UX Research and Design


Unself is a social impact platform that catalyzes young people to change the world through volunteering. We help people find, track, and share their volunteer experiences to amplify the good they are doing in the world.


I joined Unself as the 9th employee with the goal to be the bridge between product and the community. I spent time getting to know users and the volunteering community as a whole, and distilled what I found into product prioritization and feature design. I worked with a Product Manager, a Brand Designer, and the Head of Product. Some of my responsibilities included:

  • Ethnographic and empathy research (10%)
  • Managing user feedback and needs (10%)
  • Workflows and user journeys (5%)
  • Requirements gathering and ideation (20%)
  • Wireframing and prototyping (50%)
  • Usability testing (5%)

Example Project: Organization Discovery

Card sorting group exercise on volunteer motivations and barriers.

Card sorting group exercise on volunteer motivations and barriers.

Empathize: Unself started with a focus on helping young people track their volunteer hours to fulfill requirements (like National Honor Society) or build a resume based on their volunteer experiences. After a few months and an MVP, we realized that tracking hours wasn't enough.

I spent my first few weeks with Unself finding out why the platform wasn't providing value. I met with more than 20 users and potential users and discovered a need that was sabotaging the value we built: young people didn't know where to go to volunteer.

How might we create an ecosystem of volunteering in which users can track their hours, but can also discover new places to volunteer?

I care about building a relationship with a nonprofit. I want a recurring opportunity where I get to know the people I am helping.
— Young professional volunteer, Age 27

Define: I held 3 group sessions, 5 individual interviews, and surveyed over 100 people about how they find volunteer opportunities and why it isn't working. We built a journey map of the process of finding volunteer opportunities. I found that in order for Unself to help young people find new places to volunteer, we needed to include the following in our solution:

  • We must make the discovery of volunteer opportunities feel curated
  • We must help nonprofits tell their story to potential volunteers
  • We must brand discovery in a fun and surprisingly innovative way
  • We must help people search by cause, schedule, skills, and recommendations from people they trust
  • We must prioritize the organization, not its events
  • We must make the solution responsive

Ideate & Prototype: I looked at other 'matching' apps (like dating apps and professional services platforms) and sketched a few concepts that worked with the information we knew people wanted to see. I worked with our brand designer to refine those ideas and create high fidelity wireframes with a personality. I showed them to users and worked with our development team to think through the tech complexity.

Documentation & Development: We split the organization discovery feature into 8 phases so we could learn from each and iterate. We built nonprofit profiles for a group of 39 organizations we had relationships with and then built a Tinder-like matching page for users to search through.