In collaboration with Wolff Olins, we developed a prototype that reimagines how users can interact with the news with USA Today. As Wolff Olins closed in on their final design proposal to change the outdated USA Today logo to its new blue dot, they brought us in to help show how flexible that simple blue dot could really become, especially in an interactive environment.
The app prototype uses the now-iconic USA Today blue dot as a jumping-off point for the primary visual navigation tool – a pie chart color-coded by news topic. Users can browse using the pie chart, viewing stories by date or popularity, and dive into individual news stories as they like. Besides the fully visual navigation, the app features an expanded list-based navigation featuring headlines and drop-down menus for easy browsing
We completed the project in just 10 days, showing how our lean methodology and integrated team can build usable products quickly. We’re are often asked to experiment with unproven and innovative tech ideas through rapid prototyping and close collaboration with clients and other agencies, which helps to test new ideas before they go through a lengthy and expensive development cycle.
Our team, in partnership with Streetlives, Infoxchange, academic experts and team young people with lived experience led the effort to research, design, and prototype a new digital service for youth experiencing homelessness in New York City.
Our charge was to engage key stakeholders in creating a digital offering addressing the specific needs of youth experiencing homelessness. Our focus was creating a service that, at its core, provides meaningful, relevant, and accurate information that empowers those navigating youth homelessness. While several digital/mobile tools purport to help people address the complex situations faced while experiencing homelessness, very few have a youth-centric focus. The landscape of service offerings for this group of young people often presents a quagmire of eligibility requirements, availability, and accuracy.
We conducted six workshops and thirty-six interviews with individuals from across the spectrum of homeless youth service delivery, from youth with lived experience to federal funders to runaway homeless youth (RHY) service providers, to develop a comprehensive understanding of the youth homelessness ecosystem in NYC. A range of strategies, such as archival research to participatory workshops and individual interviews, were used to gather evidence and information about the experience of youth homelessness in NYC.
The Team framed the stakeholder engagements and conversations to identify barriers and solutions. The context for all discussions was the journey young people take from becoming homeless to transitioning out of system support. Based on their own experience navigating the space, our young people defined the journey, consisting of three stages containing nine smaller steps.
This final report provides an overview of the research activities and findings that, taken together, inform and provide the concept for a new digital service for New York City.
The recommended solution provides confidence and transparency to service users looking for the right service to meet their needs and new data for system providers and funders to accelerate and improve service provision. This solution is an ecosystem of tools and services, working together to holistically address the issues confronting youth on the verge of or experiencing homelessness. Designed to help youth navigate, find, and connect with providers in a friendly manner, it bridges the gap between those experiencing housing instability and the provider network with tools to help the provider manage intake, availability, and services. Fundamentally, it establishes a centralized, interoperable dataset that can be used freely by other parties.
To successfully drive better outcomes for young people experiencing or facing homelessness, our recommendation is supported by a range of service and system changes. These systemic changes are an essential aspect of the report, but at a high level, include:
- How to incentivize service providers to engage with the solution
- How we might use our solution to help the service system better “see” and understand itself and where issues might lie
- What we measure (and how) to determine the impact of the solution, and how this supports a positive feedback loop to ensure improved service provision
- How we engage, upskill, and retain young people with lived experience to provide support to their peers
- What concerns, e.g., privacy, data sovereignty, digital inclusion, etc., might require government support or reform for effective implementation
We establish a virtuous cycle: more and better information, enabling users to more quickly and confidently connect to provider services, more learning from the use of the platform – especially about when young people need help – and improved, more targeted services from that learning. People can be helped earlier and earlier in the cycle of homelessness, with more and better prevention services, thereby reducing homelessness.