Emily Gilles
User Experience Design
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Building careers with better data

Client
Colorado Homebuilding Academy

Role
UX design, service design, user research

Team
Self led project as in-house designer

Timeline
About 2 months in fall 2018

 
 
 

Colorado Homebuilding Academy’s mission is to help people build successful careers in construction and, in effect, strengthen a labor-strapped industry. To fulfill its mission, the Academy must track the number of graduates who get jobs after training. Unfortunately, the organization only had current employment data for 7% of the previous year’s graduates.

 
 
Without employment data, 
the Academy was at risk of 
losing funding and opportunities to build students’ careers.
 
About 20 new students enroll in job training at Colorado Homebuilding Academy every month. They’re training for entry-level jobs in construction.

About 20 new students enroll in job training at Colorado Homebuilding Academy every month. They’re training for entry-level jobs in construction.

 
 

Exploration

 

HOW I EXPLORED THE PROBLEM SPACE:

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Student survey

I surveyed 30 students to learn how they feel about sharing their data.

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Journey mapping

I led a journey mapping meeting with the staff to learn how they’re communicating with students.

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Past data analysis

I looked at past data to see if I could find any trends.

 
 

Findings

 
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Usability

The Google form that the Academy used to collect employment data asked unnecessary and inapplicable questions. Because of this, the form took longer than necessary to complete.

Existing form used to collect employment data

Existing form used to collect employment data

 
 
 

Motivation

Employment data dropped drastically when the Academy stopped offering $300 cash incentives for proof of employment. Students had no incentives to share their data.

EMPLOYMENT DATA FROM MONTH AFTER TRAINING:

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Trigger

In our journey mapping meeting, I learned that turnover and growing pains prevented the Academy staff from asking for employment data—or triggering—in a way that’s effective and convenient for students. There was no standard procedure for distributing the employment form.

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Solution

 
 

Based on my findings, the Academy needed solutions for their usability, motivation, and trigger issues. To solve this data problem holistically, I designed solutions for each of these areas.

 
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Form redesign

The Academy’s existing method for collecting employment data was a 19-question Google Form. I improved the employment form by:

  • removing questions that weren’t necessary for measuring outcomes

  • rewriting questions using a clear, conversational tone

  • using survey logic to hide inapplicable questions

  • building the form in the client’s CRM tool to reduce data entry time and to integrate the form into the Academy’s website

 
 

OLD QUESTION FLOW

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NEW QUESTION FLOW

I removed questions that weren’t necessary for getting new funding or helping students with their careers. Then, I used survey logic to make sure students only see questions that are applicable to them.

I removed questions that weren’t necessary for getting new funding or helping students with their careers. Then, I used survey logic to make sure students only see questions that are applicable to them.

 

OLD FORM

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NEW FORM

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Incentive plan

I proposed an incentive plan that is:

  • affordable for the organization

  • appealing to funders because Home Depot giftcards can be used to purchase tools for the students’ careers,

  • easier for the Academy team to distribute because the e-giftcards are sent through email, and

  • more robust for outcome measurement because the plan tracks job retainment by incentivizing students throughout the year after graduation.

 
 
Now, students receive up to $125 in Home Depot giftcards just for completing short employment forms.

Now, students receive up to $125 in Home Depot giftcards just for completing short employment forms.

 
 
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Service blueprint

The understaffed Academy team was having trouble distributing the employment forms in a timely and effective manner. I designed a service blueprint which includes all tasks each team member needs to complete throughout the entire student journey. This tool trains new employees and helps the team streamline tasks so students receive triggers when it’s time to collect employment data.

 
 
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The results

 
 

In the quarter after this redesign, the Academy was able to measure the outcomes of their services more accurately and report their success to funders with more confidence.

 

Current employment data

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With this better data, the Academy is now able to help students not just get a job, but keep a job. Students have five opportunities—instead of just one—to share their employment status with the Academy. For graduates who struggle retaining jobs, the organization connects them with services like transportation, housing, and childcare.

 
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Reflection

 
 

The best part of working for a nonprofit is that the bottom line isn’t making money—money is just the means towards solving a human problem. By building the capacity of Colorado Homebuilding Academy, I helped build the careers of hundreds of people. That’s why I’m so proud of this work.

The most difficult part of nonprofit work is dealing with constraints. If I had more time and money to continue this experiment, I would propose:

  • automating the distribution and incentives as much as possible

  • simplifying the service blueprint so it’s more flexible for team members

  • experimenting with additional methods for asking form questions