UX Boot Camp: Four jam-packed days designing for a cause

On July 30th, 28 designers, engineers, and project managers came together in sunny San Francisco from as far away as the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, and Korea for a compelling mission: learn new user experience design methods and use those skills for social good. Over four intensely-packed days, they crammed their brains with Cooper's design methodology, broke into six teams, and got to work solving a real-world challenge for the nonprofit, Women’s Earth Alliance.

To see more of the magic in action, check out the rest of our photos.

Women’s Earth Alliance (WEA) is small non-profit with big global ambitions: through relationships with grassroots organizations in Africa, India, and the United States they coordinate financial resources, training, and advocacy for women environmental leaders who are addressing climate change in their communities. Students were tasked with finding new ways that design and technology can amplify the efforts of WEA’s strong support base in the United States and make them more powerful stakeholders, thereby augmenting the work of WEA’s small staff of six.

“Designers think in an out-of-the-box way, and it’s important that nonprofits get a chance to think that way, too. This collaboration has opened our eyes to new ways of thinking, new possibilities, and new perspectives. It has provided us with invaluable tools to amplify our impact. The students’ concepts provide us with incredible fodder to work with for years to come,” says Melinda Kramer, Founder and Co-Director of WEA.

Given that WEA’s strength lies in its relationships, students came up with web and mobile concepts that help the organization’s most loyal allies become even stronger ambassadors, empowering them with interactive and social ways to promote WEA through their own networks. Each team pitched their final concept to a panel of WEA and Cooper judges, and one winning team was selected. Have a look below to see what they came up with. You’ll be amazed how far their thinking got in a short four days. We were.

The Concepts

Winning Team: Drafting Dots

Team Drafting DotsLeft to right: Megan Ellinger (NAS), Laura Cochran (Gannett), Christen Penny, and Kevin Hollingsworth (not pictured)

Team Drafting Dot recognized that participation in social causes means different things to different people, and that WEA’s allies have a variety of skills and resources to contribute. The team’s big idea was to use WEA’s web presence to promote the most active and loyal allies as leaders. Leaders get simple, mobile (and some non-digital!) tools to recruit support for the projects that mean the most to them. New contributors are inspired by their local community leaders and gain a personal connection to the global mission of WEA.

Team CIA

Team CIALeft to right: Wyatt Starosta, Tim Connor (Cloud City Development), Zak Brazen (Ministers of the Environment), and Barry Richardson

The “Connect.Illuminate.Activate” (CIA) team focused on tools to help WEA allies spread the word and recruit support with face-to-face interactions. They envisioned a mobile app that both tells the story of WEA through video and photography, and quickly captures contact data from prospective participants, who are immediately engaged with a “welcome” email. By making outreach a quick and easy one-on-one activity, team CIA’s app helps WEA communicate their story far and wide.

Team Currents

Left to right: David Nguyen (RED Digital Camera), Carissa Schneider (Campus Mgmt Corp), Matt Johnson (Visual Logic), Becky Lawson (Otterbox), and Annie Cocchia (Planet Argon)

Aiming high, Team Currents tackled the problem of how to make the passion of the WEA organization “go viral.” Their solution centers on ways to share stories with personal networks by “skipping a stone” – sending compelling WEA stories from person to person, across the social graph. Team Currents imagined a new website where WEA allies can both contribute to part of a project’s story and visualize the expanding network of participants.

Team Dreamweaver

Left to right: Tej Patel (Storm Software Solutions), Fati Farajmandi (Mindjet), Beth Klem, and Chris Portugal

The concept from Team Dreamweaver looked at ways to celebrate and facilitate WEA ally participation. Their design helps allies plan and host a WEA fundraising event at home (“House Party”) and share WEA stories with friends and family, with crystal clear calls to action.  Dreamweaver’s reconceived WEA website makes allies a part of the stories by highlighting how their actions lead to result.

Team Heartbeat

Left to right: Chamblis Broman (Cengage Learning), Tamar Blanc (Cisco), David Hanzl (AVG Technologis), and Joshua Outwater

The design concept from Team Heartbeat focused on using storytelling as a tool to recruit new contributors and maintain a high level of engagement from WEA allies. Their insight was that stories are most impactful when they feel personal, including the fact that they take time to unfold. Using an engaging timeline to broadcast the progress of events throughout a project, allies experience the story unfolding, with updates woven into their daily life. By drawing the story through time, participants see the impact they have on the world through WEA in a totally new way.

Team Kickass

Left to right: Jason Tompson (Visual Logic), Kim Harvey (Cooper), Jayoung Jung (Daum Communication), Dawn Albano (Campus Mgmt Corp), Andy Van Fleet (Visual Logic)

The Team Kickass concept harnesses people’s desire to know they are on a winning team, to feel the satisfaction that comes with doing something concrete and good. They proposed WEA project campaigns that emphasize the direct connection between donor and deed, making giving goal-oriented and specific. Their website design shows WEA allies the progress toward funding goals for the projects they care about, and tells the story of how each and every donation carries WEA toward that goal.

Where is UX Boot Camp going next?

When: October 8-11, 2012

Where: Monkey Ranch, Alan Cooper’s 50-acre organic farm in Petaluma, California

Venue details + Map (45 minutes drive north of San Francisco, CA)

Nearby hotels

Register!

We’ve got a stellar UX Boot Camp coming up October 8-11 on Alan Cooper’s 50-acre organic farm in sunny Petaluma, California! Attendees will put our Goal-Directed design process into practice designing tasty new mobile and web solutions for Alice Waters' Edible Schoolyard Project (ESY). By providing teachers the tools to implement garden and kitchen-based curricula in K-12 classrooms, ESY is addressing the obesity epidemic, enhancing the educational experience with interactive lesson plans, and spreading awareness about sustainable agriculture and local food systems. Lend a hand as we come up with innovative ways innovative ways to…

  • Get America’s kids eating better
  • Inspire students and teachers to create their own Edible Schoolyards
  • Share their green-thumb skills with other kids across the country.

Read more here!

Wait. I could go to UX Boot Camp for FREE?

Yep, it’s possible! We’ll be announcing a contest to win a free seat to the course early next week on our blog – so stay tuned!

The people who made it all happen...

The success of this UX Boot Camp is due to an amazing community of people to whom we are oh-so-grateful. A special thanks to Kendra Shimmell for envisioning the UX Boot Camp program and leading the workshop. We also want to acknowledge co-instructors Nikki Knox, Chris Noessel, and Teresa Brazen for bringing their unique content ideas to the coursework. And high five to our awesome Cooper U intern, Kimberly Harvey, for her contributions to the curriculum. We appreciate the support Women’s Earth Alliance provided throughout and the help of their fantastic allies who made themselves available for research interviews and judging of the final concepts. And, last but not least, thanks to our students for all their hard work, commitment, and out-of-the-box thinking. You made us proud!