UX Bootcamp supercharges participants as they design products for the American Red Cross of Greater Columbus

“Build a design that empowers ordinary people to do the extraordinary.”
“Learn better ways to promote design concepts to partners.”
“Challenge my process and how I work.” 
“Nurture my creative side.” 
“Learn techniques to better understand end-users.” 
“Build friendships and connections.”
“Learn ways to collaborate with coworkers.” 
“Practice, practice, practice.”
These are just a few of the reasons that 26 designers, engineers, and product managers joined forces in Columbus, Ohio last week for our inaugural UX Bootcamp competition. Their mission was to learn user experience design and use their new skills for social good. Over four intensely-packed days, they crammed their brains with Cooper’s design methodology, broke into three self-selected teams, and put those learnings into practice to solve a real-world challenge for the American Red Cross of Greater Columbus. Each team pitched a concept for a mobile application that would empower and inspire members of ClubRED (a young professional’s volunteer group within the American Red Cross of Greater Columbus). Cooper donated $1000 to the nonprofit in the name of the winning team, ClubRED Connect.
WinningTeam.jpgThe winning team (ClubRED Connect), our friends from the American Red Cross of Greater Columbus, and one oversized check.

Inside UX Bootcamp

It’s called bootcamp for a reason. We asked our students to perform within a tight timeline, and they took on our challenge like champs. We were mighty impressed when teams showed up an hour before the workshop one morning to get a head start on their designs (can you say, “extra credit?”). Although it was an intensive course, the teams kept great attitudes throughout. In fact, at one point, all the groups decided to set aside competition to work together to gather and share research data, knowing everyone’s work would be better as a result. And they bravely stood up in front of a panel of tough, Dancing-with-the-Stars-esque judges to pitch their concepts at the end of the four days. We heard things like, “My brain muscle got quite a workout!”, “You took me on a scary journey, but I came out smiling,” and “The transformation was unanimous.”
JudgesScores.jpgThe judges scored teams in four categories: how well their concept addressed user and business needs; perceived impact; “wow” factor; and presentation skills. (Photo: Paul J Hart)

UX Bootcamp In Pictures

Get a taste of what it was like to be immersed in our crazy UX Bootcamp world by checking our our photo set on Flickr, or this nifty video montage:

The Final Pitches: What Teams Designed In  Four Jam-Packed Days

Winning Team: ClubRED Connect


ClubRED Connect gives volunteers the ability to turn existing social experiences into fundraising micro-events for the American Red Cross…with very little effort. Here’s how it works: designate a location for friends to gather (Let’s meet for happy hour!), take photos of interesting moments, share them with your friends via the app, and make a correlated donation to the nonprofit on the spot. Your friends are challenged to one-up your donation by sharing a “Red Cross Moment” of their own and making a contribution themselves. In this way, your small contribution is amplified by your friends, your friends’ friends and more.
Presentation Deck: TeamClubREDConnect_Pitch.pdf

Snapshots of the design process:

DevelopingScenarios.jpgDeveloping Scenarios (Photo: Paul J Hart)
DevelopingFramework.jpgDeveloping Framework (Photo: Paul J Hart)
Mock-up of concept (Photo: Paul J Hart)

Team: I+CBUS


I+CBUS removes barriers to volunteerism by offering lightweight ways to get involved in your local Red Cross chapter. Participation can be as simple as pushing a button to donate, scheduling a time to donate blood, pass crisis information on to your social network, sign up to attend social events, or learn about other simple ways you can pitch in. The tool gives the American Red Cross an easy way to push needs, alerts and calls-to-action to the public, while giving volunteers a simple way to amplify their participation and have greater impact.

Snapshots of the design process:

Brainstorming (Photo: Paul J Hart)
Branding explorations
Concept illustrations (alert and user flow)

Team: Save the Day


Recognizing that we are all motivated differently, the Save the Day app gives people the ability to help at times of crisis in a way that makes sense for their lifestyle, personality, and skills. Some people prefer to assist at the scene with blankets and food. Others feel most effective and valuable by rallying their friends to fundraise. Some are best at getting the word out to their networks. The Save the Day app maximizes participation by acknowledging that it takes all types of contributions to get through crisis, and lets individuals respond to events in their way.

Snapshots of the design process:

Brainstorming session (Photo: Paul J Hart)
Scenario exploration and app design

What’s Next for UX Bootcamp

Creating a space for so many diverse, talented people to engage with one another, learn new skills, and apply them to a meaningful challenge was incredibly gratifying. As you can imagine, it just fueled our already passionate-desire to take the bootcamp to other places. We’re solidifying the spot and nonprofit partner for the next UX Bootcamp adventure – stay tuned! (If you want to be notified directly of where we’ll set up shop next, shoot us an email at
A special thanks to Kendra Shimmell for envisioning the UX Bootcamp and leading the curriculum development effort. We also want to acknowledge Constanza Miranda and Teresa Brazen for bringing their unique content ideas to the coursework. Kendra did a stellar job leading the workshop, with the support of co-instructors Teresa Brazen and Brian Stone. A special thanks to Brian for connecting us with our fantastic, engaged nonprofit partner. Speaking of which, we appreciate all the support the American Red Cross of Greater Columbus provided throughout, like having staff onsite throughout for questions and critique, and bringing in ClubRED volunteers for research interviews. And, last but not least, thanks to Sparkspace for providing a truly inspiring place to learn, teach, and play.

The Editors

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