What is the Creative Jam?
Last week, Adobe hosted their a Creative Jam, a weekend-long event where teams work to address a project brief provided by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. I participated in the jam back in 2019, and was expecting a similar structure. For those unfamiliar, the Creative Jam normally takes place in-person where participants create a concept based on a theme set by the event judges. At last year’s Jam in Los Angeles, the theme was “A Little Bit Spicy.” The open-ended theme gave way for a variety of ideas, from food apps to body modification. Because the event was only three hours, participants had to figure out how to use Adobe XD if they didn’t already know, ideate, and design within a short span of time.
This Year’s Jam
This year, the event brought in the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, or CZI, and provided participants with a project brief to address one of the crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic: lack of resources for farmworkers. According to the brief, “farmworkers are the invisible frontline labor force of a country’s food supply. While many nations are reeling from the economic shocks of the pandemic, farmworkers — the vast majority being immigrants — make sure that we don’t go hungry. Many of them do not qualify for government stimulus packages, making it critical that they get access to safety net services like legal aid, healthcare, housing aid, counseling and/or food distribution.”
The goal was to create an app that would address the following criteria:
And nice-to-haves for the app experience included:
As for the core UX requirements, the app must have:
Along with addressing the project brief, we also had to use the assets and branding guidelines of CZI’s mock organization, International Consortium of Farmworkers. The pre-established logos and branding allowed us to dedicate our time to brainstorming and considering what are the best ways to address the brief, as opposed to concentrating on the UI and visuals.
Adobe and CZI presented the Creative Jam on Thursday, May 14, where participants tuned into a live kickoff event that revealed the project brief. My partner Alexandra and I spent the rest of Thursday coming up with questions, concerns, ideas, user flows, and paper sketches to share with each other in a FaceTime on Friday morning.
Initial questions we had from the project brief was how to ensure buy-in and safety for the farmworkers. Since many are likely undocumented, they may feel uncomfortable registering their information during the app’s sign-up process. Registering in-person at an office likely provides a stronger sense of trust than an app experience. I also wondered how might we design a tool for people who may not necessarily be familiar with mobile experiences in case they do not normally use smartphones.
During our call, Alexandra, as a UX strategist and conversation designer, suggested the brilliant idea of incorporating a chatbot in the app. I thought this was such an innovative addition to an app experience that would essentially be a news feed and a list of resources that farmworkers need (legal aid, healthcare, housing aid, counseling and food distribution). The chatbot would help people navigate access to services by breaking down the information into simple questions to guide the user. A chatbot would better imitate an actual interaction that a farmworker would have in an office, and can connect them to a representative if they were to need further assistance.
We mapped out the beginning of a conversation with our chatbot:
Our first iteration of our tab menu was also established on this day to ensure we addressed the brief:
It was also vital that we communicated what we expected of the other person. It helped that we were both open to feedback and welcomed each other to take initiative and use our best judgment. We checked in with each other on Slack throughout our work so that new designs in our shared Adobe XD file would not confuse the other.
By Saturday, our original tab menu changed from “Services, Home, Community and Account” to “Services, Community, Chatbot, News, and Account.” We decided to make Services the default screen (it would otherwise be “Home”) because we assumed the farmworker would prioritize accessing safety net services over reading current events, even though the news would pertain to farming and aid services.
We continued with the workflow we established, with me establishing the visual language, including buttons, cards, and headers — so that Alexandra could populate them with the right content. I found out it was key to collaborate with my partner throughout the design process so that I could communicate blockers that needed a second perspective.
For example, one of the chatbot interactions presented three options, which didn’t look great if buttons were in two. My immediate thought was to change the buttons from two in a row to one option per row. As a solution, Alexandra came up with a fourth option, “Restart Chat,” which adapts to the UI while also adding another useful option for the user.
We spent the morning finalizing the UI and prototyping the remaining screens for Yuda, the name of our chatbot, inspired by the Spanish word for help ayuda. Because we started in high fidelity due to the time constraint, some UI elements had to be adjusted based on the screens for today. For example, we had to add a header element in our chat section as a way for older messages to disappear at the top once new messages were added.
It was a welcome challenge to work within the constraints of the project and deadline, as it allowed us to come up with creative solutions such as a chatbot and adding icons when they could help clarify the function of a button.
By designing for constraints — which is a low-literacy user in this case — we are also making designs more accessible for the rest of our users. Each card and tab couples an icon/image with text for maximum comprehension.
A second constraint we kept in mind were the farmworkers who migrate seasonally — even each month — to different states, and optimized for that lifestyle.
Many assumptions had to be made since we were not able to conduct user interviews or testing during the project. Besides assuming that farmworkers already trust this mock organization, we also assumed the ICFW app would be able to pull relevant information into the News section and the Community section (crowdsourced information from individual users and grassroots partners).
In the end, we ended up with a prototype that we are both proud of, and became better informed about migratory farmworkers and the increased challenges they face because of COVID-19. If you would like to learn more about farmworkers and the organizations that assist them, check out: