UX Strategy, UX Writing, UX Product Design
How I created a startup's product voice to reflect user needs & meet business goals.
Inclusive is a startup connecting individuals with intellectual/ developmental disabilities (I/DD's) to a centralized database of community classes & resources in order to improve their quality of life.
As a startup in its incubation stages, Inclusive lacked a clear & consistent product voice that accurately reflected business goals & met user needs.
After interviewing 8 potential users and the founder, I created 4 Product Principles to define Inclusive's experience identity, a.k.a., what it's trying to be to the people who will use it.
Under those product principles, I created a voice chart to help define and guide the UX content, so that the experience is recognizable, consistent, and distinct from prior negative experiences.
UX/ UI Design
August - September 2021
Shameless Self-Plug :)
"I'm quite pleased with Kim Kim's work with Inclusive. She has the ability to see & hear nuance. Not only that, she's able to humanize experiences & histories. This is one of her major strengths."
- Jillian Louallen, Founder of Inclusive
Current Solutions & Listening to the Target Users Speak
We interviewed 8 people:
6 family member, 3/6 are also brokers
1 independent individual (ASD)
I created the interview guide with 5 fellow UX designers, conducted 3 interviews, & created a Debrief document outlining key insights + patterns (making sense of the giant wall of post-its), as well as, questions to consider as we moved into the define & ideating phases.
While I didn't include this in my interview questions, it was important for me to hear the participants speaking, the language that they used, and their past experiences, especially negative ones, so as to make sure we knew how NOT to design the product voice.
All the research was gathered into patterns & insights. Key Takeaways followed.
Major Pain Points
A Lack of Support & Infrastructure in a Family's Journey with Intellectual/ Developmental Disabilities
The current solution for all 8 participants was searching Google & Facebook for resources & classes.
In the words of a Parent, Advocate, & Founder
While a fellow UX Designer created the personas to summarize our research findings, I did an additional interview with the founder of Inclusive as she is a parent of an I/DD herself and has years of experience teaching workshops to other parents of I/DDs and knew exactly what she wanted to accomplish with Inclusive.
What is your ultimate goal for the people using Inclusive's website? What do you want them to accomplish?
How have you communicated with I/DD's and their families in the past? What has worked? What didn't work?
When people come to Inclusive's website, what are the top 5 things you want them to feel? Why?
Ideas for a Voice Emerges
Key phrases that stood out to create a distinct Inclusive voice:
“We’re here so you don’t have to run even more than you already do. Take your babies and go to the class. Go live!”
“NO MORE BULLSHIT.”
"We want EQUITY & the support to achieve it."
“Find what you need and GO DO STUFF.”
"We recognize how hard it is."
"We want QUALITY. Not these ugly, clinical sites that are stressful to use & hard to understand."
Research Pt. 2
Color & Word Associations
While another session happened to ideate design solutions, 4 UX Designers, including myself, brainstormed words, color associations, and website associations to solidify branding decisions, which also helped me to brainstorm product principles, which then led to the voice chart.
“The voice chart holds a set of decision-making rules and creative guidance to make the UX content align to the needs of the organization and of the person using the experience. It also,
Helps identify what might make content better
When multiple good options, can be used as a tie breaker
Helps people move away from subjective judgements & use as external success measure
Helps align UX writing teammates"
- Strategic Writing for UX, Torrey Podmajersky
Articulating My Design Decisions
Good UX Writing Practice
All text used in the interface should always be Accessible, Purposeful, Concise, Conversational, & Clear
Majority of families felt overwhelmed by the amount they had to learn in a short period of time.
If anything is hard to use, then users are not likely to come back or find value in the info Inclusive can provide.
Majority of families expressed feeling alone. Inclusive seeks to come alongside families and support them at every stage of their journey.
To keep users coming back, increase loyalty. On the vendor side, Inclusive seeks to educate & improve communication between vendors & their I/DD customers.
One of the major pain points was having to deal with government websites & the bureaucracy to get any kind of aid even though the government sets aside money to support I/DDs.
To the founder as a parent, she felt that there was no one who knew her struggle to truly provide the help she needed.
To make personal connections with both users & vendors, relationships that keep Inclusive going & growing, which would also set Inclusive apart from its competitors.
Why Dignifying/ Empowering?
Parents told stories of negative experiences with vendors who didn't know how to treat their I/DD children. Inclusive knows what that's like and seeks to do the opposite. By being personal, Inclusive can take each person's diagnoses and habits, communicate them with vendors & communicate with parents about the vendor's training & experience.
To provide vendors with training, education, & resources to expand their business by being more inclusive.
Putting both UX Design and UX Writing skills to use:
Redesigning the Landing Page to Fit the Product Voice, Meet User Needs, & Reach Business Goals
I had already gathered so much research that I felt confident that I could not only apply the product voice to the designed pages, but also redesign the old landing page to directly address the pain points that came up often for users.
Below is the old landing page versus a quick mockup of my vision for Inclusive's simple, supportive, & empowering landing page. While new colors, logo, & fonts are still being finalized, it was helpful for the team to see how the Voice Chart applied to all aspects of Design.
The Old Landing Page
My Vision for a New Landing Page
UX Writing = Essential Part of UX Design
A Writer Learns Her Own Value
I first joined Inclusive as a UX Designer. This Voice Chart was something I just did on the side because I saw a need for it, and I presented it to the other designers, hoping that we could all align on any words in the designs, especially in our high-fidelity wireframes.
I thought that anyone could write in a certain style with enough guidance, but no training. I forgot that I had 5 years of training & practice, specifically in shaping words to create a desired experience.
After the UX designers all presented their wireframes, the founder reached out to me and said, "You need to fix the words on these pages. They sound like any other government or hospital website: aloof, too formal, & much too clinical."
I agreed to do this, but realized that every frame had tons of words, and it would require a full-time transition into the position of UX Writer. While I consider UX Writing as Designing, I had to communicate to the team what I was going to do and what I wasn't going to do, creating boundaries for myself, so as to stay productive and hit UX Writing goals.
There is still a lot of work to be done, but I'm boosted by the fact that I can bring a unique value to this team, and hopefully any team I join in the future.