American Advertising Student Awards Bronze Award

Foster

Foster is an online platform that allows foster parents to have open communication with their local and national foster community, online resources tailored to their needs, and a system of support and education.

Context

Human/Computer Interaction 

IACT 375 Fall 2019

 

timeline

10 Weeks

SEP 2019 - NOV 2019

team

Natalia McElrath

YooJeong Choi

contribution

Interviews

Ideation

UI Design

Prototype

The Problem

Foster

"Foster parents feel overwhelmed due to lack of communication, education, and support."

This project was an 10-week team project for a Human-Computer Interaction course at SCAD. During our research, we found that 50% of foster parents quit after their first placement and 83% of foster parents use social media to connect with other fosters and ask advice. Therefore, we focused our design on creating a platform that allows foster parents to have streamlined communication, resources, and support.

 

Foster Parents Want...

More community support and communication

Specialized training to better help their foster kids

More resources for their personal needs

The Solution

Foster encourages foster parents to connect with each other, offer advice, and create resources to educate the foster community. 

After various surveys and interviews we discovered that foster parents feel at loss when it comes to finding a foster community, and getting help from their social workers. By granting the foster community a platform where they can connect with their local and national community, we give the foster community a more streamline way to connect with one another, support one another, and educate one another about various scenarios that foster agencies rarely prepare the parents for. 

 

Process

Interviews & Observations

We began our research by interviewing various foster parents and former foster children to understand the foster care system and its primary issues.

Surveys

To continue our research, we posted a survey on multiple foster care Facebook groups to gain further insight into foster parents' lives and struggles. We received over 150 responses.

Secondary Research

After gaining the knowledge of foster parents' struggles and what they feel they lack in communication and community, we researched current resources that are offered to foster parents and their faults and merits.

Wire framing & Prototyping

We developing in depth wire frames and site maps for how we would want the app to function and from there created a primary prototype on Figma, a prototyping software.

User testing & finalization

After creating our primary prototype we conducted various user tests to improve our prototype. Once completed, we tweaked our design, creating a more streamline and finalized platform.

Want to see the in depth process?

What I Learned

01/

Experiment before deciding.

Sometimes, I am a little bit too detail-focused and tend to scratch ideas before experimenting with them. However, this tends to place me on a narrow path of design and doesn't encourage expansion in my design. Creating various iterations of a product and experimenting with its appearance and users' preferences helped me break out of preconceived notions of design. 

02/

Prototyping is for trial and error

While working with my team, all of whom came from far different backgrounds than I, it was difficult to see eye to eye at first, mostly when it came to design. I learned quickly that each of us thinks differently and wants different things from our design. Instead of continuing with endless debates about whether a function would be useful or possible, we eventually decided to implement each of our ideas and see which the users preferred. Though not all our ideas succeeded, the process of receiving outside feedback helped us move forward. 

03/

Research is key

The foster care system is a difficult topic to research. It differs in each state and it is difficult to gain personal insights from those in the system due to its stigmas and legal barriers. My team and I came in with a preconceived notion of what the problem was in the foster system, but after weeks of deep research, interviews, and analysis, we discovered that while our initial problem statement might have been correct, it was definitely not the most pressing problem which we learned from our research. Digging deep into research despite the difficulty of the topic allowed us to understand the foster system far more than ever before. 

04/

Understanding differs

Sometimes while working on a topic, mostly one as niche as foster care, not everyone on the team will be as passionate or fully understanding of the topic as others. In my teams case, one of my partners had no understanding of the foster system because of her lack of exposure to it. Throughout the process, my other partner and I aided her in learning about the foster system and its issues and how we could relate it to our current understanding.