Table of Contents


UX Designer, UX Researcher

Worked with a student team of four. All of us contributed equally throughout each project phase.

Research: Conducted initial user research and compiled insights into a report, conducted user testing and validation testing with 8 participants

Design: High-fidelity interactive prototype, UX specification, design handoff (including recommendations and alternatives)
Immigration Advocates Network  (IAN) is a legal resource project by Pro Bono Net with the mission of expanding access to immigration legal resources and information through collaboration and technology. They provide various tools to support immigrants, immigrant advocates, and external organizations who are passionate about the cause

Our team partnered with IAN to design a tool to facilitate peer-to-peer communication and resource sharing among IAN members. We focused on addressing inefficiencies in current communication practices among immigration advocates.
8 months (Sep 2019 - Apr 2020)

Project Goal

Currently, communication between IAN members takes place primarily through external channels (i.e., email/email listservs or by phone). These channels are limited in their efficiency and security. Moreover, those working in the fields of immigration and immigration law need to stay up-to-date in a field that is constantly changing.

The goal of this project is to present a solution for facilitating secure, timely, and supportive communications among IAN members, who are primarily legal workers. Our solution should address the knowledge and information-sharing needs of IAN’s users and meet the requirements outlined by our client.


In order to understand the requirements for a design solution, we needed to understand why communication amongst our target users, immigration advocates, is critical. We asked the following research question to better understand the needs, goals, and wants of IAN members:

What kind of knowledge and/or resources are relevant and useful for Immigration Advocates members?

IAN has conducted user research in the past, through web analytics and in-person interviews. Our team built on top of that and leveraged the methods below to guide our research questions.

research methods

Research insights

Competitive Analysis: While listservs enable communication across a wide channel of members, it’s inefficient for private conversations. Messaging platforms like Slack provide better security but require more effort to search for specific information. Forums have better searchability and access to archives.

Web Analytics: Members spend most of their time navigating the Legal Directory pages on the current IAN website, even more so than the Library. This indicates that members might be more interested in connecting with other advocates rather than finding broad resources.

Surveys (135 participants): From the IAN site, members found the Webinars, Legal Directory, and Library features to be the most helpful in their work. While they were satisfied with the site, members felt it was difficult to find resources, share them, and filter through them.

User Interviews (5 participants): Members feel that a sense of community and trust is needed for people to share info about their work. Additionally, members want more searchable and customizable experiences so that they can find relevant information and people.

After analyzing the feedback from our user interviews, our team did an affinity diagramming exercise outlining user pain points, needs, and wants.

affinity diagram


After analyzing findings from our user research and consulting with the client, we defined the following UX requirements, each of which map to respective system requirements.

Reduce information overload. One of our interviewees suggested thinking about what people need to know and find ways to highlight that information to avoid "information bombs.” We sought functionality that could surface relevant content to users in a consolidated form, based on temporal & geographic factors or specific domains.

Evoke a sense of security and privacy. Members must ensure they are sharing information securely and responsibly. One interviewee noted that “people are worried that if the
information’s just out there for anyone to see, it won’t be any good in court.” Members will likely not use our tool if they do not feel that their information can be shared in confidence.

Build trust. Members must feel they can trust the communication tool (system trust). Trust must also be built among members (interpersonal trust). We want to emphasize transparency in inquiry and information sharing processes. This could be achieved through onboarding, community self regulation, and clear policies.

Cultivate communities. Members have mentioned that being able to connect with peers is an important factor. To encourage members to connect and contribute to the forum, we can instill a form of reputation amongst members. We can also leverage extrinsic motivators, so that members with a high reputation can be rewarded. If subgroups take form organically, it would allow members to take part in more intimate conversation within certain domains. These subgroups can also foster peer mentorship and open discussion.

Our client had also shared their business requirements, which allowed us to determine how to prioritize our efforts throughout the design process:

1) Can be implemented without development budget
2) Can be easily integrated with minimal effort for client
3) Targets both non-profit and pro-bono members as a unified user group

Early concepts

Our team held brainstorming sessions where we each sketched feature ideas based on our research and requirements, discussed pros and cons, and aggregated ideas to prioritize features such as onboarding, search and filter, flagging, and Circles.

Doing an affinity mapping exercise allowed us to narrow our focus onto a few of these concepts to create user flows, wireframes, and prototypes.

brainstorming sketches
My sketches can be found in the image on the left, middle column
user flow


Our mid-fidelity wireframes were based off of our user flows and UX requirements. I owned the designs for creating a post, commenting/replying on a post, forum view, and flagging a post.

User testing

Initial Testing

We developed a rapid user testing procedure, consisting of several tasks for participants ranging from the onboarding process to creating a post. We encouraged participants to think out loud by explaining what actions they thought they could take on each page. The session concluded with a set of post-test questions about easy tasks, difficult tasks, and their overall sentiment.

• Having ephemeral messages reduced trustworthiness of the system
• The "Circles" feature had an unclear scope – who can view content within?
• Forum felt text-heavy, despite having a UX requirement to reduce information overload

Validation Testing

Given the feedback from our initial user testing, we adjusted our prototype and conducted several validation testing methods to assess the overarching experience of our site and catch any small changes before finalizing our designs. We used remote single system testing, post-task questionnaires, Likert Scale questions, and the System Usability Scale (SUS).

• Average SUS score: 81.25 (A)
• 98.25% task completion rate amongst participants
• "Circles" feature was generally well-received

Opportunities to improve:
• Need for explanatory onboarding content
• Privacy controls for profile information

validation testing - likert scale graph
Likert Scale results

Final Designs

Creating a sitemap helped us visualize the information architecture for our proposed solution, intentionally following a flat hierarchy in order to make navigation between pages easier.


Next Steps

• Needing further validation testing with IAN members. Due to time constraints, our team wasn't able to validate our final designs.
• Considering alternative cost-efficient community platforms. Building a custom tool can be timely and costly, so we shared a pros/cons list of alternatives such as Slack, Discord, and Keybase.
• Sharing research-based recommendations for online community building, to help IAN foster a successful online community with their membership.


• Learned how to work on a long-term project with a team and a client.
• Created presentable deliverables for each project milestone, in the form of reports and presentations.
• Oversaw and contributed to the end-to-end research and design process.
• Convinced the client that our design is an ideal solution to the presented problem, and provided well-researched alternative options.