A cure for homelessness

How can we help homeless individuals integrate back into society?

Project Scope:

Brief: Develop an app that eliminates the pressures associated with homelessness.

 

The proposal should support and educate users on relevant information that will allow a homeless person to successfully integrate into the community. 

TARGET AUDIENCE

"Hidden" Homeless Individuals who are:

  • Staying with family and friends

  • Have just left hospital

  • Have just left prison

  • Have just left social care

ROLE:

UX Designer, UI Designer, UX Researcher

METHOD:

The Double Diamond Method

PROJECT DURATION:

3 Weeks. 

1 week of research + 2 weeks of design

TOOLS:

Figma, Canva, Freehand

DELIVERABLES:

3 mobile apps pages

What is homelessness?

 "A state of being unhoused or unsheltered – is the condition of lacking stable, safe, and adequate housing." - Wikipedia

What is the problem? 

Homeless individuals need support to ensure successful local community integration. 

The Process:
The Double Diamond Method

DISCOVER

DEFINE

DEVELOP

DELIVER

What are all the needs of my user?

What is the problem?

How many options can I think of to solve this problem?

What is my final solution?

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DISCOVER

What are all the needs of my user?

Competitor Analysis

I began by researching mobile apps that support homeless people. 

Although I was met with difficulty as most apps were designed to support homeless rough sleepers.

 

I wanted to design an app targeted towards the "hidden homeless". These individuals usually had a place to stay and a place to eat, although werent able to find their own way in society. The hidden homeless individuals were an ignored group within homeless apps. 

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 I chose Homeless Resources and Streetlink as my direct competitors as their focus was supporting homeless individuals to find food, sheler and health resouces. While I chose Talk life as an indirect competitor due to its focus on community and wellbeing. 

Below is my competitor analysis chart, where I found the strengths, weakness and features of each app.

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** CLICK TO ENLARGE **

Findings

All of the apps were easy to navigate due to its simple and clear design.

 

All of the apps use a hamburger menu, which allows for a cleaner look as information is stored away. Within these menus you'd find profile information, FAQ's, setting options and internal app help such as the chatbot

The main features of all three apps were the multi resources ranging from food banks to shelters. I wanted my app to focus mainly on different resources needed. Although I think one feature missed by Human Resources and Street link was the importance of mental health. Ta'lk life incorprated a "diary" system in which people can log their thoughts and feelings.

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The colour schemes on STREETLINK where muted greens and greys. It allowed to user to focus on the information at hand. Although the app doesn't create a welcoming enviroment.

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While TALKLIFE and HOMELESS SHELTER APP RESOURCES themes was dark blues and purples which conveyed a warm, cozy and iniviting feel to the app. 

Streetlink was the weakest app as it had the least amount of information when comparing to Homelessness Shelter App and Talklife. Its interface looked dated, therefore it didnt have a inviting feel. This is reflected in its customer feedback as it has an overall 2.4 star rating out of 5 on APPLE STORE

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STREETLINK user review

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HOMELESS SHELTER APP user review

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DEFINE

What is the problem?

User Research

As homelessness is a sensitive topic, I used secondary data for my user research. My aim was to find the issue homeless people faced whilst trying to integrate back into society.  

One of the key reasons was poor health issues due to “tri-morbidity.” This suggest that most homeless people would experience issue with physical health, mental health and addiction. 

Physical Health

When comparing people who are homeless with the rest of the population, they " ... are over twice as likely to report a physical health issue then the general public“

Health Needs Audit, 2016  Homeless Link

Mental Health

Suicide rates are nine times higher in comparison with the general public.

Homelessness Kills, 2012 

Addiction

Two thirds of homeless people cite drug or alcohol use as a reason for first becoming homeless. Those who use drugs are seven times more likely to be homeless. 

 

 Crisis Skylight Final Report of the University of York evaluation

Aside from these issues, homeless individuals also have issues finding food, shelter and basic needs such as warm and dry clothing. 

As my target audience was the hidden homeless I wanted to create an app which focused on health and wellbeing. 

User Personas
Homeless Persona

This persona were crafted from the secondary data i collected. I used "Micah" to help me make better decisions throughout the ideation stage.

