Our visuals were primarily created by myself and one other group member, and we ended up merging our preliminary designs to create the application we have today.
After multiple iterations of our project based on stakeholder feedback, user research, and user testing, we have now designed and begun to develop our final product for the Unify Application. This application fully integrates all of the functionality and design requirements we identified at the beginning of the project, and now provides a seamless user experience to the target audience. This application, were it to be implemented, would help improve the job searching process for women in tech, and would encourage companies to become women-friendly.
Overall, Unify turned out as a successful application prototype. My group collaborated well together from start to finish, and I feel we have gone above and beyond when it comes to design thinking, product iteration, and stakeholder research. Unify began as a simple idea - to help connect women in tech while breaking down barriers of race and gender. By partnering with FemTechNet, we were able to gain much more perspective on the subject than we would have otherwise. By creating a dialogue on the subject with our application, my group hopes that we can begin to address the complicated challenges of this topic.