The Impact Dashboard is a web app built for Connect Our Kids that displays key metrics that define how well social worker teams and individual social workers are connecting foster children to extended families and forever homes. Social workers are able to quickly see their progress and even share these metrics.
I worked alongside other UX designers over the course of eight weeks. I was responsible for project management, research, synthesis and presentation materials for our client.
About connect our kids
More than 400,000 children are in the American foster care system and Connect Our Kids provides much-needed support to social workers. Connect Our Kids is a non-profit organization that creates awesome free tools that help child welfare professionals and advocates find permanent loving homes for kids in foster care.
Understanding the Issues
Connect Our Kids needed a way to showcase the positive impact that their tools make for social workers
Social workers can get discouraged when helping children find forever homes - there is a challenge to give them a platform to celebrate their wins and keep track of their progress.
Donors should be confident that their money is having an impact through transparent reporting - allowing them to feel part of this amazing cause.
That’s where we came in. We needed to create a platform that could be used by all of our stakeholders to clearly showcase the impact of Connect our Kids.
Lastly, It’s personal - We may not be able to foster these children in our homes but we wanted to help them in our own way by providing social workers with the motivation they needed to keep building loving families!
Understanding the Need
Our client gave us some basic information to get us started. They gave us simple sketches of types of tools that they envisioned to support in accomplishing their goal along with providing background on the user personas. There were three main desired pages: an impactdashboard, a team dashboard, and a personal achievements board.
Understanding the User
To further understand the need, we conducted a survey with 12 social workers regarding the function of the Impact Dashboard, including, their current interactions with the site, how they envisioned to frame the achievements and their initial thoughts on the proposed pages. The survey provided us with invaluable feedback that we utilized throughout the design process to give context and set boundaries. An example of valuable feedback:
"foster kids" isn't a great term. Youth in foster care, youth in out of home care, youth in care would be a better way to phrase it!
For the rest of the project we made sure never to refer to our subjects as foster kids.
Creating the Flow
After gathering ample background data and completing our stakeholder interviews, we began to create the user flows for the web application. As we developed the user flow, we ensured to keep our stakeholders and developers actively engaged to ensure what we were creating captured their vision.
Understanding the Research
Once we understood the need, we conducted research on similar platforms that would give us ideas on how to effectively display metrics, as well as, creative ways to accomplish the reward system without creating unhealthy competition between social workers. This analysis inspired us to begin our sketches of possible structures for the web app.
Creating the Magic
Once we completed the sketches, we created low-fidelity designs to create wireframes and begin user testing. We surveyed users to understand how they would interact with the website based on our initial wireframes to ensure the flow was clear. We asked them critical questions on things they would like to add, change or remove. This feedback helped us to make critical modifications to the app.
At first the team developed the idea of badges to motivate the social workers every time they reach a certain number of connections and to give a clear visualization of their achievements. The badges were designed to increase in rank with colors, such as, Gold, Silver, Bronze, and Platinum, but then we got feedback from one of the social workers:
"I'm not sure "motivating" is the word, but it would be interesting- I would just hate for people to compare themselves and their work with others"
So we challenged ourselves on making the badges more fun and less competitive and took our ideas back to our stakeholders for voting.
The badges evolved substantially throughout the process and we ultimately landed on a simple icon style based on feedback from our users. Statistics displaying totals and next thresholds were added to the badge cards to make progress clear to the user. Share buttons were also added directly to the cards to make the process of sharing achievements clear and simple.
The Impact Dashboard
Some of our major improvements to the proposed system included:
Developing a visually appealing public dashboard that could be leveraged by donors
Separating the Team and Personal Impact Dashboards to simplify the pages
Creating an effective achievement system that balanced motivating the social workers while not creating unhealthy competition
Developing a clear process for sharing progress for the users
After our last round of usability testing, we felt confident that we developed an effective tool for the real champions, the social workers!
Reflecting on the Process
Getting Started Right: We developed this application using components to ensure that modifications throughout the process and in the future, could be made without substantial rework. Changes to main components could be made which updated the
Involving your Users: It is critical in any project to get your users involved from the beginning. We learned many things from our users based on their experiences that allowed us to create a tool that would truly motivate them.
Embracing Challenges: Challenges come with every project. We faced challenges on how to build a tool that served so many different types of users, but rather than getting frustrated, we worked with our stakeholders and developers closely to find “out-of-the-box” solutions to meet the needs of the many different stakeholders.