Why Designing For Good Should Be At the Top of Your Project List
User experience is not a new term or field. It’s a crossover, a hybrid, a disciple that has many layers and functions. User experience Design looks different depending on the scope of work, the company, the product.
Designing or even assisting with design for a nonprofit is not only an excellent way to flex your design muscles and keep all those creative ideas flowing, but it’s also important.
It’s important for you as a designing to invest in projects that maybe you don’t get a ton of money or recognition out of.
Most of the time the very sites or organizations that need the help are the ones that are doing good work, for good people, and who need a helping hand. The design community is always one of give and take and dedicating some free time to help a worthy (they are all more than worthy) cause should be no different.
And here’s the thing: Why are we not making this a priority?!
Having just broken into the design field myself, I know how insane the job market can be, how hard it can be just to get your foot in the door with some companies, any companies, all companies.
When I think about why I got into UX in the first place it’s because, as cliche as it sounds, I want to change the world through design. I want to shape and create digital spaces that make life, any and all life, just a little bit easier. From grocery shopping to social networking to finding the best coffee shop in your new city, to just making a doctors appointment.
It makes sense to put the user first! It makes sense to build digital spaces in a way that not only makes sense, but that is bold in communication and feel. That is easy to navigate and delights whoever is using it.
But take a look, just a tiny little peek, at the landscapes of most non profit sites.
Most of them haven't been touched in years.
There is no design team to keep the trends current. No department heads to make sure that the mission and message of the site is on brand. No one to design a button with just the right amount of shading, no one to use design conventions to make sure that the user has a call to action, an aha! moment, or even a roadmap to find exactly what it is they are looking for.
I recently had the opportunity and the privilege of doing a compete website redesign for a non profit organization called BookHarvest and my work for them not only helped me, but it helped a cause, which is more user centered than anything product I can think of or have worked with in the recent months.
It wasn’t just a resume builder or something to put on my portfolio. It was so much more than creating wireframes and changing a website that needed a little love.
I guess my point is that within a couple of weeks I was able to take a message, meaning and some really amazing core values and make changes to a platform that not only looked good but a website and an organization that was doing good.
It didn’t take a lot of time. I wasn’t losing sleep or slaving away. I was able to create a project timeline and guide that worked with my schedule and that worked for BookHarvest.
And the result of all of those small efforts resulted in a design handoff to a developer that BookHarvest hired.
I’m not saying that we should all work for free. I’m not saying that I changed the world or even that my designs and IA will be used in the next stages of the website build.
I guess the point I am trying to make is that we, as a community, as creatives, and as budding UX designers should want to take projects like these, and so many more, and share our knowledge and our passion in a field that is brimming with so many possibilities.
My experience was nothing short of amazing. I have since reached out to a number of organizations, all of them nonprofits, and have started other projects doing similar design work while I look for a full time role and I gotta say, being able to continue the work I love with companies and projects that deserve and want the help has really changed the way that I look at my own professional future in all the best ways.
Check out Catchafire if you’re interested in designing for good! I promise it’s worth every second.