UX Design    Student Project    February - April 2017    Completed at Pratt Institute


UX Designer    Student Project    February - April 2017    Completed at Pratt Institute


•  UX Designer

  Student Project

  February - April 2017

  Completed at Pratt Institute


•  UX Designer

  Student Project

  February - April 2017

  Completed at Pratt Institute


  Student Project

  February - April 2017

  Coursework completed at Pratt Institute


The Mobile UX/UI Certificate program at Pratt Institue integrated the skills learned in each of the curriculum’s four classes into a single capstone project. Our design brief invited students to define the first feature of a new neighborhood-centric freelancing tool for DNAinfo.

Since we were welcome to extrapolate out from the original prompt, I took this project as an opportunity to explore an area in which I’ve personally experienced some friction: How might we make it easier for technical folks to connect and collaborate on side projects outside their 9-5?



Explore the concept of a marketplace where New Yorkers can share ideas for technical projects and find collaborators with similar interests or complementary skills. Learn how people in tech start projects, find teammates, and collaborate to make progress in their endeavors. Design the rubric by which an effective, relevant, and intuitive product can be created.




To ease the facilitation of the interviews, I drafted an Interview Guide. I began with an introduction to the project objectives and moved into questions related to the interviewee’s professional experience, technology preferences, and previous history working with side projects.

I interviewed three people as part of the research process: Jim, a front-end developer; Rachel, a UX designer; and Henry, a back-end programmer.

I learned that the interviewees had enjoyed their experience working on side projects. However, they found it difficult to dedicate the time necessary to make significant progress on their projects.

When they do have an exciting new idea, it’s difficult to find people who will consistently invest time to help out. In multiple interviewees’ experience, collaborators joined by a common cause or personal experience were more likely to return to the project on a regular basis.

Interviewees most often found teammates for their projects through work connections or through digital communities with similar technological interests.


Competitive Analysis

In the second phase of my research, I opted to analyze the existing competition to see what similar products might already be in the marketplace. My research revealed the following:


  • Audience: Nomad Projects brings digital collaborators with complementary skills together so “ideas don’t stay ideas, but are actually built.”
  • Positive: User-focused website architecture, emphasis on time commitment
  • Negative: Can’t filter by city or subject matter, imbalance of individuals seeking technical skills vs. those with them to offer
  • Differentiator: Purely focused on side projects


  • Audience: Meetup brings people together to “do more of what they want to do in life,” no matter what that may be
  • Positive: Wide variety of industries and interests gathered in one place; provides easy opportunities to meet like-minded people in person
  • Negative: No emphasis on specific projects or opportunities; no system of accountability for attendance
  • Differentiator: Large, active user base
User Personas

Based on the discovery work completed during the research phase of the project, I developed two key user personas.


Eleanor Engineer


“I’ve got an project I’m passionate about, but I’ve been making slow progress working by myself. I’m need to find collaborators as passionate as I am.”


30 years - 40 years old


Eleanor is a New Yorker who’s working on a prototype of an educational app to help girls like her daughter learn about technology. She’s got some basic data structures, but she’s interested in collaborating with a designer (or even an educator) to hone her designs. She’d also like to find other programmers to help get the app ready for submission to Google Play.


Eleanor is totally strapped for time: she’s a mother, a freelance web developer, and volunteers for a local non-profit to advocate for women in tech. She’s had trouble finding collaborators, since she’s self-employed. In the past, teammates didn’t stick with the project for long.


Daniel Designer


“I’m looking for more experience working in tech, ideally as part of a project where my past work experience would be valuable.”


25 years - 35 years old


Daniel recently completed the General Assembly design bootcamp in New York and is interested in gaining more practical experience working as a UX Designer. He has a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. He’d eventually love to work for an NYC edtech startup like Noodle, Schoology, or Knewton.


While he’s passionate about education and has learned plenty about the principles of design, Daniel has a limited portfolio of work. He also doesn’t know a ton of people in the tech industry, so he’s had trouble finding opportunities.

Design Principles

Once my buyer personas were created, I developed a set of three design principles against which I could evaluate choices in the product design process.



Only include elements that are necessary in the user context. Progressively display information and keep things simple.



Focus on uniting people with common goals.  Prioritize aligning users by their values over requests for a specific skill.



Save the user time by eliminating features that could be performed in an existing system or tool. Integrate into the user’s established workflow.

Service Map

I also created a streamlined map of the actions, thoughts, and emotions a user experienced along their journey to find or share a side project.










Sending out feelers through traditional network for opportunities and potential collaborators.

Searching online for opportunities.


Browsing potential collaborators.

Considering whether a given person/project would be a good mutual fit.

First contacting  potential collaborators.

Fielding incoming messages and considering potential partnerships.

Beginning conversations with interested collaborators.

Collaborating remotely over email and Slack.

Meeting in-person in a local coffee shop or co-working space.


Who might want to work with me on this project?

How can I expand my portfolio of work?

How can I give back to a cause that matters to me?

This person does/doesn’t seem like a good fit for my project.

How will I know if this really person is invested in my project?

How will I know if I’m a good fit for a given project?

I don’t want to deal with lots of spammy inquiries sent to my email.

What might be a good way to get acquainted with this person?

I can’t wait to get started on this project.

How can I best contribute to this endeavor?

What are our first steps in working together?


Excited: I want to share it with someone on the same wavelength as me.

Overwhelmed: I’m so busy. I need help with this project.

Bored: I’m ready for a new challenge.

Inspired: I want to make a difference.

Intimidated: Vetting potential collaborators seems time consuming and intensive.

Anxious: What if no one wants to work with me?

Nervous: I hope this person responds to my message.

Excited: This person seems like they could be a productive partner!

Hopeful: This seems like a promising connection.

Anxious: I really like this person, I hope they don’t flake out on me.

Relieved: I’m so glad I’m not working on this project by myself.


Whether you’ve already started a project, or you’re looking for opportunities to create something new, JOYN connects you with like-minded teammates to create your next world-changing project.

“Build something you love, with teammates who care.”



I began by mapping out what I expected would be the key screens & states needed in an early prototype of the application, including:

  • Project Exchange: where users would be able to browse projects and individual contributors

  • Projects: used to describe an opportunity for contribution

  • People: individual members of the app without a project in mind, but with skills and passion on offer

To increase interest in the variety of projects and contributors, users can browse projects without creating an account. As part of the account creation process, however, users can select key categories of interest and the listing screen changes to only display their selected areas of focus.

Interest selection during onboarding.


By default, only the interest areas chosen are shown.


Once a user has chosen a subject matter area within which to browse, they may select whether they want to browse available projects or indviduals who have submitted their profiles to join existing initiatives.

Project listing screen.


Individual project page.


People listing screen.


Individual contributor profile.

Prototyping in Code

In the third course of the Pratt Certificate program, we spent a few weeks creating a simple prototype of our designs. I used basic HTML, CSS, and a simple toggle JavaScript interaction to create two key screens of the JOYN experience: Topics Listing Page and the Project/Profile Listing Page.


While I haven’t worked on this project since the conclusion of the Pratt Certificate program, I would love to spend more time working with this idea: I still have yet to find a solution that effectively connects technical contributors around their passions.

With additional time to work on this project, I would test the initial concept using the protoype I created, potentially adding more screens to test the entire onboarding experience. I’d be especially interested which approach was of more interest to users: browsing by project or contributor.

From there, I would refine the feature set and polish the designs for production by creating a cleaner, more modern UI design that appeals to the product’s technically-savvy audience.

More Work

CHPC New York CityProject type

MobilewallaProject type

GZERO MediaProject type

JoynProject type