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Out&Safe

MY ROLE

UX Designer leading the Out&Safe Website and App design.

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RESPONSIBILITIES

Conducting interviews, paper and digital wire framing, low and hi-fidelity prototyping, conducting usability studies, accounting for accessibility, iterating on designs and responsive designs.

Project overview

THE PRODUCT

Out&Safe is a mobile app and responsive website designed to help the LGBTQ+ community find safe and welcoming places. Developed as part of the "Design a UX for Social Good" project for the Google Certificate Program, the project aimed to create an accessible and inclusive platform for marginalized communities.

PROJECT DURATION

February, 2023 to March, 2023

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THE PROBLEM

The Human Rights Campaign reported that 44% of LGBTQ+ individuals experienced some form of discrimination in 2020, highlighting the need for solutions like Out&Safe, a platform that provides a safe space for people to report incidents of violence and connect with a supportive community.

THE GOAL

Promote inclusivity, reduce fear, and encourage individuals to speak out against violence targeting the LGBTQ+ community.

User research

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SUMMARY

During the research phase for Out&Safe, I conducted several interviews with members of the LGBTQ+ community to better understand the challenges they face regarding safety and to identify the features and resources that would be most helpful in an app or website. These interviews provided valuable insights and informed the design and development of the platform.

Pain points

Fear of retaliation

LGBTQ+ individuals may fear retaliation from their perpetrators or community members if they report incidents of violence.

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Lack of Awareness

Many LGBTQ+ individuals may not be aware of their legal rights or the resources available to them in the event of violence.

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Limited Support Networks

LGBTQ+ individuals who experience violence may feel isolated and alone, with limited support networks.

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Personas

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I created two user journey maps for Deniz and Robert, who represent different user personas, to better understand their experience while using the Out&Safe platform. The goal was to identify potential pain points and areas for improvement. Through their journeys, I gained insights into the challenges they faced, their needs, and their expectations. These maps helped me gain a deeper understanding of the user experience and allowed me to make informed decisions in improving the Out&Safe platform.

User journey map

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Sitemap

I created a simple sitemap to better understand its structure and content. After examining it, I realized that there were some improvements that could be made to enhance the user experience.   

Firstly, I added an “Other” option to the “Legal support” page to allow users to report incidents that might not fit into the pre-defined categories.

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Additionally, I included a “Report incident” button in the main menu, making it easier for users to access the reporting feature.

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Lastly, I created an “About us” landing page to provide users with more information about our platform and its mission. 

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Competitive audit

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It was particularly challenging to conduct a competitive audit for the Out&Safe project as there aren’t many similar initiatives available. However, I managed to identify four potential competitors: 

NYLAG (New York Legal Assistance Group)

A non-profit organization providing free legal services to low-income individuals and marginalized communities.

EACH

An educational institution that provides courses, training, and consulting services for healthcare professionals, with a focus on LGBTQ+ health. 

The Task Force

An educational institution that provides courses, training, and consulting services for healthcare professionals, with a focus on LGBTQ+ health. 

Stonewall Foundation

A US-based non-profit organization that supports LGBTQ+ organizations and funds research to promote social change.

Ideation

I conducted a quick ideation exercise and sketched out some rough ideas. My primary focus was on raising awareness and promoting safety. I brainstormed various features and functionality that could help achieve these goals. While these ideas are still in the preliminary stages, they provide a starting point for further exploration.

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Paper wireframes

I conducted a quick ideation exercise and sketched out some rough ideas. My primary focus was on raising awareness and promoting safety. I brainstormed various features and functionality that could help achieve these goals. While these ideas are still in the preliminary stages, they provide a starting point for further exploration.

After sketching paper wireframes with the pain points in mind, I decided to focus on three main contents for the homepage:

A graph showing the evolution of incidents to make the increase in crimes against LGBTQs visible.
By displaying this information prominently, we hope to educate users on the gravity of the situation and encourage them to take action by reporting incidents or seeking legal support.

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The “Safe places” section, which suggests safe locations.
By providing a list of suggested safe places, the platform can help users feel more secure and supported. Additionally, this section can serve as a resource for those who are new to a city or area and are not familiar with LGBTQ-friendly establishments.
Overall, the “Safe places” section aims to address the pain point of feeling unsafe in public spaces.

