Creating a space to plan events for organizers
I love attending networking events because I get to meet people, learn something new and get inspired by those in the field. I especially love volunteering for those events because I get to be a part of these events that people enjoy for the same reasons that I do.
But after attending multiple events a week and being in non-profit for 10+ years, I noticed a trend. Organizers of events are not only putting an event together, they are the MC, the party planner, the DJ, the chef, and much more. With that in mind, event organizers don't have time to do everything themselves and almost always need the help of their peers and fellow volunteers to keep the show running.
"I SIGNED UP FOR THE SAME ROLE AS LAST YEAR BECAUSE I LOVE INTERACTING WITH PEOPLE. BUT THE POSITION IS FILLED BY SOMEONE ELSE EVEN THOUGH I SIGNED UP WITH THE ORGANIZER."
Michelle, Dedicated Lava Mae Volunteer
Volunteers have a specific passion and reason why they volunteer for an event. Michelle ended up standing around the rest of the event because she signed up for a role that will give her direct interaction with the homeless. Instead, she stood around and waited for the next role available from the overwhelmed organizers.
This inspired me to build a platform to make life easier for organizers before and leading up to an event.
I interviewed users, did user research and also created the paper prototypes and wireframes for this e-commerce platform.
I partnered with another UX designer and shared ideas until we broke off— I worked on the e-commerce page while she worked on the app.
STRATEGY & UNDERSTANDING
I targeted current users and asked questions based on their current pain points that led to ideation and our design decision.
VISUAL DESIGN & IMPLEMENTATION
I created paper prototypes and tested them early on. With Sketch and Invision, I was able to share design ideas and iterate between user testing.
TARGETING THE RIGHT VOLUNTEERS
Events can be unpredictable and event organizers plan for an anticipated number of attendees and volunteers rather than planning for the exact number.
That's also because event organizers want quality volunteers rather than quantity. On top of that, it's important to find more volunteers because of a 30% drop-off rate.
"VOLUNTEERS VOLUNTEER TO MAKE AN IMPACT. IF THERE'S TOO MANY VOLUNTEERS WITH LESS TO DO, THEY MAY NOT FEEL NEEDED."
Denise, Teen Director at YMCA
From the volunteers perspective, they want to be able to make use of their time and feel like they're needed. A lot of times when organizers create events and ask for help, too many or too little people might show up. Eventually volunteers are unhappy doing things that are unrelated to the event.
Even the best volunteers can be turned off due to last minute requirements from an organization.
"I WANTED TO VOLUNTEER TO GIVE BACK. I WAS OKAY WITH THE HOURS OF TRAINING TO BE ELIGIBLE TO VOLUNTEER, BUT I DON'T SEE WHY I NEED TO DO IT AGAIN A YEAR LATER."
Celly, Cat lover and SPCA volunteer of 2 years
Events can have requirements or paperwork that needs to be completed prior but is not communicated early enough for volunteers to fill out or acknowledge before showing up. I believe that organizers need volunteers and vise versa and the experience should be equally as pleasant for everyone.
This is how we came up with the hypotheses: When event organizers are disorganized, the event is disorganized. Organizers are too busy and flustered to manage the lack or overflow of volunteers causing too many people to feel useless or overworked.
BREAKING IT DOWN
I teamed up with a friend of mine for a 1-week sprint inspired by the book, Sprint How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days.
We first began with understanding the problem, exploring solutions, picking a solution direction, building a prototype, and lastly, testing our solution.
"STUDENTS JUST WANT YOU TO LISTEN TO THEM,
BE HONEST, AND SHOW THEM THAT YOU CARE."
Ms. Amico, K-6 teacher for 33 years
UNDERSTANDING THE PROBLEM
Organizers need volunteers and volunteers want to help. But somehow the process of connecting the two together can be agonizing.
In order to get a better understanding of why this is, I decided to reach out to non-profits and other volunteer organizations in the community.
INTERVIEWING EVENT ORGANIZERS
I guerrilla interviewed event organizers and volunteers in order to get a better understanding of the help needed depending on the event. With this information I can synthesize and understand their pain points and create a hypothesis of how I plan to solve their needs.
Some key findings that I discovered were:
- Organizers don't have time to look for volunteers
- They depend on returning volunteers and ask for them to advertise to their friends
- Volunteers don't necessarily have a preference on where they are placed but they want to be useful and develop a connection through the event.
- Most volunteers attend an event and expect to be given a task.
After the interviews, I decided to design a website for event organizers to create events and make volunteer positions so that volunteers can sign up directly. This will allow volunteers to choose their roles, read volunteer requirements and sign required documents before showing up for the event.
"AS AN ORGANIZER, I'D BE HAPPY TO GET VOLUNTEERS FOR ANYTHING, REGARDLESS. BUT I END UP PICKING UP THE SLACK MOST OF THE TIME."
Fong, San Francisco Education Fund
PUTTING PAPER TO THE TEST
I put together a web paper prototype in order to test
(TYPE WHAT I DISCOVERED HERE)
After 10 qualitative interviews with teachers, the results came out to be a lot different than what the initial hypothesis was.
- Most teachers have students that are behind in their reading levels
- F&P has only become popular in the recent years and is taking a toll on teachers to adjust to
- Teachers don't meet with students 1:1 because it's faster to talk to a group of students with the same needs
- Teachers prefer the flexibility and convenience of using tangible items
- This leads to carrying binders, folders and mountains of paperwork that eventually accumulates, get lost, and need to be manually inputted
"CLASSES WERE ONLY 60 MINUTES LONG AND I WOULD HAVE ABOUT 15 MINUTES TO HAVE 1:1 TIME WITH STUDENTS. SO I WOULD GROUP 5-7 STUDENTS TOGETHER BY SKILL AND TALK TO THEM ALL AT ONCE."
Ms. Catchings, 7th-9th grade literacy teacher
Literator is having difficulty retaining and growing their user base, even though they provide an essential service. Since teachers have been having trouble with keeping notes together and getting through to every student, we added a note feature, a timer and also sorting options.
THE KEY FEATURE
We added a personalized homepage because teachers teach multiple subjects/classes and may have different rosters. This will allow teachers to switch between classes and be sure of which class they are preparing to confer with. Also, the motivation sun was a good way to remind teachers of their weekly goals and entice them to return to the app and complete their goals.
Adding the sort by feature allows teachers the flexibility to group their students based on their needs. This will help teachers to determine which students to meet with and in which particular order to lessen the time during the planning process.
I learned that website or mobile are not important - they are only a base to help people get their information. But what's most important is what people have most access to and how they plan to spread that information. That is why we started out with an app, tested and felt like website was more appropriate, but kept mobile as an option for power users.
Most importantly, I learned that every sprint does not require a drastic redesign. I felt like we were on top of the world when we got the project. I wanted to change the flow, colors and outlook but stopped when I asked myself "what do teachers need?"
I would like to incorporate more of a gaming aspect to the website/app. Where someone ....