building stronger communities by "paying it foward"

SWAP — Product Design Sprint

let's swap!
The Women in Informatics Group hosted a two day hackathon at the beginning of spring with the theme "hacking forward together". This broad theme and challenge area pushed groups to think about how we can better our local and global communities with technology.
Our group focused on immediate neighborhoods. Our solution  supports neighbors in building stronger communities, by helping them help each other.
the meetings & greetings
Women in Informatics 2021 Hackathon
Theme — "Hacking Forward Together"
Spring 2020 — 42 Hours
Ashten Alexander — Visual Communication Design
Joyce Lin — Interaction Design
Elyssa Yim — Visual Communication Design
Figma & Protopie
Mentorship from Francis Tung (UX Designer @ Deloitte)
How do we make it easier for individuals to find help and resources within their communities?
research from our community
The first night of the challenge we focused on getting to know our problem space.  We did a competitive analysis of apps and institutions that already exist, sent out a nationwide survey, and had four one-on-one interviews with individuals in our community. From that we formed these five insights that lead our design decisions:
1. There are factors that prevent people from helping their neighbors: Users don’t know their neighbors well, fear and lack of trust of strangers.

2. People are willing to help those they feel they have (at least some) relationship/connection to.

3. People are more likely to help someone if they will be helped back in some way also (mutual exchange, return in long term-value).

4. Cities have different dynamic/social relationships and approach to neighborhood communites than the suburbs.

5. Majority of people want to help and involve themselves in communities, but don’t know where to start/have the resources.
From here we thought out our app and immediately built out hi-fidelity screens. We iterated these screens and task flows three times, after each meeting with out mentor. This is what we came up with!
coin swapping?
Our app relies on and encourages the idea of paying it forward. We simulate this action in the app with the idea of “coin swapping”.
Every time a user completes someones task request the two users will swap coins–in the case of larger community events the coins will shuffle.These coins will track how far many requests have been completed and how many people have been helped.
The onboarding process is meant to create a secure, reliable, and safe community. People signing up connect to their location and have the option to link their contacts to find neighbors near them.
People joining can add their personal skills that might be useful to others in their community. After this, users can customize their personal coin, which is an essential part of our pay-it-forward experience. Then, a few security tips are provided to help people stay safe in the online community.
The homepage provides users with differing opportunities to engage with their community. This can be community projects, quick favors, and recurring projects. These opportunities are curated for the user to reflect their skills and abilities that they provided during the onboarding process.
completing requests
After a user decides to accept a request for help, some security tips are provided again to make sure people stay safe when they meet up with people they may not know in person.
After a user has completed a request for someone, they can mark that request as completed. Then users are given the opportunity to provide feedback to improve the app’s safety, but they can easily opt out of this function.
coin swap!
Once a task is completed and verified on both ends, the user is able to swap their token with the host of the request, and take it with them on the rest of their journey!
tracking your help
Users can access their own profile by clicking the profile icon. Here, they can see their own history and previous coin exchanges. By clicking on the coin icon, they are also able to see how far their coin has traveled, visualizing their impact on their community and many others. 
Here users can also see their badges. Badges are introduced to game-ify the experience and also as a way to incentivize people to come back!
We're mobilizing and encouraging people to get involved with their local neighborhoods thus building an overall stronger community.
what's next? user testing.
We will take this into our own neighborhoods and learn and adapt to how people will be interacting with this app. We'd also like to implement additional features that we didn't have a chance to explore during the hackathon, such as an explore page and neighborhood page.
what about monetization?
It was brought up to think about how swap would continue in a market saturated with subscription services and ad revenue. It was originally thought to work in an altruist society, but the truth is we are far from that. We’ll think forward to how and if money should play a role in swap.
swap swap swap
Thanks to my teammates for tagging me in so last minute and being patient with me since this was my first creative jam / hackathon / design sprint. It was an awesome experience that I am slowly recovering from and gettting ready to go again haha! Thank you to all the mentors, especially our main mentor Francis,  who guided us along those hectic 42 hours and believed in our concept til the end. Let's be honest y'all,  we placed much better than we did haha!

let's swap?

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