Developing a Learning platform for Policy and Advocacy

By Joy Wambui
Cross-Post
  Published 26 Jun 2019
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Innovation forChange

Innovation for Change (I4C) is a global network of people and organisations who want to connect, partner and learn together to defend and strengthen civic space and overcome restrictions to their basic freedoms of assembly, association and speech.

The Challenge

I4C, over time, has encountered a number of problems in the policy and advocacy work. They had challenges in measuring the impact of their work. I4C needed to find a way for members to evaluate their position and identify areas that they need to improve in. In close relation to that, members of I4C did not have a place which they could find information on policy and advocacy curated centrally. They would have to spend a lot of time scouring the internet in search of valuable information. Also, the civic space over time had been decreasing and the I4C team needed to find a good channel to facilitate civic space sustenance and growth.

I4C approached the iHub Software Consulting team with these problems.

iHub Software Consulting

iHub Software Consulting (iSC) is a design thinking (human-centered design) and software consulting company that specialises in building products for the African market. We work with startups, corporates, and NGOs across Africa to help them realise the value of human-centered design as a problem-solving approach and to leverage the power of technology to solve some of their most pressing problems.

Before work starts

The first thing was to ensure that we really understood the needs of the client. That is why we held a design kick-off session. We met with the I4C team and discussed the ultimate goals of the organization. The reason for this was to glean the core needs of the organization based on the goals identified. We asked:

  • What does success look like for I4C?
  • What are the long term goals for I4C?
  • What are the short term goals for I4C?

The Lean Canvas

Lean Canvas is adapted from The Business Model Canvas and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Un-ported License.

Image obtained from https://leanstack.com/leancanvas

We conducted a lean canvas session where we were able to identify:

  • Problems: These are the issues faced by the organizations in the policy and advocacy space. Ideally, one should aim to list their top 1- 3 problems in order to have a streamlined area of focus.
  • Existing Alternatives: This is how those organizations currently solve their problems
  • Solutions: These are suggestions to solve the problems outlined
  • Key metrics: These are the statistics that will be used to measure the success of the solutions when implemented
  • Unique Value Proposition: This explains why users should choose your product. This section should be expressed in one encompassing statement
  • High-level Concept: This is the general idea of the main solution
  • Unfair Advantage: This is what you possess that ensures that users will use your product as opposed to your competitors or other existing alternatives.
  • Channels: This is how the solution will be disseminated to the target users
  • Customer Segments: These are the people that are targeted by the solution
  • Early Adopters: These are the people who will be the first to use the product before others join the bandwagon

The Proposed Solution

The I4C team wanted to have a platform where members and non-members alike could continuously assess capacity gaps and access resources to address these gaps. The platform should also be able to promote knowledge sharing and exchange and improve access to advocacy tools and resources.

Work begins

Based on the needs of I4C, our designer Elizabeth Kagimbi designed high-level wireframes and shared them with I4C using the Invision Prototyping tool. We used the helpful feedback gained to iterate and improve on the designs.

First wireframes for the I4C platform on Invision

We did internal testing as a team, our Quality Tester on this project Ngaira Brian taking lead on this before sharing with the I4C team.

Iterations made and resulting wireframes on Invision

 

Upon approval of the designs, our developer Ansel Melly got to work on the implementation of the minimum viable product.

Learning

Ngaira Brian with support from Ansel Melly took I4C future administrators of the platform through a session of learning how to use the dashboard. The main activity being uploading resource content.

Testing with the users

Photo by Jos Alejandro Cuffia onUnsplash

Remote Focus Group discussion

Why the FGD?

  • It is good for quickly understanding the user’s perceptions of a product.
  • It is possible to gain a lot of diverse ideas as the synergy of the group discussion might spark new ways of thinking which may not come up in individual interviews.

This, however, may be a double-edged sword as the group may suffer from Group Think. It takes a skilled moderator to ensure the conversation remains open and does not revolve around one particularly vocal member or idea.

I4C users are spread across Africa. We facilitated two remote focus group discussion group sessions across two time zones to cater to both our Anglo-phone and Franco-phone users.

Results

Weeks of designing, development and testing in an iterative cycle brought us to this https://we-engage.net/

Deployment and Handover

The site was migrated from the staging platform to the live site. The backend of the wordpress site has JetPack used for tracking site stats.

JetPack: Site Stats for the I4Cwebsite

It doesn’t end there…

Effective user-centered product development requires stakeholders to find ways to improve the product based on user feedback.
 We’re currently working to address user needs revealed during testing by incorporating the additional features recommended in the second development phase of this project.

Looking forward to it!


Joy Wambui is a UX Researcher and Project Manager at Tanasuk Africa (also DBA iHub Software Consulting) a design thinking and software consulting company based in Nairobi, Kenya.

Joy is passionate about using technology to positively change people’s lives.

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