Building a Community of Change Makers
Launching an Asia-Pacific-wide venture that unites youth and senior policymakers to promote children’s rights
Role: UX Researcher and web developer at tandemic
Teams: design, product management, software engineering, content strategy, marketing
Methods: expert interviews, user personas, card sorting, information architecture, cognitive walkthroughs, literature review, interviews
Empower youths across Asia-Pacific to innovate and improve the lives of children around the themes of health, violence, and social protection.
The Youth Innovation Challenge united 950+ youths and senior policymakers from 18 Asia-Pacific countries to promote children’s rights.
Company Award (awarded to only two employees out of the entire company) for my key role in taking the deliverable from concept to launch within six weeks.
The Asia-Pacific Youth Innovation Challenge, a platform for youths to apply human-centered design principles, share innovative ideas with government leaders, and execute transformative ideas.
“Children should be seen but not heard”—while old and untrue, this expression still rings true in certain modern communities. Research has shown that young people can indeed successfully create social change [ref]. Taking that reality to heart, UNICEF, a United Nations agency that provides humanitarian and developmental assistance to children in developing countries, was seeking a way to make an impact.
UNICEF approached Tandemic with an ambitious goal: to unite young people and senior policymakers to jointly promote children’s rights. Together, we explored ways to provide an online platform and mentoring opportunities for youths to apply human-centered design principles, share innovative ideas with government leaders, and execute transformative ideas.
Focusing on our users’ needs, behaviors, and emotions, I conducted three expert interviews and a literature review to create user personas for our target population—young people aged 24 and under from 18 Asia-Pacific countries .
UNICEF and my team thought users might need an interactive website with creative animations and beautiful effects to attract users’ attention, but from the research interviews, another urgent need emerged.
Insight: The website needs to be usable by those with limited internet access, computer skills, and English proficiency.
Having incorporated the complex technical and business requirements into my research, I then advocated my research findings and recommendations to diverse audiences through a written report and in-person presentation.
Design and Engineering: Provide users with two submission methods:
Users with limited internet access or unstable internet connection can download the submission form, fill it out offline, and submit their ideas as a .doc or .pdf document
Users with limited skills in using MS Word or creating PDF files can fill out a self-explanatory online submission form instead
Content Strategy: Use clear and simple language & provide tooltips to give further clarification
To examine the website’ usability, quality, and performance, I conducted interviews and cognitive walkthroughs with eight participants . One of the key tasks was for participants to: 1) understand their home countries’ challenges, 2) download the Challenge Handbook that lays out how and why human-centered design can impact the social sector, and 3) submit their ideas to the website.
Building on my user research and design best practices, I generated the following key insights and actionable recommendations:
Insight: Participants didn’t know why they should participate in the Innovation Challenge
Recommendations for Marketing, Design, and Content Strategy:
Ensure that the marketing materials and landing page highlights the incentives for young people to participate in the Innovation Challenge (e.g., potential impact of their work, mentoring opportunities, a chance to collaborate with senior government leaders, and travel and monetary awards)
Insight: Participants were unaware that there was a Challenge Handbook; they started brainstorming and submitting their ideas before learning about and applying human-centered design principles to their ideas.
“Oh, I didn’t see the Challenge Handbook at all. I saw the Challenge prompts, and I immediately thought of some ideas and wanted to fill out the submission form.”—Alex, 15 yo.
Recommendations for Design and Content Strategy:
Help users be aware that there’s a Challenge Handbook (e.g., place the “Download Challenge Handbook” button near the page header; use the shimmer effect to attract their attention)
Provide a clear proposition for why users should consult the Handbook and follow human-centered design principles when ideating and prototyping
The Youth Innovation Challenge successfully united 950+ youths and senior policymakers from 18 Asia-Pacific countries to promote children’s rights.
Inspired change through compelling communication: I inspired change at all stages of product development by delivering compelling, written, in-person and visual presentations on my findings. I invited stakeholders to observe user sessions and leaned into user stories to illustrate findings and actionable recommendations.
Moved fast and collaborated widely: My strong ability to conduct rapid and impactful research were key in taking the product from concept to launch within six weeks. I also collaborated closely with cross-functional partners—designers, product managers, web developers, content strategists, and marketing managers—to solve complex challenges and craft powerful experiences that highlight our product’s unique capabilities to empower youth across Asia-Pacific.
Tandemic and UNICEF recognized my initiative, productivity, and quality of work through the Company Award (awarded to only two employees out of the entire company).
What I learned
Due to the aggressive timeline and large project scope, my team faced many time- and communication-related challenges when developing the website. The lead web developer was based in another country, and the time zone differences and language barriers made it difficult for me to accurately communicate my user insights and design recommendations. To overcome these issues, I illustrated my suggestions through mockups and ensured we mutually understood each other’s feedback and progress. In addition, I proactively used my CS skills to co-develop the website.