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Within 3 weeks, find the pain points and habits of the Austin community in relation to how they perceive the homeless community and the ways they can help.   User research included interviewing local community members, and nonprofit Saint Louise House of Austin.  Overall research found that community members wanted to donate passively and nonprofits said their biggest need was money.



People are aware of the homelessness problem in Austin and genuinely want to help. People think supplies are most needed and feel those donations make the most impact. However, nonprofits report that monetary donations are what they need. We also know that when donating is convenient individuals are more willing to give.

Therefore, we believe individuals need a way to give in-the-moment in which they see their donations are directly supporting the cause.


Our originals idea as the team brainstormed included ways to talk to the homeless community directly, and also see how to provide goods and or services directly to them.  However, there were safety concerns over how to safely interview the homeless community during a pandemic.  We assumed too early that basing the app on donation of goods and services would be the first steps.           

After much discussion and additional insight gathered, we found that the actual best way to help is to provide additional monetary donations to non-profits that already help the homeless community directly.


PledgeJar, an app that allows people, businesses and nonprofits to combat homelessness in Austin together. All in the flow of their lives.
 For consumers like Maria, they select a % of their bill to donate at check out for the local homeless nonprofit of their choice.

For businesses, PledgeJar provides them the chance to donate at the same time as that consumer to the homeless nonprofit of their choice. 
 For nonprofits, they get donations to make impact directly to the homeless with quality services.

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After defining our proto-persona, we came up with our research plan. In order to test our hypothesis, we interviewed nine participants where we learned about individuals’ knowledge of the Austin homelessness problem, their donating and volunteering experiences, and their shopping habits.


From the interview data and affinity diagram we learned that the majority of our interviewees empathized greatly with the homeless community and took part in being involved. We found that people generally prefer to volunteer and contribute directly through organizations, rather than giving money or goods to a nonprofit.

We also learned that many hesitate to give monetary donations unless requested at a register - such as rounding up to the next dollar. Transparency is very important in order for people to feel connected to the cause.

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We took these key characteristics and placed them in an Empathy Map to use as a guide to create our User Persona, Maria. This is Maria. She is a compassionate 32 year old Austinite who is aware of the homelessness issue and wants to help. She mostly gives physical goods because that’s where she sees the most impact, but she sometimes makes small donations while she shops.

Maria wants to give to her community  She wants to see and trust that her monetary donations are making an impact  She hopes to see the homelessness issue make positive progress.

How Might We… So how might we provide Maria with insight and knowledge of where her contributions are being spent, so that she feels secure in her donation towards helping the homeless?


To kick off brainstorming we used the “I like, I wish, What If”
 tool.  Maria likes to know about nonprofits before giving she likes to know how her money is used and she’s most likely to donate money while shopping. She wishes that understanding how her money is used was easier and that donating in general was easy and digital.


Then, we took these points and flipped them.  What if Maria could see the outcome of her contributions? 
 What if she could keep tabs on her donations to see the impact she is having? 
 We brainstormed features and prioritized them using a matrix. Five were incorporated into our app

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Our team diverged to create our task and user flows, and gain inspiration for the UI of our app.  We then converged to paper prototyping these flows which eventually turned into a low fidelity clickable prototype created in Figma.

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After paper prototyping, we created an interactive low-fidelity version in Figma.  After conducting 10 usability tests with our low-fidelity prototype, we immediately saw some key areas to improve upon.

Our user feedback revealed that there was still confusion about how the donation process works. Although a key component of PledgeJar allows local businesses to participate, the user did not want to actually see this part during the confirmation screen.


Our moodboard gathered inspiration that would root our UI in simplicity, delight, and of course, Austin personality.  

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