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Project Open Hand

Project Open Hand is a food assistance non-profit that aims to improve the health & quality of life to seniors, chronically ill individuals, and people who are differently abled by providing nutritious meals.

The Challenge

Student Concept Project

Duration: 200+ hours

Team Size: 4 members

Project Roles: UX Designer, UX Researcher, Visual Designer

Provide solutions to increase sign-ups for one-time volunteer sessions. A simpler application process for clients requesting food assistance was also requested.

Getting to know who we're helping.

In order to get an understanding of what our team needed to develop, research focused both on the business & potential user. We used the following methods to gather insight:


Business analysis

We got in touch with Project Open Hand to find out their values.


Competitive analysis

I compared the Project Open Hand site with their competitors'.


User Surveys

A survey regarding volunteering was sent out & yielded 150+ responses.


User Interviews

Users were asked questions about past volunteering experience(s).


Contextual inquiries

I observed as users completed tasks I assigned on the current website.

Project Open Hand values people.

Interviewing Project Open Hand gave insight into the business' values and how the business works.

  • Business is driven by word-of-mouth interactions.

  • One-time volunteer sessions are of the utmost importance to Project Open Hand.

  • It's more difficult to fill front-of-house volunteer positions than it is to fill behind-the-scenes positions.

  • Clients are people who need love, that is, seniors & people who are differently abled.

Volunteer passing food to a client.
Picture provided by Project Open Hand

People want to volunteer, but on their terms.

After conducting research, our team moved to synthesizing data. We created an affinity map, a UX tool used to find trends in users' experiences. Below are the patterns we observed:

  • People value their time, and while they are eager to use it to help others, they want it used wisely & effectively.

  • Confusing organization on the current website makes it hard to sign-up for one-time volunteer sessions.

  • Potential volunteers derive satisfaction when the abilities they already have can be out to good use.

This is who we're designing for.

Our research finally has allowed us to create personas, approximations of who the actual Project Open Hand website users would be. We were able to create personas for volunteers & clients.

The Apprehensive Altruist

Motivated to help & give back to community with the condition their time is managed well & their security is respected.

The Overwhelmed Applicant

A chronically ill individual applying for food assistance. They're having a hard time sourcing food & eating nutritious meals.

Understanding the opportunities for growth.

With our personas figured out, we can easily figure out where problems may be arising for users.

"This volunteer opportunity sounds cool. I wish I knew exactly what I'd be doing & for how long. do I even apply?"

"Took forever to find this application. I have to take it to the doctor's office to be filled out?

There has to be an easier way to apply for food assistance."

The solution?

To restructure the organization of the website. By doing so, we can create a streamlined process for volunteer sign-ups as well as a more accessible process for potential clients.

To the drawing board.

As we began sketching concepts for the website, we were guided by the users' need for clarity & simplicity. We hoped a streamlined process would result in more people accomplishing their goals.

Balancing the user & business needs.

While users were considered in the conception of the redesign, we also had to design for business needs. It was necessary to make sure that volunteering received priority.

When conducting usability testing, a method where we have potential users attempt to complete tasks on the prototype, there were some issues:

  • Low contrast between text and the background colors hindered accessibility.

  • Copy and directional text was unclear in certain places of the redesigned site.

  •  Accessibility was effected by too many dropdown menus.

Back to the drawing board.

  • The Volunteer Form page wasn't clear on how to add a volunteer or change/abandon the sign-up. I made improving this page my responsibility.

The solution, actualized.

Once usability testing was completed, another pass was made at the website prototype. The feedback we received from testing guided how we made changes.

Below is a video of the "final" prototype:

How I would continue the process.

While we may have created a solution for the challenge we were given, this is not the end of the process. If this were more than just a student project, we would continue to test and iterate subsequent prototypes.

We aren't finished quite yet.

  • Create a volunteer portal that would allow for fast and easy registration.

  • In a volunteer profile, show increasing impact of continued volunteering.

  • Think analog - create merchandise as incentive for volunteering.

  • Create a responsive site or mobile site for Project Open Hand.

Looking back at what was learned.

Redesigning a website in two weeks is no easy task. Working together, though, my team and I were able to make it happen. Beyond learning how to work on a UX design team through effective task and time management, I learned more about the Figma software, visual design, and content strategy.

I want to thank my amazing team for being such a pleasure to work with.

And thank you for reading this case study.

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