Four Kitchens

Please tell us about the difference-making experience generally and how it’s caused positive outcomes, helping us understand what makes this example noteworthy or exceptional.: 
“World Pulse has overridden all of the exclusions and seclusions [found in our communities] and bonded us. World Pulse is the light in the crack in the doorway. The more secluded women are, the more active their profiles are. You will see more passion, more involvement.”
World Pulse Community Member
World Pulse is a social network that uses the power of digital media to connect marginalized women worldwide and bring them a global voice. World Pulse provides a platform for safe communication for women who live in societies where they experience social seclusion. When World Pulse approached Four Kitchens to redesign and reimagine their existing website, it was clear that World Pulse had a bold vision. Through an exhaustive pre-Discovery phase, Four Kitchens helped World Pulse define their digital vision, and fundraise over $400,000 for the development of “World Pulse 2.0.”
Since the core audience of the website is women who live in communities where they are often marginalized, Four Kitchens had to remain sensitive to their unique needs in the process of designing this website. As a result, Four Kitchens embarked on an extensive user research phase in order to understand the audience to better serve their very specific needs.
Four Kitchens interviewed stakeholders and end users throughout the development of the project to assure user needs were being met through every stage. The three main conversations with World Pulse’s global audience covered 1.) Broad interviews, 2.) Card sort tests and 3.) Wireframe and prototypes.
Because of World Pulse’s international audience, Four Kitchens spoke to users to not only get their take on their experiences on the current site, but to also find out how they access the site, what devices they use, whether they log on from home or work, what else they access on the Internet, etc. Right up there with checking their email and Facebook first thing in the morning, many users shared that they check the World Pulse site as well. In their research, Four Kitchens found that a majority of users were engaged in both World Pulse and Facebook because they perceived Facebook to be a platform where privacy could be compromised: “these are human rights activists, as much as we want to encourage the sharing of ideas, we really need to think about people’s security and safety,” said one of the interviewees.
Through these user interviews, Four Kitchens learned that some of the target users are not allowed to be online due to the communities they live in. The goal of World Pulse is not to make all information public, but to give women a voice they might not have had otherwise while staying in control of their own privacy.
Since the audience for World Pulse is truly global, this project is extremely different from a typical site that is accessed by Americans from their more powerful computers and high speed Internet access. During user interviews, Four Kitchens learned that the World Pulse site needed to be especially mobile-friendly and sensitive to the needs of users in areas with lower bandwidth.

For the card sort test, Four Kitchens conducted a survey with users to see how they would design the information on the site. The design team gave the women the titles of different sections, and learned how the users would organize them. The design team was able to learn what users would group together, instead of having the Four Kitchens team just impose clumped grouping without having that key insight.
For wireframe and prototype usability testing, Four Kitchens scheduled screen sharing calls with end users. They asked the women to go through tasks they would normally do on the site, and try out prototypes of functionality and designs. This last round of testing further allowed Four Kitchens to make another round of design refinements based on the users’ needs while reviewing how they perceived the interface. The design team was able to get an understanding of the users’ expectations and reactions to how they wanted the site to work. The usability tests and interviews with users were key to ensure that all those who wanted to participate had easy and safe access. It all came back to the goal of making it a truly user-centered design.
Lastly, the look and feel of the site was especially important to the user base. A large appeal of the previous website was the feminine look and feel because many of the women in the World Pulse community live in cultures that are oppressive towards women or extremely male dominated. As one of Four Kitchens’ interviewees pointed out, “When I am on World Pulse, I don't have to fear what my father, brother, or husband says. Anything we are associated with has to be approved by the male counterparts in our lives.” Four Kitchens remained faithful to this sensibility in the redesign. As a result, Four Kitchens designed a powerful and vibrant visual language order to make the user base feel further empowered. The style guide was open sourced and is available at the following site:
Because of the amazing nature of World Pulse’s global mission, the Four Kitchens team had several unique experiences to learn from users beyond typical design research. One example that stood with the team was a user who said that women are in complete cultural seclusion where she lives. However, because of World Pulse, she has these incredible opportunities to talk to people she normally would not have, including just the simple interaction of sharing her design feedback.
Launched in January 2015, World Pulse’s new site further enhances the nonprofit’s mission of giving a stage to female leaders to collaborate on solutions to today’s pressing issues. The site is part of a social movement that connects women in developing nations to the outside world, and it directly impacts the lives of the people that use it.
The positive feedback on the new site is further praise to World Pulse’s drive to provide a safe place for women to go online – particularly for those who do not have a physical safe place to go where they live, they now have the safe online community.
What are the key ways the design of the solution’s user experience influences its success?: 

The World Pulse site is the first of its kind in the nonprofit Drupal sector. 

What user research did you use or perform in designing the solution, and what were the most interesting effects of that research in the solution’s design?: 
Recruitment: The client organization helped us by providing a list of current users and stakeholders that might be willing to participate in user research interviews or usability tests. Because the World Pulse organization is so supportive and has such deep engagement with the community, we found that most of the users we contacted were excited to help out and be involved further with World Pulse. Many of the participants already felt gratitude for the work that World Pulse was doing in the world and were very happy to give back their time and energy to the organization. It was really an ideal recruiting situation with many folks excited about the new system and happy to help.
Interactions: The interviews were on video calls when possible and audio calls when video wasn't available for a particular user due to lack of camera hardware or bandwidth constraints. We really tried to use video whenever possible to see facial expressions and get some of that qualitative feedback and see the participant's face and gestures. The users who participated were very generous with their time and were happy to speak with our team. 
Usability sessions were conducted synchronously but remotely using a video call with screen sharing. We linked the participant to prototypes on the web, and asked them to share their screen and video camera so we could see how they were interacting with the prototypes and their facial expressions as they used the prototypes. We gave them tasks and used a think-aloud protocol to get their real-time thoughts and feelings on the interface and what they were expecting to see and do on the site. We got fantastic feedback and were able to iterate quickly on how privacy controls should work so that they were both functional and user-friendly and make changes to the navigation interactions so that the navigation worked for the most users across devices of all sizes. We even had two of our usability participants join the sessions from their tablets, which was very helpful for understanding how the interface would translate to smaller screens and make design adjustments to optimize for smaller screens and touch interactions.
The list of users that World Pulse gave us to interview were very active members and leaders in the World Pulse community, and were not in danger to my or my clients' knowledge. So there were no ill effects that we know of, and in fact, I wouldn't have done the interviews or tests if I had any inkling that they were at risk or would be at risk for talking to us. It would be unprofessional and immoral on my part to do user research that might harm a participant. 
So we didn't need to work around or put anyone into a dangerous situation. It may have been even more safe for some women because we are remote and doing website research, which is probably perceived as harmless enough since we weren't physically there. The users we talked to gave us an idea of their experiences in their societies, the experiences that other women write about on the site, and their experiences with the interface but they tended to be advocates and leaders and not in danger themselves.
We are also careful to anonymize user data to make sure to preserve our participants' privacy.


Please share any quantitative, qualitative, and/or anecdotal evidence of the effectiveness of the design of your solution’s user experience in solving a pressing need.: 
It's hard to quantify user experience improvements that were done early in the design process! We are certain that the formative interviews, usability testing, and card sort surveys have positively impacted the design and navigation of the new website. Since the site launch a couple months ago, we have seen quite a few positive comments in the community on A sample of these comments can be seen on the organization founder's post on the launch of the new site: