A responsive  website designed  to provide support for Veterans transitioning into civilian life, through peer to peer Veteran mentoring and customized transition support tools.

View Prototype
Project Proposal
Interview Discussion Guide
User Interviews
Competitor/Comparator Analysis
Feature Prioritization
Personal Development
Journey Mapping
Problem Statement
Design Studio
User Flows
Usability Testing
Rapid Prototyping
Brendon Hoover
Christian Torres
Cynthia Santiago

My role
UX Researcher
UX Designer

4 week sprint
December 15th 2020 through
January 12th 2021


The Opportunity Space

Project ExFil was the internal proposal for a solution to a problem space of our team's choice. We defined and proposed the Veterans' Wellbeing space to our internal stake holders as the area we would like to research and design for.

Our Team

Our team consisted of a group of 3 UX Designers: Christian Torres as the Scrum Master & UX/UI Design, Myself as UX/UI Design & Prototyping, Cynthia Santiago as UX/UI Design.

This case study will walk you through how and what our team did to research, define, synthesize, and deliver for the final product.

If you would like to understand more about the why behind my design process, my writing style, or to view the full retrospective article, checkout my Medium.

Discovery Phase (Research)

•  Screener Survey
•  User Interview Discussion Guide
•  User Interviews

• Competitor/Comparator
•  Competitive Matrix
•  Affinity Mapping

Flow and Process

Once we received approval to begin the researching the problem space we moved directly to interviews with any Veteran that was willing to speak with us.

We interviewed 15 Veterans and used the data from the interviews to create an Affinity Map. This showed us the common themes affecting interviewees, primary of which was the hardship that transitioning into civilian life had on their overall mental and physical wellbeing.

Finally, we used our insights from the Affinity Mapping to group the observations taken from the user interviews, then elicited “I” Statements and Insights that would show us the pain points and frustrations Veterans experience.

The Affinity map above shows the groupings of observations, insights and “I” statements used to inform our Problem Statement.

The Research Takeaways:
•  Veteran's want choices in how they address their mental and emotional.      wellbeing needs
•  The transition process from the military to civilian life requires greater depth      and breadth of transition training
•  A lack of understanding in how the systems works results in Veterans learning      about resources from other Veterans
• Veterans prefer the quality of care from the VA because of its understanding     of how to care for veterans

Define Phase (Synthesis).

Flow and Process
The Define phase kicked off with the creation of our Problem Statement which would allow us to pin point exactly what problem inside of the Veterans' wellbeing sector we were trying to address with our product.

•  Problem Statement
•  Persona Development

•  Journey Map
•  Moscow Map

Service members that leave the military are often overwhelmed with adjusting to civilian life. They are given impersonalized and generic information, do not understand how to access their VA benefits, and lack the trust of a peer Veteran to Veteran connection.

Matt is unsure of what to do with the overload of VA information, the lack of training in how to access his entitled benefits and inability to understand what information is actually relevant to him.

How might we help guide Matt through the process of transitioning to civilian life?

We then crafted a Primary Persona, Matt, to act as an anchor for our empathy and allow us to put a person and face behind the problem we were looking to address.

With Matt in mind we built a Journey Map to detail the touch points, mindset, emotions and potential opportunities. The map addressed each phase of Matt's journey from wanting a different job, through researching, interviewing and securing a new job.

Next we turned our attention to determining what device to build for and the features. Based on the feedback from interviews, Veterans were using their computers to access support so we chose to go with a responsive website. We then used a MoSCoW Map to determine the features the new Veteran website must have, should have, could have, and won't include.

Our biggest take away was that we needed to provide customizable recommendations and a peer veteran network to lend support from people who had been there before.

Design Phase (Ideation)

• Design Studio
• Style Guide
• User Flow (Find a mentor)
• MidFi Wireframes &     Prototype
• Usability Test Script

• MidFi Usability Testing
• HiFi Wireframes &     Prototypes
• HiFi Usability Tests
• HiFi Mobile Page Break

Flow and Process
With our Problem Statement & prioritized features in mind, we set off into making an initial sitemap to wrap our heads around how we planned on incorporating the features.

Next, we conducted a Design Studio session for the home page to help us flush out the basic layout and positioning of elements in LowFi sketches.

The Design Studio gave us a mutual understanding of the look and feel so we compiled this into a Style Guide that would keep us aligned as we moved into higher fidelity wireframes.

To give us a clearer picture of what pages needed to be designed, we pivoted to a Site Map, then converted the LoFi Sketches into MidFi Wireframes using our Style Guide and User Flow.

The MidFi wireframes were then prototyped and tested on 5 users. The results of the tests were compiled, then the MidFi Wireframes were brought into HiFi Wireframe iterations as informed by the MidFi Usability tests.

Our Low Fi sketches were quickly converted them to Mid Fi Wireframes and a working prototype in order to begin user testing. We settled on the name Project ExFil because ExFil in military lingo is the process of extracting personnel from hostile territories and that felt suitable considering our attempt to get our vets back to civilian life safely.

We built out a way for Veterans to learn about mentors and sign up for an initial mentorship meeting.

Fortunately the prototype was not page heavy, and the Mid Fi mock up was ready to test quickly in order to get at the heart of what iterations would be necessary as we moved into the HiFi.

The Usability Test revealed that our information architecture was causing some confusion. The Find A Mentor CTA button was over looked by some users and most users expressed that they wanted some way to sort the available mentors by branch, location or specialty.

Next we took the findings from the tests and incorporated the changes as we moved into our Hi Fi prototype.

Deliver Phase (Iteration)

• Stakeholder Presentation
• Next Steps
• Zeplin Handoff

Flow and Process
With the Final HiFi Usability tests completed and reviewed, we were ready to deliver our Final Stakeholder presentation which brought the research, data, designs, analysis and iterations into one place. The stakeholders gave the project the green light and the project was celebrated as a success.  

For next steps we recommended:
• Build out the mobile breakpoints for the responsive web functionality
• Build out the member dashboard
• Create and assemble the Self Assessments & Progress Tracker
• Determine Mentor Verification Process

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