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“Articles” section, which provides relevant information and knowledge.
It is a way to provide valuable content to users while also keeping them engaged with the platform.

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For the larger screens like tablets and computers, I decided to include testimonials in the “Report incident” section to showcase real cases of discrimination. By having these personal accounts, users can see the impact of LGBTQ+ discrimination.
The testimonials also help to create a sense of community and support among users.

Phone

Tablet

Computer

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Digital wireframes

I created and then improved the digital wireframes with a focus on enhancing the sense of security for the users. To ensure transparency, I added explanatory text about the reliability of the sources used. Furthermore, I decided to include an “Other” button in the “Legal Support” section to provide more options for users seeking assistance. These improvements were aimed at making the platform more user-friendly and reliable for the LGBTQ+ community.

Low-fidelity prototype

It was a rough draft of the platform’s user interface, intended to provide a basic representation of the key features and functionalities. The prototype was an essential step in the design process as it provided a tangible representation of the platform that could be tested and refined before moving on.

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Usability study

Parameters

Study type

Unmoderated usability study

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Participants

5 participants

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Location

USA, remote

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Length

20-40 minutes

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Findings

3 main findings uncovered by the usability study:

Safety concerns

Participants in the usability study expressed concerns about safety, particularly when reporting an incident.

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Credibility concerns

Participants expressed concerns about the credibility of the locations listed in the “Safe places” section.

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Font size

Participants reported that some font sizes were too small and hard to read

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Mockups

When refining the designs, I took into consideration the insights gathered from the usability study, such as the participants’ concerns about safety when reporting an incident, which led me to create a button that allows users to make their report anonymously.

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In the design refinements, I also took into account users’ concerns about the credibility of the suggested places in “Safe places” and added a text right above the search items to address that. This addition aims to give users more confidence in the suggestions provided.

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High-fidelity prototype

For the high-fidelity prototype, I kept the same flow as the low-fidelity one, but added more detail to the design and included a few subtle animations to aid in navigation. The goal was to create a more polished and visually appealing version of the app while still prioritizing the user’s sense of safety and ease of use.

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Responsive designs

Once the app designs were completed, I began working on the responsive website design. I used the Out&Safe sitemap as a guide to establish the organizational structure for each screen’s design, ensuring a cohesive and consistent experience across all devices.

In order to create a more engaging user experience, I designed a scrolling landing page that welcomes users and introduces them to the features and benefits of the Out&Safe platform. Through careful attention to detail and a focus on user needs, I was able to create a website that provides a seamless transition from the app, while also standing on its own as a valuable resource for the LGBTQ+ community.

Accessibility

Accessibility is a fundamental aspect of any design, and Out&Safe is no exception. As part of the design process, I made sure to consider the needs of all potential users, including those with disabilities. Some of the accessibility features included in the design are high contrast color options, alt text for images, and the ability to navigate the app using only a keyboard. These features are crucial for ensuring that all users can access and use the app with ease, regardless of any disabilities they may have.

Next steps

Research

Conduct research to evaluate the success of Out&Safe in achieving its goals. This may involve analyzing user engagement and feedback, as well as gathering data on the number and types of incidents reported through the app.

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Monitoring

Continuously monitor and update the app to ensure it remains up-to-date and effective in addressing the needs of its users. This may involve incorporating new features or functionality based on user feedback, as well as addressing any technical issues that arise.

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Partnerships

Develop partnerships with organizations and groups that share Out&Safe’s mission and goals. This may involve collaborating with local community groups or advocacy organizations to increase awareness of the app and encourage more people to use it.

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Takeaways

Impact

Users have been providing positive feedback about Out&Safe, praising its user-friendly interface, helpful features, and potential to make a significant impact in improving safety and accessibility for marginalized communities. One user commented, “This app has the potential to be a game-changer for so many people who face discrimination and danger in their everyday lives. Thank you for creating something that could make a real difference.”

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What I learned

Through working on the Out&Safe project, I learned the importance of prioritizing user experience and incorporating feedback from user research. I also realized that creating a platform to help marginalized communities requires a deep understanding of the issues they face and a commitment to continuously learning and improving. The process highlighted the need for resources and support beyond just a technological solution, and made me more aware of the systemic challenges that these communities face.

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