Homelessness has been an epidemic in the City of Ottawa for over a decade, with Ottawa City Council unanimously declaring homelessness an emergency in January of 2020. This fourth-year project explored how to apply technology to address this problem.
Duration: November 2022 - December 2022 (4 weeks)
Methods: Secondary and Market Research, Wireframing and Prototyping, User Flows, Information Architecture, Usability Testing
Type: School Project
Over 80% of the homeless population in Ottawa own a cellphone, yet they are struggling to find other basic necessities. There exists an opportunity to leverage the existing technology in order to provide a better experience accessing essential resources.
Research and Design Brief
Primary research was conducted online by pulling quotes from local people who had experienced homelessness or a severe low-income situation. These quotes were themed into different areas of distress.
'How might we?' questions were formed for each area.
The questions formed during research directed the Design Brief and design goals.
From observing these apps, the important features I wanted to include were a map view of resources, a way to personalize the app such as favorites and preferences, and require minimal data from the user.
Ideation and Initial Development
Initial ideation was done quickly on paper to create the first iteration of the app flow. The app was broken down into four main sections:
Home: Where the user could view all resources in a list view
Search: Allows users to search by location or filters, in a map or list view
Favorites: A tailored area of the users preferred resources
Profile: Minimal personalized information, such as name and region
Rough mockups were then further explored in Figma.
Peers were interviewed to vote on their preferred screen iterations, using a colored dot voting method.
I spoke with the Interim Director of the Alliance to End Homelessness Ottawa to get insight and feedback on the design mockups.
Our conversation resulted in a few new design goals for the final prototype.
New Design Goals
Refined User Flow
The user flow was refined based on stakeholder and peer feedback, including segmenting the app more clearly into categories such as Food, Shelter and Health, as well as providing additional details pages to help users find everything they needed in order to access resources in the first place.
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