November - December 2016 (3 Weeks)
Brainstorming & Sketching
Iterations & Prototyping
Pecha Kucha Presentation
Our team was challenged with the CHI 2017 Student Design Brief of Leveling the Playing Field. The challenge in this brief was to address and design for a population that often is excluded or forgotten, the unexotic underclass. Within this vast population, our team decided to narrow our focus to transitioning veterans.
"How could we transform the way veterans, service members, and their families navigate and coordinate the maze of services and resources that they have earned, and unlock a better, more efficient and person-centered approach for service providers to deliver?"
– Jim McDonough, Institute for Veteran and Military Families
Our concept is a desktop application which allows non-profit organization employees to assist transitioning veterans find experienced mentors. The goal is to help active duty soldiers’ transition back into society in a supportive way.
Research & Insights
We conducted interviews with personnel at non-profit organizations, such as the Charlotte Bridge Home in North Carolina and America Serves, social workers and the Veteran Affairs office who all interact with veterans. Many of these interviews were done in-person or over the phone.
In these interviews we learned how veterans interact with social workers, specific linear process non-profits record during the in-take process, and benefits most requested by veterans.
During our interviews we began to notice some major insights:
- After being released from military service, veterans no longer have the structural support to help them accomplish daily tasks
- The current focus for most non-profits is on veteran needs and not looking at the “whole person”
- Veterans feel isolated and alone upon returning and have trouble integrating back into society
- Navigating the web of benefits can be difficult and overwhelming
A theme of connection began to form, narrowing our focus. We began to generate ideas about how we could help transitioning veterans create a supportive connection during this unstable time in their lives. With the idea of establishing supportive connections, we turned to social workers at non-profits as they were the main resource for veterans.
Iteration & Prototyping
As a team, we began sketching various ideas about how a non-profit organization could implement a service to pair transitioning veterans with mentors. We began sketching with paper/pencil and whiteboards and then moved onto paper prototypes.
The desktop displays information that a social worker would need to make a strong connection between a veteran and a mentor. The left side displays the transitioning veteran or protégé, which includes a brief bio and any case notes provided by the social worker. On the right side is the potential mentor, which also includes a brief bio. The center section consists of the needs transitioning veterans are requesting assistance with and skills which potential mentors can offer help. Next to the potential mentor, on the right, is the overall match percentage rating between the transitioning veteran and the potential mentor.
We referred to the labels as “tags”. Each of these tags belong to a subcategory of the top three needs that a veteran has requested help from during their meetings with a social worker.
Please check out our working paper prototype here.
Based off our feedback from user tests, we were able to deduce that users were confused about the meaning and placement of the tags and exactly how the match percentage was calculated.
Taking users feedback into consideration, tags were weighted by size to emphasize the hierarchal importance. Along with weighting each tag, headings were placed at the top of each column to help users differentiate between transitioning veterans and potential mentor’s information. A star rating was also given to each mentor based off previous evaluation and connections with each mentor. The purpose for this rating system was to allow the social worker to review mentors feedback and pair connection appropriately without relying strictly on the match percentage.
Please check out our working paper prototype here
...how maintaining an open communication between team members is crucial in the well-being of the design. Having an open dialogue allowed our team to work incredibly well with each other and create an environment conducive for creativity.