Optimizing the mobile search & browse experience to increase engagement on the site
Gen Z and millennials find VolunteerMatch’s mobile site overwhelming and are looking for a way to quickly find volunteering opportunities that work with their availability and interests.
An improved visual hierarchy of the overall site, a more digestible homepage for easier browsing, and a simplified search & filter experience.
Project Type
3 months
UX Research, UI Design, Prototyping, Usability Testing


What is VolunteerMatch?

VolunteerMatch.org is a non-profit organization dedicated to help match volunteers with organizations.  

Purpose of this Project

As a group of junior UX designers, we decided to do this project to practice conducting user research, following the principles and processes of UX design, and creating high fidelity designs. As users of VolunteerMatch, we were interested in assessing the mobile site to better understand how others interact with it and see if they face the same usability problems that we encountered.

User Demographic

Our demographic focus for this project was Gen Z and young Millennials. Gen Z is known as “philanthrokids”. They are mobile first, born in the technology boom, are interested being in leaders and want to make a difference. They may also be social media influencers or easily influenced, looking to gain experience in various career fields, have short attention spans, and more visually driven. 

Project Scope

We worked on this project for 3 months. We are not working for or directly affiliated with VolunteerMatch, we simply wanted to apply design thinking principles to solve design problems.

Heuristic Analysis 

We kicked off the research phase with a heuristic evaluation of VolunteerMatch’s mobile site using Jakob Nielsen's 10 general principles for interaction design. We listed out the features of the site that we thought violated those principles and used them to generate the tasks for our usability testing.

Usability Testing

We wanted to determine whether users’ pain points aligned with the findings from the heuristic analysis and discover any other pain points they may have.

The tasks were as follows:

  1. Find an opportunity that interests you and let the organization know you’re interested in volunteering.
  2. Find an opportunity on a weekend where you can use a certain skill that you have.
  3. Look for a virtual opportunity and save it for later. Where do you think you would go to find the items you’ve saved?
  4. Find a group volunteer opportunity.
  5. You want to volunteer at the end of January. Find opportunities within those dates.

Key Findings

We conducted 10 usability tests and found that users biggest pain points were:

  • The amount of irrelevant content on the homepage and throughout the site
  • Too many filtering options in the search and no way to see which ones or how many have been selected

Demographic Research & Proto-Persona

After usability testing the current site, we did some research on who volunteers in general. Though the largest age group that spends time volunteering falls into the Baby Boomer category, we determined that they are most likely not using a site like VolunteerMatch to find opportunities, especially during a pandemic where they are more at-risk. We decided that younger millennials and Gen Z would be the targeted audience for our redesigned mobile site.

Competitive Analysis

During the user research phase, we identified essential features through comparing VolunteerMatch to similar organizations' websites and apps.

Sketching & Ideating

After gathering all of our primary and secondary research, it was time to begin sketching. Each team member began exploring ideas individually to solve some of the pain points revealed through testing.

Wireframing & Heat Mapping

After determining which key features to focus on from the sketches, we all took our ideas into digital wireframes. From there we utilized the heat mapping method by placing dots on everyone's wireframes to vote for the screens and features we thought best solved the issues. We then divided up the work for who would do which screens moving into the low-fi prototype. 

Usability Testing Our Prototype

The tasks included: 

  1. Find an opportunity to help with COVID-19.
  2. Find an opportunity on a weekend where you can help an organization with their social media. 
  3. Look for a virtual opportunity and save the opportunity for later 
  4. We removed the volunteering with a group due to the nature of the pandemic)
  5. You want to volunteer on the morning of February 27th. Find an opportunity on that date.

Next we recruited 5 Gen Z users between the ages of 19-23 to conduct the tests with. Overall the users had positive feedback, had were able to easily navigate through the website. 

Mood Board & UI Kit

I compiled a quick mood board of images that fit well with the brand and the colors that we pulled from the website. I then took on the responsibility of creating a mini UI kit so that we could all work together on the high-fidelity design and be sure that it was cohesive across all of the screens. Each team member was able to reference the typography, color, and visual style guidelines and together we created a beautiful high-fidelity prototype.

High Fidelity Designs

Using the UI kit, we worked together to transform the low-fidelity screens into high-fidelity, adding color, images, and new icons to enhance the mobile experience. It was extremely important that we add these things as well as a clearer hierarchy, as our target audience is very visual, spending much of their time on social media.

Improvements to the landing page
Improvements to the search page

Outcomes & Lessons Learned

One of the key insights discovered was that many volunteering platforms have difficulty keeping users engaged on their platforms. More than one of our users indicated that they had used volunteer websites once to find an organization and then never used it again. 

Research also backs up these findings. According to the last Bureau of Labor report, most volunteers are involved with either one or two organizations—72.0 percent and 18.3 percent respectively. 

If we had time to continue working on this project, a few ideas that we would explore are gamification and ways to keep volunteers engaged. A few concepts we had were:  

  • Competing in drives to raise money or hit volunteer hour goals. 
  • Leaderboards with volunteering hours
  • Ability to earn badges
  • Adding a community or social aspect

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