We presented a brief seminar on UX heuristics, then invited our attendees to put their UX skills to the test helping local non-profits improve their websites.
A quick aside about Shame On UX, in case you’re not familiar: it’s a Philadelphia Meetup group that hosts group exercises and events to get people thinking from a design and UX perspective. Back in early February, we hosted a “GameOnUX” night at our office where attendees played a series of games to test their UX skills and win some cool prizes.
This year’s Philly Tech Week event was a rework of our Healthcare Prototype-A-Thon, which we held last year—several teams competed to design and pitch a healthcare product prototype to a panel of regional healthcare experts. It was a huge success, but unfortunately was difficult to transition into a virtual event—so we went back to the drawing board.
The end result was Critique for a Cause, a unique combination of educational webinar and hands-on workshop. We invited attendees from everywhere and anywhere to come learn a bit about UX heuristics and how the Arcweb team makes use of them in our own software design work, then invited them to work with one of three local non-profits to apply the same principals to those organizations’ websites.
We met with the organizations ahead of time about how UX design improvements might be helpful for them, and the feedback we got identified that the highest priority for the organizations was getting a better handle on general UX and establishing front-and-center CTAs. This makes perfect sense, since a better user flow and overall UX might lead to effects like an increase in volunteer signups, donations, membership, or other web-based activities.
The nonprofits who participated were:
Black Phoenix Ink is a nonprofit that recognized that many American black children grow up disconnected from their cultural heritage, which is essential for developing a sense of self-respect and self-love. Their mission is to expose black youth to short stories that communicate and explore the richness of African descent. Part of their UX challenge was getting more writers to submit short stories to their website for them to publish and distribute to black children.
Squash Smarts is an organization that supports Philadelphia’s public school students by hosting a free intensive out-of-school time program. The academic and athletic mentoring program helps to keep kids in school, in shape, and on track to graduate. Squash Smarts was looking to upgrade their website and encourage more donating and more volunteering.
Back on my Feet (BoMF) is a nonprofit focused on targeting homelessness in the U.S. The program uses various employment and housing services, community support, and the power of running to help people get back on their feet! The organization highlighted three major audiences they wanted to better adhere to on their site: volunteers, employees, and members of BoMF.
After the Arcweb / Shame On UX team—including Nicole Arasim, Angela Agosto, Mike Balcerzak, and Casey Kallen—laid out Jakob Nielsen’s 10 Usability Heuristics for user interface design, attendees split up into teams and explored their respective nonprofit’s websites. The teams worked together to gather a compact list of UX improvements each digital experience might benefit from. At the event’s end, all participants reconvened to discuss what they had found and each nonprofit went home with a valuable list of design recommendations.
The event was a great success, and we’d like to thank everyone involved who helped make Critique for a Cause happen. We’re grateful to have had the chance to bring together local non-profits and a group of passionate and thoughtful attendees who were ready to dedicate their time to a good cause.