*CLICK TO ENLAGRGE*

*CLICK TO ENLAGRGE*

Mind-Mapping
Homeless App Mindmap

I decided to mind map with the help of the persona and results from user research. I use the mindmapping method as it mimics the way our brain strings information together. I was able to map out all the features i would put into the app such as inital signup questionnaire, mood tracking and a forum page.

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DEVELOP

How many options can I think of to solve this problem?

Ideation

Aim : Design an app targetted at the hidden homeless. This app will focus on the health and wellbeing of the individual.

Low fidelity 

I started my inital ideation on pen and paper. I sketched 4 unique designs for each page I was creating in 30 second intervals.

At this stage I was focused on exploring simplicty.  As my target audience are vulnerable people, I didnt want the app to cause any furthur stress or worry.

Settings

Events

Profile picture of user

Featured element box

Hamburger menu

Users name

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Personal features such as "my events"

Direct Message icon

Menu Bar

Digital Low Fidelity

I then decided to digitise my inital sketches.

At this stage im able to drag and drop elements of the design to bridge between my low and mid fidelity wireframes. 

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Home Pages 

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Chatroom Pages

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Event pages

Mid-fidelity

I chose my favourite elements of each design from the low fidelity stage then combined them to create a final outline.

At the this staged I played around with types, shape,colour and icons.

As stated before, my focus was to create a clean and tidy app for easy use.

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One major change was the profile picture. I initially gave the choice to import a photo, to use on the chatroom page.

 

 Although I removed this option. Users would only be able to change the background colour of their profile circle. 

 

This was to allow anonminty and comfort whilst posting about sensitive topics. 

I decided the "home page" would double up as an "account page" to empahsise that the users needs are whats most important.

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Click here for the full breakdown of the style system.

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DELIVER

What is my final solution?

+ the problems I solved

Brand Identity

 

The logo is a visual reminder of the brand identity.

"Helping the homeless with the next step in their lives.

Digitise world

 

ID and important documents can be put onto the app to eleveate the pressure of keeping files safe.

Illustrative icon

This was used to 

communicate the different areas of the homepage. Using photos was distracting due to the unnecessary ‘exact-ness’ of detail. While using icons did not offer the visual complexity needed to communicate the message.

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Mental Health

"Mood Tracker" puts emphasis on the users feelings,emotions and mood. A digital diary to elevate mental tension.

High Fidelity

The message notification links the users to  community aspect of the app.

Well-being

A chatroom forum where homeless individuals can seek help from one another. Homless people can often feel lonely so connecting with others can boost their sense of companionship.

Homepage

Serial position effect

 

The concept dictates that people usually remember items at the beginning or the end of a list or sequence with greater accuracy than those in the middle.

 

The homepage is first icon on the menu bar to promote the focus of the user. The last icon is the maps which directs the user to where they can get help locally.

Users can either view the events by list ( which is displayed) or map view . Depending on how the individual prefers information to be displayed.

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Laws of common region

Events are grouped together to show they target the same area of needs

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Events which are ending soon are larger to emphaise urgency.

Most homeless apps focus on food and shelter. This app focuses on wellbeing,health and social intergration. 

I also created a design guide to keep the style cohesive over all webpages and the app.

Aesthetic usability effect

 

I removed the "like"  features from the mid-fidelity. This was to elevate the pressure of posting content in hopes of being liked. page  busy from mid fidelity stage.

I removed the name of the users, opting for initals of their name instead.

Reflection

For this project, I wanted to create a homeless app aimed at the "hidden homeless". These are the individuals who may have a place to sleep and eat but not a place to call their own. My focus was on health, well-being and social intergration. 

I enjoyed working on this case study, as it allowed me to design for a demographic who are ignored by society.

I think my research stage went well as I had a large amount of secondary data. Although I would have liked to conduct face to face interviews to get first hand insight on how it feels to be homeless.

In terms of testing I would use unmoderated remote usability testing if I had the ability to launch this project. Individuals will anoonymously trial the app within the confinds of their own homes, which leads to the app being used naturally. It is important for me to understand what issues may arise before the launch.