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UX/UI | Pratt Institute

New York Cares Redesign

I collaborated with two Pratt students to redefine the New York Cares user experience, and worked with New York Care’s UX team to understand challenges, find user insights, brainstorm design strategy, and redesign the user journey.




Youth find the New York Cares current website difficult to navigate and lacks social connectivity, The website hasn ot been redesigned since 2012, and we believe it needs significant modification to its information architecture for greater discoverability and more interactivity.

Duration: Aug-Dec 2019   16 weeks

TeamLeslie Lopez, Kelsey Gallagher

Contribution: User Interview/Research, Competitor Analysis, Tree Test/Card Sort, Information Architecture, Usability Testing

How might we attract and engage teenage users on the New York Cares website?



We surveyed and interviewed three user groups of different ages. We found teens are more likely to volunteer with more social engagement and meaningful interactions. They enjoy using technology devices and like to volunteer in their fields of interests.


In the teen user group, we started by sending Google Form survey links to a Stuyvesant High School's Facebook chat group, and received 21 responses from freshmen to seniors. ​The survey was anonymous.

Teenagers expressed an interest in volunteering more.

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Their top motivations are making Friends, helping the less fortunate​and college application.


College Application

​Target User Group


Ultimately, our team chose High Schoolers as our final user group because we felt it would be most narrowed in focus. A great degree of students expressed a proclivity for volunteering either for fun or for their supplement their studies. 

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​Pain Points

Interview insights




We analyzed 10 of New York Cares’ direct and indirect online competitors. All of whom function in the capacity of providing volunteer opportunities to visitors. We hoped to help New York Cares stand out among New York volunteer sites.

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Simple Navigation

Interactive Design

Easier Location Search

Users benefit from one of form of global navigation. In contrast, having too many options overwhelms visitors. Precise navigation improves experience.

Users are more likely to appreciate interactive experiences on sites. Displaying statistics visually is more engaging and helps effectively reach audiences

A more user-friendly location search function prompts committed volunteering and helps foster a community of volunteers.



​A better way to display and structure information would increase efficiency in volunteer search and user engagement. To build a more efficient and effective site map, we started by defining the user journey with the journey of specific tasks. We decided on three main actions we would focus on: volunteer search, make a donation and view volunteer profile.


Using Optimal Workshop, we went through three rounds of testing users to revise the site map. The first round involved crafting more concise wording for our subcategories—for example, ‘Volunteer Opportunities’ in lieu of 'projects.' Following this study, our initial main categories went down from nine to seven. Then, we conducted a tree test study focused on easing the navigation of subcategories that were confusing or had overlap-for example placing “recruiting volunteers” under “Volunteer” or “Partner with Us.” 

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Card Sort

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Tree Test

Revised Site Map

​More comprehensible wording & easier navigation

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Our group constructed a mobile and desktop paper prototype to address the desires of our user group, high school students. Students prioritized making friends and brevity in their searches. Then, we tested users’ ability to locate and navigate our interactive designs. Our design of the event search and profile was well received, but we did have a few UX problems.

Paper Prototype

To save time and quickly test our ideas and the revised site map, we built a web and mobile paper prototype to learn:

  • Whether the users were able to find target information more efficiently

  • Whether the site navigation makes sense to users

  • Whether our design concepts both engages and informs users

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Users rely heavily on labeling and 

visual cues when searching for information; they understand labels and icons better when they are in consistency.

Users appreciate a clean and direct path to their target actions. They also like limiting the number of options in volunteer choices as it saves decision time.

Users enjoy the social and interaction components such as the chat, share story functions and the interactive map to "pin" their desired volunteer location.

High Fidelity


For the redesign, I focused on building a volunteer profile that engages volunteer participation and maximizes volunteer fulfillment.

User Profile

Freedom and Customization

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QR Codes


Users are able to add other volunteer friends or staff efficiently with their unique QR codes that can be accessed on the top right corner of their profiles.

Interactive Tree

Each user has an apple tree, which grows when they sign up for volunteers or engages more. The growth of the tree signifies user's growth as a contributing and valued volunteer of New York Cares.

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There is an internal chat function which users can use to communicate with volunteer friends and staff. They can stay anonymous and their online personas if they prefer. Users can choose to be volunteer friends, but not actually have to share their personal life with their volunteer friends this way.



User research with teenagers provided us with valuable insights into their needs and behaviors. Given, the opportunity we would have liked to expand our design to age 18 and above. There was a large degree of overlap in the motivations between High Schoolers and 18 - 24 year olds. I would have liked to conduct user tests to learn their perspective. 

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