Helping local governments improve public sector working conditions and citizen quality of life by supporting innovation pilot management.
Problem & Solution
The majority of cities throughout the United States currently have poor or non-existent processes for effectively managing innovative startup pilot projects attempting to solve civic challenges. UrbanLeap’s web application supports city representatives at all levels to better manage entire pilot processes, from proposal to completion.
A secondary benefit of the product is that it indirectly influences organizations to implement streamlined departmental processes for overall project management. Our goal with the platform was to improve a dashboard web app to meet the needs of a diverse set of users working in complex bureaucratic environments.
We conducted a competitive analysis to better understand market needs and expectations, as well as features that were necessary to solve users’ problems and address their pain points. There aren’t necessarily any direct competitors to the product at this time, but similar products on the market that offer some parallel features.
Usability Testing and Interviews
I joined the co-founder and CEO of UrbanLeap in multiple onsite and remote interview and usability testing opportunities with various cities across the United States and Israel. At times testing was done with mid-fidelity mockups, while at other times, we used an abridged InVision prototype.
I also interviewed several potential users who identified as project managers, chief innovation officers, department managers, and other roles to better understand their biggest pain points in managing incoming proposals, determining which pilots to accept, and tracking live pilots to completion.
Task & System Flows
Through user interviews and usability testing, I developed both simplified and advanced user task flows for different roles within the municipal structure. The client requested a modified task flow that integrated system components to account for both city employee and vendor needs.
In addition to designing task flows, I also developed eight text-based personas, at the request of the client. Near the end of the project, we prioritized and emphasized the critical needs of project managers, chief information officers, and vendors.
Users & Audience
The primary users of UrbanLeap are project managers within city governments. The platform offers process flows, features, and pilot data that would also be accessed and potentially updated by department managers, CTOs, CIOs, CPOs, attorneys, mayors, and innovation vendors.
UrbanLeap has future plans to also allow the public to access pilot information to keep citizens informed and engaged in their city’s improvement projects. Users also expressed interest in a public marketplace where city representatives will be able to see what other municipalities’ pilots and accomplishments to help promote innovation and amicable competition.
Role & Responsibilities
My responsibilities included gathering user insights regarding the task flows, functionality, features, and visual design of the platform. In the low-fidelity wireframing process, I participated in modifying the user interface to improve comprehension and usability. Once the project advanced to mid-fidelity, I prioritized research efforts to answer user-centered questions to continue to guide the product and visual designers in their iterations.
The MVP was developed over the span of approximately nine weeks. We required the assistance of the cofounders to help recruit users for interviews and usability testing, which affected scheduling and iterations. Perhaps the most challenging task was distilling the convoluted processes and procedures of local governments into more manageable steps to allow users to be successful and pleased with their outcomes in using the platform.
My primary deliverables for UrbanLeap were task flows, personas, interview transcripts, interview and testing synthesis grids, and final summary documentation recommending prioritization of short-term goals and considerations for long-term development.
Outcomes & Lessons Learned
We designed an MVP to support UrbanLeap’s continued efforts in development and user testing to bring the product to market with city governments. The platform is now being used by multiple municipalities as it continues to evolve.
In reflecting upon my role and contributions to the MVP, I gained a deeper understanding of my research approaches, team cohesion, and defining both user and business needs.