Every night across Australia 22,000 teenagers are homeless

The Oasis Homelessness Project specifically addresses youth homelessness. Disturbingly, homelessness experienced by people aged 12 to 24 has increased 9.9% in Australia over a five-year period.

The project’s goals are to raise awareness of youth homelessness, design and deliver education materials on homelessness in schools, engage the community and put the issues on the national agenda.

Our brief was to investigate how to provide lesson plans and materials on the topic of homelessness in a way that helps educators deliver the content to students and specifically to review the current online experience and make recommendations for improvements.

 

My role: UX Designer, UX Researcher, UX Strategist

Methods: competitor/comparator analysis, contextual enquiry, user interviews, heuristic evaluation of the current website, hypothesis development, sketching, wireframing, usability testing

Tools: sticky notes, pen and paper, sketches, empathy maps, affinity maps, customer journey maps, Lucidchart, Sketch and InVision

Duration: 3 week sprint

Team: 2 UX Designers

"I would definitely recommend working with Sarah - A complete pleasure to work with on The Oasis Homelessness Project bringing enthusiasm, depth of research and practical recommendations to significantly improve UX for teachers. Sarah’s careful consideration of YLab's matrix of stakeholders resulted in a really thorough and valuable User Experience analysis and clarified a lot of our uncertainties with the project. YLab will be implementing Sarah and Corina’s findings going forward!"

Bianca (Bee) Orsini, YLab Director, YLab Global

The challenge

Awareness of the program is low amongst secondary school teachers. When they do visit the website they find it confusing and difficult to navigate, so educators are looking for education resources elsewhere.

Our solution

A redesigned online experience that ensures that teachers are easily able to find the education resources they need and that those resources meet their needs.

The journey

Discovery

Upon receipt of the brief we visited the website to find out more about the program and explore the resources available. The website was quite hard to find. Once located it was interesting to find that the home page looked like it was about the movie and there wasn’t any information about the project itself.

User interviews

Our primary target audience was secondary school teachers, so we decided it was time to get to understand them and how they sourced their education materials. We reached out to our networks and recruited a small group of secondary school teachers to interview. Our one-on-one interviews gave us some valuable insights.

Most teachers hadn’t heard of the program before, yet they were all incorporating social issues, including homelessness, into their curriculum. Being time poor, they were all searching online to find information and teaching resources wherever they could.

What do teachers want?

Does the website cater for the teachers’ needs? A heuristic evaluation

Armed with these insights, we undertook a heuristic evaluation of the website. The navigation was confusing, with two menus – one at the top and one on the left-hand side – competing for the user’s attention. In addition, the menu labelling was inconsistent and there was no search function.

Looking at the education resources in particular, they felt as if they don’t really belong on this website, as there’s no context for them being there. They are currently available in two formats – downloadable as PDFs or as videos from the Cool Australia website. This in itself is a disconcerting experience, as users are re-directed to the Cool Australia site with no warning, disrupting the flow of their journey. There is no way of filtering the results either, meaning the user has to scroll to find what they want.

In general the experience was confusing and difficult, including inactive links, confusing labelling, and impersonal interactions. Accessibility is limited due to extremely busy visuals and use of a small typeface.

As a result, the current delivery of resources doesn’t meet the teachers’ needs. Critically, they want all their resources in one place, online. The teaching resources need to be broken into bite-sized chunks and classroom activities need to be highlighted, so they are easy to find.

Seeking inspiration from competitors

For inspiration we turned our minds to the competition – it is fierce! There are a wealth of organisations providing information about homelessness, such as The Salvation Army, Kids Under Cover and Youth Off the Streets. Some of them also provide teaching materials and others don’t. In addition, there are many organisations that aren’t specifically about homelessness, but have comprehensive teaching materials that can easily be tailored to suit any subject matter.

Insights

  • Awareness of the program is low
  • Teachers are going to all sorts of sources for material
  • The website is confusing and difficult to navigate
  • Teachers are time poor, so they need something quick and easy to use.

Who are we designing for?

Our secondary school teacher archetype the searcher

Key characteristics
  • Knowledgeable
  • Confident
  • Researches
  • Likes to be in control
  • Time poor.
Needs and goals
  • Convenience
  • Efficiency
  • Simplicity
  • Credibility
  • Time saving.

Finding and using resources on The Oasis website is difficult and time consuming!

Pain points and frustrations

  • Struggles to navigate the website to find the resources they want
  • Discovers that the teaching resources are lengthy PDFs that will take a long time to go through to prepare their lessons
  • Struggle to find the relevant sections
  • Need to be able to tailor to their particular lessons and the resources are only available as PDFs
  • Left feeling that there are easier ways to source their education materials elsewhere.

Our solution

A redesigned online experience

To guide our solution we asked ourselves

  • How might we ensure that teachers can easily find relevant education resources on the website?
  • How might we design the resources to meet teachers’ needs?

We addressed the key issues that teachers had been struggling with to make information about the project and relevant education materials quick and easy to find.

Our starting point was to address the primary concerns by ensuring that the homepage was focused on the project, rather than the movie. We removed the side navigation bar to avoid confusion and ensured that the information architecture had a logical structure. We kept the layout clean and clear.

We consolidated all the existing sections about the movie into one clearly labelled section, so people could easily find it if that was their area of interest.

We restructured the education section to better cater to teachers’ needs by simplifying the categories and ensuring they were easy to find.

Results

A redesigned online experience that is clean, clear and easy to use. Initial usability testing validated our design to date and the client is pleased with the result and planning to implement the new design.

Next steps

  • Test the prototype with more users from the target audience
  • Incorporate users’ feedback into the design and refine the wireframes
  • Clarify ownership of the content
  • Discuss the content management strategy
  • Review the copy to ensure it is written for the web, to maintain language consistency and to test lesson-specific terminology with teachers
  • Go high fidelity with the screens.

Further down the track

  • Consider adding filters in the Education & Resources section if the number of lessons on offer increases significantly
  • Better define secondary audiences (ambassadors, people in need) and test the dedicated sections on the website with these users.