Case Study: eXclusive Services (SWOGC)

The goal of Southwest Ohio Givecamp (SWOGC) is to deliver a non-profit with a website, app, database (whatever they need, digitally) over the course of one weekend. It was a fantastic experience. The opportunity to work with non-profits from all over Southwest Ohio was a humbling experience. These groups are saving lives and making a substantial impact all over the region so the pressure was on to deliver solutions worthy of their significance.

While I jumped around between a couple of projects during my time at Givecamp,  I primarily focused on a project for a group called eXclusive Services. eXs provides a handful of vital services to those struggling with addiction in the Cincinnati area. They are also the only group in the Cinci area providing primary care medical services alongside addiction services. The eXs team was wonderful and when they cited their need for a UI/UX designer, I was happy to jump headfirst into helping them build a solution.

Below I’ll detail the project and our eventual solution as well as my own role throughout the project.

The Problem to be Solved:

eXs needed a new, modern website to help communicate the services they offered to their potential clients.

The site would need to be easy to update as the eXs team had no easy way to update their old site in its current state.

The eXs team was also looking to update some of their branding to be more versatile.

Solution:

The solution we landed on was to create the eXs team a new WordPress site. WordPress would afford us the flexibility to quickly design and develop a solution that was powerful enough to encompass the full scope of the new site we were designing but also give the eXs team a simplistic CMS to make any changes to the site going forward.

Limitations:

Building a full site in a weekend certainly creates a challenge. Every second is vital when running on such a tight timeframe. Our small team size, while advantageous for shared understanding, also required our skill sets to be stretched to create the needed solution.

Team:

Having such a delightful and talented team made the pressure of delivering a great solution in the timeframe of a weekend not only possible, but a lot of fun too.

Mac (Myself) – Design

Beverly & Suraj – Developers

Markku – Project Manager

Lakshmi, Erin & Ron – Forms & Additional Dev

Tracy & Sean – eXs Team

swogcteam
L-R: Sean, Tracy, Erin, Beverly, Mac, Suraj, Markku, Lakshmi, Ron

Activities Responsible:

Getting a whole site off of the ground in the span of a weekend gives an excellent opportunity as a designer to build upon a variety of skills.

My first role as a designer on the project was to work with the eXs team and Markku, the project manager, on understanding the scope of what we were building. The eXs team came to SWOGC prepared and with already validated assumptions of their user base’s needs which helped us quickly get an idea of what exactly we would need to build and (more importantly) what we could put aside and not spend time building. This involved drawing out rough sketches of UI possibilities and charting out a site map.

After turning our story mapping session into a Scrum board, my next task consisted of creating rough wireframes of each view we were looking for. I took these wireframes and turned them into a clickable prototype using Marvel which allowed our team to get a really solid visualization of the solution and get fully aligned before we even wrote a line of code. These wireframes would continue to be tweaked as we revised our solution.

As our developers began working on setting up the backend of the site, I began working with the eXs team on developing some new branding for the site. I am not a logo designer, but I have an eye for consistency and decided to spin up a very simple text based logo using Roboto Slab from Google Fonts. Add in a couple of lines on top and bottom of the text and you’ve got yourself a versatile logo system.

exsblackexswhite

We also determined the site would use the Roboto Slab font for headers and Open Sans for body text. Nothing beats a FREE serif / sans-serif font pairing right? After we grabbed some colors that the eXs team had already been using, we felt we had a solid branding put together. I then pivoted back into working on translating our wireframes into high fidelity mockups.

I built our high fidelity mockups directly on top of the wireframes that had already been made. This allowed me to update our clickable prototype on Marvel in real time. This was my first time using Marvel as prototyping tool and it won’t be the last. I love the snappiness and speed of Marvel’s editor and it’s Sketch plugin works wonderfully.

exshome
Hi-Fi Mock of eXs landing page

With high fidelity mockups in hand, the developers went to work coding them into reality. Some difficulties here were encountered in battling our selected WordPress theme, but with all hands on deck testing the site as it came together our team was able to quickly and efficiently tackle bugs and fixes. Getting a refresher on the joys and terrors of WordPress development is always fun.

We also worked with the eXs team to find content to fill the site. The eXs team is working to get a photographer into their facility to get some personalized content onto the site. But until then, we decided upon some great, royalty free stock photography. Thanks Pexels!

With the final hours of our weekend long race to the finish, we squashed bugs, optimized for speed and tested, tested, tested.

Lessons Learned:

A website is never technically finished, but we are very proud of the solution we delivered to the eXs team and I’m grateful for the experience of getting to work with them and the lessons I was able to learn.

Givecamp was a crash course in just how valuable time is to the delivery of a digital product. When you have only a few days to deliver a solution, every second matters. However, I am astounded at how much time we saved by NOT cutting any corners.

You would think that when time is so tight, skipping wireframes and going straight to hi-fi mockups would have been the way to go. However, I can’t imagine our team would have landed on as solid of a solution as we did as fast as we did had we not followed a design process that involved low fidelity mockups first.

I was also again reminded that a UX designer’s role involves wearing many hats. It’s just as important to be able to ideate and clarify the scope of a project as it is to be able to build out prototypes at a rapid pace.

Check out our finished site at xservices.org! I’m excited to return to the SWOGC next year and I highly recommend you check it out as well!

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