Before diving into initial research, I interviewed the project stakeholders in Aggie Compass Basic Needs Center to better understand project goals, constraints, and scope. I received the following quote about user trust and mindfulness.
“Consider how a homeless student would feel confident and comfortable using the website. Remember that it impacts users' trust and UC Davis as well.”
With the help from Basic Needs Center I had acquired enough resources to begin the project's secondary research. I began by focusing on resources that current homeless students use. This helped me to understand how each organization successfully incorporated its user.
However, after doing much of this research I learned from our data that:
No way of taking real action to applying for job
Many information site that requires them to play telephone to get through
Across the platforms, it was difficult for the user to take an action to securing a job; many were just informational sites with a phone numbers. This decreases the motivation for homeless students to feel they can easily reach out.
Understanding User’s Needs
From this point, I had gathered enough data where we can start to narrow our focus to pin point their potential pain points and what they need to succeed.
I wanted to truly understand what these students were going through on a daily basis. One thing I didn't account for is how hard it would be to get in contact with homeless student due to the sensitivity of the issue. This was tricky!
I reached back out to the Basic Needs Center to see if they might have any students that would like to talk about their current struggles with homelessness, and to my surprise they got back to me a week later with 2 homeless students who had some ideas on ways to improve the homeless network.
One student told me:
“I sleep in my car, and I can sometimes get a shower at the fitness center... the hardest part about being in this situation is not having a physical address. It's near impossible to work without one.”
The other student talked about their current situational struggles:
“Even though there’s financial aid, and (some) school supplies offered for my situation, I would really like to have a bit of extra money to enjoy my college years.”
From this I learned:
They felt there was no space on campus that catered to their job insecurities.
They will take any type of job roles if there are availability that catered for them.
which suggest a "gig" network platform could be better over a full time job since it's easier for the business end to secure partnerships, while also not needing a physical address for the user.