BELONG

Using customizable secure document tracking and storage technology to facilitate the relationship between asylum seekers and their legal council in America.

The Problem

The asylum application is a highly complex, paper-based process with life-altering consequences. 

Following the 12 pages of detailed instructions are 14 pages of forms to be hand completed in English and submitted with a packet containing multiple copies of identification, immigration documentation, legal records, medical records, news articles, photos and more.

 

Asylum seekers are in desperate need of support in organizing the legal proof necessary to complete the asylum application in the United States. Many asylees have their applications rejected because of avoidable technicalities in their submission.

HIGH LEVEL TIMELINE

2 weeks with a team to produce an MVP design for a social responsibility application.

1 week solo sprint to refine designs.

MAKE OF THE TEAM

3 UX designers. I led on user interviews, defining the target user, wireframing, prototyping and high-fidelity mockups. 

KEY GOAL

To simplify document tracking for asylum seekers in the US.

How might we support asylum seekers?

Introducing Belong, a mobile application that provides a safe place for asylum seekers to store, track, and transfer all the documentation required to support their case as they seek asylum in the United States. 

Understanding the user

Research methods:

User Interviews

Affinity Mapping

Empathy mapping

Target User Development

Through conversations with past asylum seekers, lawyers and asylum officers, it became clear that a major issue facing asylum seekers in the United States is the collection, storage and transfer of application documentation.

The conversations I had revealed a variety of pain points including: 

  • documentation gathering

  • translation services

  • emotional support and wellbeing

  • financial hardships 

In analyzing the data, document gathering and storage became a problem space to work in. Additionally, this type of document storage and transfer is very solvable with the support of technology.

User Archetype

Pain Points:​

  • Maintaining Documentation for Asylum Application

  • Knowing exactly what documentation is needed for their personal application

  • Providing appropriate documentation that proves persecution or imminent danger

  • Language barrier

Goals:​

  • Successfully submitting an application for asylum

  • Communicating effectively with an asylum lawyer

Tasks:​

  • Account Setup: Language, and account creation for new users

  • Defaults: Identify universally necessary documentation

  • Add Container: Additional documentation requirements per legal counsel

  • Upload: Digitally upload and secure copies of all documentation

  • Delivery: All or part of the documentation to a third party

Designing simple document transfer

Design methods:

Wireframing

Usability Testing

Prototyping

High-fidelity Mockups

Designing document storage for asylum seekers allowed for an exploration of material design patterns. 

My initial wireframes focused on three main features: 

  • Basic document upload 

  • Customizable tracking 

  • Bulk send 

 

After customizing the container list, the design relies on a state change to show when a container is full. As a seeker continues using the app, the list fills up and the user can multi-select which documents to send off to their legal counsel. 

Participants in my usability testing with these wireframes had difficulty perceiving the “full” container state change and understanding the send interaction. Even though participants were successful in completing the basic tasks, they often expressed a sense of confusion at these critical intersections.

Identifying these issues allowed me to focus my design iterations on clarifying those interactions in the application. 

Additionally, after a round of design critique, it became clear that the bulk email feature was not in service to the user’s needs. It was in fact, further complicating the application. Taking a cue from Google Drive, I pivoted to a sharing model, where the user could set up notifications for their legal counsel.
 

Increasing fidelity and squashing those pesky usability bugs

In my most recent iteration, I’ve brought the lawyer closer to the application through an automatic sharing feature. Much like Google Drive, this notifies legal counsel when the user uploads new documents, smoothing out the document transaction between client and counsel.

The improved setup flow includes an automatic document sharing feature. This change eliminates the need for the bulk email feature and allows the user to automatically share newly updated documents with their legal team.

Additionally, I cleaned up the upload process and included a document preview feature to help the users identify exactly what they have uploaded.

Further research is needed!

No doubt that a two week excursion into a problem space as complicated as the asylum process is not nearly enough.

 

That said, continuing on this project I would explore how technology can support interactions between legal counsel and the asylum seeker.

Next Steps:

  • Additional user research and direct user testing

  • Component design with different languages in mind

  • Design deeper flows for families and children seeking asylum

So Many Questions

  • Can the lawyer send messages to their clients through the application? 

  • Can the lawyer customize which documentation clients need to collect?

  • Can the asylum seeker print their documentation with the application?

  • Can the user track changes to their documentation in the application? 

LEARNING MOMENTS

Like what you see?

Let's chat!

Email me here or call me at 503.442.9967

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© 2019 by Ted Schaller.