CASE STUDY: FOSTER CONNEX UX Design

I'll be honest. UX and UI are new areas for me. I took a five-week Fundamentals of UX class at the School of Visual Concepts and know that I just touched the tip of the iceberg. There's so much more to learn. But one of my biggest take-aways was that projects I've worked on throughout my career are made up of some of the same bones, called by different names:

  • Stakeholder interviews, surveys, pain point discovery,
    focus groups, customer research, market research, persona
    creation >> UX Research
  • Analysis, brainstorming, strategy >> Ideation
  • Comps, visual design >> Protoyping, implementation
  • Validation, quality assurance >> Usability Testing

The project I'm highlighted here was done in a small group during class, but hopefully gives you an idea of my design thinking. As a small group, we tackled a social issue that we felt strongly about.

The Problem

Youth in foster care are often disconnected from support systems when they need them most—as they exit the system. Each year, on average, over 23,000 children "age out" of foster care at eighteen with no resources and often very little practical skills. More than 25% of former foster children become homeless within two to four years of leaving the system.

The strategy was to build a (fake) app that could strengthen "adulting" skills (personal finance, accessing health care, continued educational opportunities, housing and transitional living arrangements, etc.) using interactive content that could both provide immediate information or services, as well as put them in touch with others who could provide help. 

Our idea was to create a national online educational resource that would connect youth with resources and knowledge on an as-needed basis and provide emergency services (such as where will I sleep tonight?). 

Research

Competitive research revealed that apps for foster care youth were limited in scope and often tied in with local nonprofits with limited reach. Most emphasized delivering information and care-strategies to social workers and foster parents in the form of pamphlets delivered physically or as digital PDFs. Very few put the information directly into the hands of the youth.

We created an online google survey that was answered by 46 "newly minted" adults to find out where the gaps in knowledge were. From this, we created educational modules that fit the profile of our end user. 

prototyping & design

I was tasked with creating our group's storyboard to sell the idea to the rest of class. I cast a likely user in a story to show the benefit of this app. By imagining different teens in probable scenarios, we were able to tease out additional information that could prove useful to the end user. From the modules and research, I created the beginnings of a flowchart to help visualize the user's journey and how they would be connected to needed services. I created a paper prototype, as per instructions from our teacher.

We created a screener questionnaire to capture the right users for testing. Then the class ended!