Rapid Design for Slow Change is an optional class in the HCI/d Master’s Program that is known for two things: tight project deadlines and real-world clients. Each week, teams are given a design brief and required to present high fidelity mockups and supporting documents by Friday. We have been lucky enough to work with product managers and alumni from companies including Intel, Microsoft, IBM, and eBay.
We were tasked to design a tool for prospect researchers to improve relationships with current donors and facilitate warm introductions between the two parties. In five days, we came up with a way for researchers to connect with friends of current donors and visualize future events in that donor’s life. This work was done for Blackbaud, a global supplier of software and services for nonprofit organizations.
Early on, we recognized the need to find the core of the problem that Blackbaud was facing. By talking with researchers at Blackbaud, we discovered the insight that cold introductions were often caused by a lack of knowledge of a donor’s present and future situations. For example, the donor may be scheduled to attend an upcoming benefit event that could positively influence their willingness to donate. Our design of a timeline addressed the question we previously constrained ourselves to solve: how to turn cold calls into timely connections.
Inspiration can come from the strangest of places. In my experience, it is important to expose oneself to designs that both represent best practices and innovative, new directions. Although the final design reflects little visual similarity, our team was heavily influenced by how the road trip planning site Roadtrippers.com plots future events. The timeline itself was graphically inspired by Acorns, a personal finance app we researched during a previous RDSC project.
Time is a Resource
Guided by Exemplars
Communicating the Design
To communicate the tool, we broke the program down to its main component parts: Donor Events, Days Since Last Donation, Major Events, and Request Donation notifications. We chose to show how these four alerts work together by presenting a scenario in which a prospect researcher used the system to learn exactly when to contact her donor and what information is relevant to their conversation. Secondary features, such as a graph of previous donations and the donor’s personal network, were also explained through the narrative. Despite a robust set of primary and secondary attributes, we focused on providing a clear and compelling rationale for the core of the design.