The UNICEF Innovation Unit is a small start-up like team that supports UNICEF programmes on the ground and the organization at large through integration of technology, design thinking and partnerships with the private sector and academia (excerpt from UNICEF Innovation website).
The Innovation Unit wanted to improve communication between UNICEF country offices around the world. The problem was that country offices found it difficult when learning about projects that other country offices were working on. This resulted in different offices investing valuable resources on similar types of projects.
I was the Design Lead on the UNICEF Innovation and responsible for hiring designers and developers for the projects as well as leading the project. I set the goal and objective for the project as well as created the plan to develop this project. The team under me included a UX designer and a project owner/analyst tasked with creating a vision document and prototype. I also hired developers to work on the second round of prototyping and oversaw their work throughout the process.
What did we do and how:
I had to work with limited resources, so the project owner/analyst and I worked with UX designer to draft a plan for how we can develop a communication tool. We quickly developed a proposal and used existing tools such as Google Forms and CartoDB to prototype first, collected feedback and created the second version of the product.
I worked with the designer and the project analyst to review all the potential ways of collecting and displaying the UNICEF Innovation Projects around the world. I helped to work on a mock-up of potential design.
After research, we decided to use the Google Forms to collect the project information from different country offices. To test out the prototype with a small set of users, our team first worked with the Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office (ESARO). Office workers working under the ESARO regional lead filled out the forms which allowed us to link the data to the CartoDB map.
Once the country offices in Eastern and Southern Africa saw the map, they were excited about providing more information. Since they got an immediate response (dot on the map) when they inputted the data, it motivated them to add other projects. This immediately showed the value of the prototyping and data based approach.
Second round prototype
When the people at UNICEF started to share the map, other offices around the world wanted to be part of the project. Once we got everyone on the project, we collected feedback from the users.
I hired two developers to work on the second iteration of the map and made changes based on the feedback we received from the users. I guided them through the design and provided them with feedback and direction.
The map isn’t online anymore, but variation of the map was used on UNICEF website when they were promoting innovation works in UNICEF. Also, it taught the team that using open source software to test the design before implementing full version is an effective way to work with limited resources.
Additionally, we provided country offices with Innovation Mapping analysis every week. This type of analysis brought value to the map and made connections that people could not see before. We did not get to automating the analysis, but the update was a good start to exploring potential analytics in the future.