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Dignity Web App

Duration

9 weeks, June-August 2023

Role

Project Manager, Research

Technology

Figma, ReactJS, Google Maps API, Netlify

Team

Elisabeth - Product Designer

Calvin & Steven - Developer

The Problem

For this group project, we were tasked with ideating and building a web solution for a problem aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. We chose to tackle Seattle’s increasing homeless population problem since it aligns with SDG #1, No Poverty and SDG #2, No Hunger, but mostly because we ourselves witness homelessness firsthand in our everyday lives living in Seattle.

Seattle’s growing homeless population has been a topic of concern for a long time, and in recent years, the population has grown by thousands. As of 2022, Washington is the fourth highest state in the U.S with the largest homeless population - a ranking that demands addressing. However, we faced a large hurdle from the start:

We knew we couldn't solve homelessness with a web app.

Existing Solutions

To help us find direction, we researched existing policies for addressing homelessness on Seattle's government website. This procedure itself led us to consider how people experiencing homelessness have unstable access to internet, leading us to consider a different target audience for our solution: volunteers.

 

While researching existing volunteer web solutions, we came across VolunteerMatch - an online platform that connects users with nonprofit volunteer opportunities with search, filter, and sign-up functions. VolunteerMatch gave us inspiration for connecting volunteers to opportunities to help Seattle's homeless population.

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VolunteerMatch gave us inspiration for the type of solution we wanted to create

What Existing Solutions Lack

The City of Seattle website does not provide concrete solutions for helping the homeless population, nor do they provide resources on how people can help. While the framework they provide are good ideas to work towards, they remain as ideas. The effects of these policies are not visible and call to actions are non-existent.

Additionally, while there were many opportunities listed for users to see on VolunteerMatch, there was an abundance of text and a lack of visual representation of these volunteer opportunities.

How might we break down barriers to volunteering, to increase support for the increasing homeless population?

An interactive map would allow users to see where volunteer opportunities are located and choose which location is most convenient for them.

Task

As project manager, I was tasked with representing my team's ideas and progress during stakeholder meetings as well as utilizing Github Issues and Milestones to keep track of deadlines as well as who was assigned each task. 

 

I also took care of testing the final product, revising the CSS styles, and cleaning up documentation.

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Results

We were able to successfully deploy to Netlify and get the main functions of our web application to work. During our Bug Bash, we received positive feedback for our solution's design and intended function. However, we also discovered a few major bugs that our developers were unable to resolve due to time constraints.

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In future iterations, we would like to fix the major bugs we found, as well as make the user experience more seamless by implementing a feature that allows the user to sign up for volunteer opportunities. 

Takeaways

As this was my first time taking a Project Manager role, I learned many lessons from this project experience:

​1. Frequently check in with team

Since I trusted my developers' skills, I did not check in on them as frequently. I should have offered more support to them because development proved to be more tricky than we initially thought.

2. Put more consideration into creating timelines

I overestimated the scope of the tasks, resulting in a tight timeline which rushed the development process. Next time, I will do more research into development details before setting deadlines. 

3. Experience experience experience!

This was the first project experience I worked on from ideation to deployment. It was a fulfilling experience, but I also learned management skills that I will take to my next project group.

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