actNOW

Digital Product Design – Case Study

As a response to the mishandling of sexual misconduct on college campuses, I led a team of like-minded individuals to design a platform which increases accessibility to find supportive resources and ease reporting for survivors.

Why is this matter important to me; especially as a male? I have always been passionate about helping people and empathetic of how I would feel if I was in their position. My journey in finding an avenue to intersect my passion, technology, and social change ignited the urgency to help others BE HEARD, through actNOW.

My Role

  • Visionary
  • Research 
  • User Flow & User Stories
  • Visual Design
  • Fundraiser  

Knowledge Gained

  • Lean Startup
  • Being Vulnerable
  • Product Management
  • Empathy and People Centered Design
  • People Management
  • Trust your Intuition

Timeline

  • Winter 2016 – Fall 2017

Project Process

Once an academic project to showcase the culmination of knowledge I gained while pursuing my Master’s in Technology Management. There were prominent people in my life – shoutout to Ciara & Lee 🤜🏼🤛🏼 – who jumpstarted my passion to be a change agent and innovator for survivors and students, through actNOW. 

We started the project by discovering our subject, and conducting user interviews with the target group. Following the discovery phase, we narrowed down our results and selected problems that we should focus on. After that, we started working on feature definitions, user journey flows and confirmed actNOW’s solution architecture, which in our case was a progressive web app. We wireframed the app structure, designed the visuals and gathered feedback from various target users.  The response was favorable and our network of product champions grew exponentially. Now our ultimate hurdle to run through was finding the resource(s) and time to build actNOW.

Discovery

Research Goals

  1. Define the current state of the “rape culture” on college campuses.

  2. Understand the psychological factors and trauma-based evidence.

  3. Define survivors’, students’, and administration’s needs and frustrations with awareness programs and reporting practices.

  4. Understand compliance and reporting standards nationally, regionally, and throughout the targeted communities.

  5. Identify how to bridge the gaps when connecting people with assets to seek justice, healthcare, and resources.

Primary Research: Market Research

First, I conducted research to familiarize myself with the campus climate on sexual assault and various perspectives around “consent.” By discovering the mandatory compliance standard – Title IX – led the understanding around institutions being required to prevent and resolve a hostile environment which includes sexual misconduct.  I collected information from articles and case studies on trends and challenges survivors face when seeking resources and closure. 

Primary Research: Interviews

Empathizing with the target audience is a crucial step in the design thinking process, so it was essential to go out and interact with survivors, students, community leaders, and campus administration in the DC and Boston areas.

What Survivors, Students, and Research tells us...

Secondary Research: Gap Analysis

To build off my primary research, I analyzed apps who were aiming to tackle specific issues surrounding sexual assault.  I uncovered their strengths, weaknesses and determined where actNOW could fill the gaps.

Why actNOW?

Secondary Research: Provisional Personas

I created provisional personas that reflected the data I had collected through user research. Understanding the target audience helped me determine how actNOW would appeal to different demographics with varying needs.

Click to enlarge image

Define & Ideate

In the discovery phase we had figured out potential problems to be solved.  By attending local DC Meetups, I discovered a startup accelerator – Startups Ignite – which accepted actNOW to be part of their Design Sprint to help define our scope of work. In a span of 5 days, we established our project vision and goals, brainstormed “How Might We’ solve the problems identified, and gathered feedback on actNOW’s service blueprint.

Group Brainstorming

Through synthesizing the insights discovered through qualitative data for each persona, we began brainstorming ‘How Might We” solution statements to holistically view how empowerment would be achieved, with actNOW. 

Project Vision and Goals

We analyzed the target user’s needs and evaluated which could be solvable in phased approach based on team knowledge, resource time, and market entry analysis. A key success metric in Phase 1 was to gather data on actNOW’s user engagement and adoption throughout the community. In turn, this would increase campus officials trust and acceptance towards actNOW’s capabilities as a form asset for survivors and their students. 

Product Requirements

actNOW’s purpose is to facilitate a survivor’s ability to take back control and foster reassurance in the ability seek appropriate healthcare and guidance.  As a survivor-centered platform, the need to emulate a trauma-informed like interview within a digital service was key. By incorporating the Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview techniques, we were able to define actionable moments for a user to opt-in and gather additional information to achieve progressive steps when locating resources and journal what just happened.

Design

Information Design

After discovering, gathering insights and defining our focus, we defined content type definitions, information architecture and user flows.

User Flow: Reporting Anonymously (YES)

Interaction Design

To gather usability insights, I developed a lo-fi clickable prototype using Proto.io to help aid user conversations. A core goal during design was to minimize the amount taps needed to obtain the necessary information or report, after a traumatic event. 

Feel free to click through the interactive mockup below! Hint…click the actNOW icon 😉

Team Formation

I was blessed to mature my leadership and sense of accountability during this journey.  To achieve the vision of actNOW, it was vital to understand my strengths and weaknesses, while identifying collaborators who complemented each other.  The key themes I embodied when structuring the actNOW Family was to have:

  • A shared vision & mission
  • Transparency
  • Empowerment to act confidently

The Outcome

You may have noticed, where’s the development section!? I live by the mantra, “play the hand you’re dealt” and play it to the best of your ability; with passion. Our team actively led community outreach activities and fundraising campaigns to source actNOW’s technical development and to shed awareness on the climate of sexual assault. We believed MEN can too stop this unwanted experiences, but its a 24/7 grind to ultimately achieve such a triumph task. The team had unexpected family and job priority shifts, which greatly slowed the momentum. For me personally, I matured in the area of rejection, but I always recognized the small wins and never regretted the startup no-no’s the actNOW Family experienced, together.  

What I've Learned 🧐

Challenge yourself. Step out your comfort zone. Empower and passionately lead your team. Be the unexpected change, in a tough topic to overcome.   

All of the experiences noted above happened for a reason and it ultimately led me to discovering my career aspiration in product management, with a focus on crafting social change. Being featured in ARLNow created a sense of realness towards achieving my vision for actNOW.  I’ve learned to truly focus on the product FIRST, and the administrative/tech startup necessities will naturally come to fruition.  Secondly, by solely focusing on the product, the ability to define high impact, less effort features would have enabled our team to build actNOW’s MVP, with the resources we had in-house.

In the end, my actNOW journey is a “to be continued” story.  I pledged to myself that my next career opportunity would be to pioneer a company’s mission by managing and delivering impactful digital services.