The goal of this project is to provide a platform for people willing to donate items in their community to help people. People will be able to donate items like clothes, shelter, appliances, furniture and food. People who are in need of such donations would be able to search for items which are available to be donated. A special case in the features would be the display of items like food and shelter at kiosks which is targeted for homeless people as winters are really harsh in Michigan.
Plenty of reusable artifacts are thrown into the garbage dump every single day. This may be because one buys an upgrade over a previous item, their needs of an item are sufficed or simply because of a minor fault with the object. Such items range from appliances, furniture, clothes to books and other miscellaneous products. This got me thinking about the problem in a new perspective. Why were people not donating it to others who might need the item? As I talked to various people about this issue, I got to understand the underlying problem – people are not aware if anyone else needs their old items and how will they know of such people. The high-level solution was to provide a medium for the people to know these details and creating an effective easy to use to carry out such transactions.
I started with the process of researching in the field of how donations work and what makes people donate items. This study introduced me to a variety of target audiences and helped me understand them better. The competitive analysis was done using some of the websites and applications which offer similar functionality. This revealed a fair amount of knowledge in concern to conventions, good and bad practices and the reason of the failure of currently implemented systems in solving the problem of item donation. These nuances allowed me to finalize the scope of my project. Moving forward, I initially devised three design approaches based on the concepts of emotional design and participatory design which consisted excerpts from my knowledge of theories of social influence as well. As I compared these 3 approaches with each other, I learned that some of the decisions in each approach were helpful and user-friendly in different aspects of the system. The most valuable part of my process was the brainstorming and user interviews, which brought to focus many critical points of the system as some of my decisions were biased because of me considering myself as the user. These inputs were very confusing but very valuable. As I moved towards the next step of QOC analysis, these insights were very helpful in formulating the design consideration of the design synthesis. The QOC analysis allowed me to devise a final synthesis of the design solution which I held as a baseline for my wireframes and prototypes.
The most important philosophy that I would regard in the field of interaction is that one should always keep the user at the zenith of the design process. All the design decision that one makes should direct towards the end user because the success or failure of a system is determined by this one simple yet important factor. One should never generalize the target audience of a system. Also, my system being one of humanitarian in nature, the concept of emotional design was also an important influence in my design decisions. The system hinges on the altruistic nature of people and this is bolstered by the sustainability issue which this system aims to contribute to. Another important factor is the importance of user interviews and feedback. This really helps you scope the boundaries of the project and gain clarity with regard to your design decisions.
The target audience of the application would be people have items which they can give away and people who will receive these items. Another target group would be homeless people who will not directly interact with the system but can use it to get information regarding food and shelter via kiosks.
The target solution is an application for a smartphone which a person can use to list an item he is willing to donate by putting up the relevant details like, item type, details, comments, location, and pictures. This item would then be stored on a server and another person who wants to receive/accept this donation can use the same application to search for items which are up for donation.
In my analysis, I have omitted charitable organizations which accept money as a means of donations. I have included organizations which accept household items. Accordingly, I will be developing a digital interface, such as an app or a web page to facilitate the donation of commodities in the neighborhood connect those that need these commodities. It seems inappropriate to call organizations doing similar things as competitors as this is being done for the social good. Hence, I have focused on supporting organizations in Ann Arbor which are at least partially serving these needs in some way.
A. People Interviewed
- 43-Year-Old woman from Ann Arbor – Working Mother of 2
- 28-year-old graduate student from Ann Arbor
- 25-year-old international student from India
- 23-year-old international student from China
I asked the following questions to the interviewer as a part of the process: 1. Are you willing to donate? If yes, what would you like to donate? 2. What do you think of a mobile application for the local Ann Arbor community?
- Are you willing to donate? If yes, what would you like to donate?
- What do you think of a mobile application for the local Ann Arbor community?
- Would you use an application to donate leftover food to those in need?
- What do you think is the best way to hand over donated items?
- Anything that you would expect out of such a system which I may have not covered?
The answers varied from person to person but had a central tendency towards a point of focus with slight variations. People were willing to donate items more easily if they did not have to go out of the way to donate items. All of them liked the idea of an application which could simplify the donation process. People were even in acceptance of donating food to homeless people. Though one issue which popped up was that in case of food donation by an individual, it would be difficult as the person on receiving end would have to go to location of house owner. Some people may not like this idea as it may arise as a privacy concern. All felt that drop off locations would be good for such kind of donations. People liked the idea of sharing their contribution on social media so that it can help make other people to jump on the bandwagon and start donating items.
Brainstorming helped me put focus on some functional aspects of the design. I helped me gain more clarity on the intermediary states of the interactions involved in the application. Following are the aspects which were greatly improved my brainstorming session:
- Categorization of Donations
- Use of motivation in linguistics.
- Use of a simplistic clutter free design.
- A concept for real-time display of information at kiosks.
- Removing the functionality for food distribution through individuals.
- Option to provide contact to organizations for bulk donations.
- Item Wanted system for donation receivers.
- Revised Gamification of system
Interactive Hi-Fi Prototype
Making a Donation
- Log in to the system.
- Select the Donate option
- Add an image of the item to be donated.(Optional)
- Add Item description, category & Comments.
- Select anonymous option if you are leaving an item at a place and do not want to be contacted about it.
- Select a location where the donation is located.
- Your donation is complete. You may share it to your social media profile.
Receiving a Donation
- Log in to the system.
- Select the Receive option.
- A map view of all the local listings is displayed.
- Swiping up the items takes you to a complete listing of all items in the vicinity. The markers to these are color coded as per categories.
- Clicking on a marker or a list item will take you to the listing.
- There is an option to contact the donor by the inbuilt messaging system.
The donations in a region can be sorted by categories and the proximity by distance. The users can specify the distance in miles.
There is a simple one-to-one messaging system within the app which allows people to contact each other and stay in touch.