Sep - Dec 2019

Mobile device

Homeness aims to consolidate the resources available in New York City for the homeless, providing accessibility around the services in order to connect people to the services they need.

Organization: NYC Connection Initiative

My Role

UI/UX Design

UX research


Mia Xu

Baoqi Ding 

Virginia Gordon


Jonathan Meléndez-Davidson (Johnson & Johnson)

Alexandre Hennen (Johnson & Johnson)


Johnson & Johnson

(Student Project)


01. Project Overview

1. Background

67,000+ Men, women, and children are homeless in New York City.


This is a 59% increase compared to10 years ago. Although The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) annual budget is over $1.5 billion, the system isincredibly difficult to navigate.

2. Problem Statement

People who experience homelessness sleep on the street even when they have the right to shelter.


Our solution is to create an easy comprehensive resource for homeless individuals to understand their options and gain accessibility in a convenient way.

3. Deliverables

We designed a mobile app, a handbook, and a series of awareness campaigns to disseminate essential resources. The Homeness mobile app is, we believe, very user friendly and informative.

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4. Project timeline


​02. Primary Research

1.  Who is affected?

The homeless are a burdensome cost to the economy if they are not provided with resources, their ability to work and contribute will be enhanced to the homelessness.

Homeless Population
New York City has the largest population of homeless and low-income residents. 

There is a fear surrounding homeless and mentally unstable people. People may move to different neighborhoods to avoid them or contact the authorities.

2.  Where?

Crises occur in public spaces as well as facilities where homeless and low-income residents frequent such as hospitals, soup kitchens, shelters, subway, churches, streets and parks.

03. User research

1. Inquiry Plan(Research Goals)

  • Understand how public spaces can educate and help homeless individuals learn about and access resources and information.

  • Who is in need of these resources? And what is most important to our stakeholders?

  • What obstacles do low income and homeless people face when accessing the system?

  • How can education help public awareness of homelessness?

  • How difficult is it to currently navigate the system? What types of resources are out there?

2. User Interviews

According to the suggestions of Johnson Johnson advisors, we interviewed eight experts, ten stakeholders and two of the general public in order to understand opinions and collect qualitative information about requirements and conveniences.

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As this is a highly sensitive topic and difficult group of individuals to recruit, we initially had difficulty determining an interview method and recruitment tactic. 

Outreach to homeless: 

  • Self identify as homeless

  • Connections via experts in the field


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1. Interview Findings

#1  Lack of individuality and independence in programs and decision making


​​#2  Lack of safety and ownership

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#3  Difficulty in navigating and accessing the resources that are available

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"80% of NYC homeless individuals have a smart phone & acts as their lifeline."

David Spriggs

2. User Persona

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* Click to enlarge

3.  User Journey Map

Our team considered opportunities across the entire journey of looking for resources. 

4.  Competitive Analysis

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Design Goals

  • Provide accessibility and educational information around available services.

  • Build a trusting platform for connecting people to resources and communities.

5. Feedback From Stakeholders

After we reframed the problem and opportunities, we went back to the streets to verify our hypothesis.
categorized the content to help users prioritize their desired features of our product.


" The sharing feature would be a really good idea. Not everyone can know your status and resources information, so I like the idea of sharing to people and communities. "

" This would be amazing! We would love to have something like this. I think it is really important to include government document information as well as ID . It is impossible to get a job without an ID and without a permanent address it is really difficult to get one in the first place."

05. Ideation

1.  Brainstormed the experience


We brainstormed different design solutions that not only guided them to access resources but also fit their social behavior patterns and psychological activity.


2. User Flowchart

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3. Sitemap

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4. Wireframe


06. User testing

After finishing the Lo-Fi prototype, we tested this idea on two homeless people who have smartphones. They had been homeless for at  least one year.

We not only got valuable feedback on the design solution but also learned a lot about their challenges in gaining access to resources and information.

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07. Iteration & Final design


​Create user ID card

  • ​Create a user ID card and edit the user's profile in the account.

  • ​When a user applies for a service, the  provider will have access to ID card information,will look at the user's profile and determine eligibility.

Filter and quick target the resource that user need 

  • Sort the services and resources by category and user's ID Card information. ​

  • Each resource lists qualifications, distance, time, and reviews. Users can check and make decisions efficiently.

Match resource quickly and share with others

  • Users can view other users’ reviews and ratings, quickly match resources (reserve resource), and share information with others.

  • Offline access for services when users mark them as favorite.

Chat and share with others

  • Users can chat with other users and communities to receive the latest information.  ​

  • After experiencing the service, the system will remind users to share feedback and rate the service.​

08. Next step

#1  Design another portal for the registered service providers to assist  with feedback.

#2 To raise public awareness about Homeness and to conduct an MTA and NYC kiosk campaign. Each month there will be a new resource facet featured on the MTA (food, shelter, medical services, etc.)

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