Year: Spring 2020
Duration: 12 weeks
Program: Loughborough UX Design Master's Program
Project Type: Group - 6 Team Members
Role: User Research, Graphic Design, Business Model Canvas
Tools: Adobe: XD/InDesign/Illustrator
Brief: "Design a sustainable service proposition -- from a sustainable community project to a social venture, that can support members of a community in isolation and help to make people's lives better in a new and evolving world."
In March of 2020, the Loughborough User Experience Design Master's program transitioned to remote learning. Immediately following the transition, we began the course: "Service Design for Social Innovation." In groups of six, we spent ten weeks building a solid understanding of our target user, their context and the problems they currently face and could face in the future, to design a solution that creates a social value for the user, those around them, and society as a whole​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
Due to the remote nature of the project, our team made a concerted effort to foster a collaborative and creative work environment. Upon receiving the brief, we allotted time to share our individual and team goals and discuss our skillsets. Through these conversations, we were able to loosely define roles that aligned with each member's project goals. ​​​​​​​
To document the entirety of our design process from concept to fruition, we utilized the platform, "Mural" and frequent Zoom calls. As a team, we were committed to ensuring we were all on the same page throughout the project.
Life as we know it has changed significantly due to current COVID-19 and social distancing regulations. Everyday life - the activities and routines that we are used to - have changed notably, and for the vasty majority, beyond recognition. School closures have forced parents to split childcare with work responsibilities whilst also having to educate and entertain their children within the confines of their homes. Families are struggling through the pandemic. Parents are overwhelmed - juggling childcare, work commitments, teaching their children, and managing finances, all while trying to squeeze in enough hours of sleep. Children feel isolated and distant from their everyday routines and those who play an active role in this routines. Through remotely learning, children lack access to academic resources and yearn for a stimulating and engaging schooling environment.​​​​​​​
Life Dave, Sarah, Jack, Laura, and Scott are a family of five living in the suburbs of London. Sarah has a part time job at a local shop with limited hours that she balances with being a stay at home mum. As she does not earn a huge amount, she relies on state support to supplement her income. She has three children, Jack (15), Laura (13), and Scott (9), all of whom attend local schools in their town. Sarah and her husband are divorced, and Dave, Sarah's new boyfriend, lives with the family. ​​​​​​​
Due to COVID, the whole family is confined to their home, with the kids' schools remaining closed. Dave works a night schedule, which follows a "four on, three off" pattern. During the days, he balances catching up on sleep and spending meaningful time with his new family. Sarah's grocery shop is open, and due to financial stress and a lack of available staff, she is required to continue working during this uncertain time. 
To better understand our target user's goals, needs, pain points, and emotions within the context of the global pandemic, we asked initial research questions and answered them using an empathy map framework. 
• Why are the current restrictions on movement a problem for this user?
What are their current key pain points?
What future pain points might they encounter, as restrictions ease, or are re-imposed temporarily or intermittently?
What pain points might they face more permanently or long-term if the world evolves to a 'low touch' society?
In what ways could they benefit from a new sustainable community project or social venture?
After completing an empathy map to gain a basic understanding of our target user, we created two, in-depth personas to map out their experience within the context of COVID-19. With this exercise, we chose to divide the target user into two groups based on their needs. The first being Sarah and Dave (the parents), and the second being Jack, Laura, and Scott (the children).​​​​​​​
Once we organized the family's emotional experience within the general context of COVID-19, we then evaluated these emotions within an outlined user journey. We considered a complete user journey to be an entire day, from start to finish, and sectioned it accordingly. By doing so, we could address both the parent's and children's parts of the day where they experience the most prominent pain points. Through this exercise, we discovered that they most struggle during school hours - Sarah leaves for working feeling overwhelmed, the children are thrust into online school feeling isolated and behind, and Dave tries to help the kids while preparing for his night shift, feeling helpless and exhausted. 
After conducting in-depth secondary and primary research, we organized and defined a prototyping plan to best understand how we could design a concept that directly addresses the target users' pain points and needs. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we were tasked with only utilizing secondary research and our ability to co-design as a group to design for the target user. 
HMW Statements: With a clear prototyping plan and design direction, we began the brainstorming process by generating as many HMW statements in 10 minutes as possible. We then organized those HMW statements into a matrix to calibrate which proved most relevant to the target users pain points, needs, and experiences.
Drawings, Crazy 8's, Storyboards: With our HMW statements in mind, we then began to generate ideas through time exercises. These included initial drawings, crazy 8's, concept refinement, and storyboarding. Through this process, we used a voting system within the group to select the most stimulating, meaningful, and innovative solutions with which to move forward. 
Through our voting system, we used a storyboarding process to brainstorm final concepts and communicate them visually as a group. After each team member explained their idea, we combined solutions and narrowed our focus on creating an online platform to provide a solution that would benefit all of the target users, including parents and children. Through the Mural platform, we were able to sharing drawings and notes to formalize and move forward with our final concept, Upskills.
This business model canvas aims to provides a holistic understanding of our key partners and how they will engage with the Upskills service. We've recognized that incorporating safe guarding methods will ensure a safer experience for participants. Through our listed partners, we will be able to present a wide range of opportunities, activities and interests to our target user. 
Through this process, we realized that our company identifies as a Charitable Incorporated Organization (CIO), which helps explain how we provide our service to participants and how we engage with partners and the community. During this time, well known organizations and corporations have made public statements about finding ways to give back to communities in need. This includes the System of Education, which has committed to providing students with a laptop or tablet to ensure they have access to their academic opportunities. Companies like the National Lottery have committed to providing funding to communities in need. Engaging with partners like these will allow Upskills to give back to young students to provide them with opportunities to explore their passions, engage with the community and establish connections with our partners.
This customer journey map provides a clear user journey for the personas we created. It was split according to the corresponding personas, accounting for the user journeys to be significantly different from the other. For example, upon discovering Upskills, parents are likely to feel excited, as it presents an immediate relief on time constraints, reducing the pressure of needing to entertain their children. On the other hand, the appeal for the children might not be immediately recognized, but will show long-term benefits. Each user journey was broken down into five steps: aware, join, use, develop, and leave. 
This service blueprint maps out the entire process of the Upskills service delivery. It includes all of the activities that occur at each stage of the process, and highlights those performing those activities.
The stakeholder map outlines all of the people involved in creating, providing, and consuming the service, Upskills. The left side highlights those involved in the making and providing, while the right features those using the service.
This value proposition canvas shows the ways that Upskills can relieve the existing pains of our primary users, including (children) and secondary (parents/carers), and provide desired gains. Analyzing the target users' stories and their persona profiles, we have been able to understand in depth the users current situation and their desired goals.
It is important to address that this FIT will only be confirmed in a future stage in which we can prototype our solution. Through prototyping, users feel that their jobs, pains and gains are perfectly satisfied by our design solution, achieving a product-market fit.