Case study: Migration bureaucracy packed in your mobile phone

Sprint Project
Year: 2021
Project Role Focus: UX, UI, Design System
Project Partners / Co-authors: Nuno Moreira and Sofia Orellano

As part of a project during the Ironhack Bootcamp, we’ve decided to work on a brief related to Migration. This was an easy and unanimous decision as we all had experienced at least once how migrating to another country can end up being a frustrating process.

Photo by billow926 on Unsplash

EMPATHISE

The User Research was the first step to understanding what are the pain points that people feel, preventing us from designing exclusively based on our assumptions. In other words, we converged from the proposed challenge.

Our approach to understanding the user at this stage started with a quantitative method to find validations through a bigger audience. Therefore, we elaborated a Lean Canvas Survey to find out more about the multitude of challenges that people face during migration and their biggest fears. We have reduced the audience to people who had migrated in the past few years or were planning to emigrate within the next year.

Lean Canvas Survey

To gain insights from our users, their problems, and goals we sent out a survey, based on the Lean Canvas. In less than half a day the survey was completed by twelve participants.

Wordcloud highlighting the problems most mentioned

We understood that the biggest challenges the users encountered were related to transport and luggage, accommodation, medical insurance, and bureaucracy. Almost 82% of the users moved for professional opportunities and the most visited sources to search for information were the official governmental ones (73%), social media (45%), and local residents (54%).

After collecting this self-reported data through surveys, we approached the problem with qualitative methods. The goal was to deepen our research and empathize more with the users through interviews, to pick the points to target the information. To accomplish that we developed an interview guide to prepare for the interviews.

As the 3 members of the team had encountered migration processes, it was important to discuss our assumptions to validate or invalidate our thesis. When preparing the interview, we divided the questions in chronological order of the planning and the arrival to the new country, so that the person interviewed could follow the sequence of happenings upon the process. Through the interviews, we got closer insights about the users and the real pains they had encountered.

Quotes from the qualitative interviews

DEFINE

After conducting the User Research phase we started converging to define who the potential users are and their emotions towards the topic of migration. At the beginning of this process, we did an Affinity Diagram to find a way to dissect the collected data to find insights and patterns.

Affinity diagram on collaborative board

We sorted with sticky notes the quotes of the interviews we had reached and crossed it with the survey results into 7 categories. The Affinity Diagram method helped cluster findings and discover trends and relationships in data.
We agreed that the topics of transportation, luggage, and accommodation were problems that required solutions that were out of our reach. As for social activities, we’ve decided it was not the right time to approach this, considering the current pandemic context we are living in. The anxiety caused by bureaucratic administrative processes was our biggest issue to focus on.

Our next step was to frame our challenge into a How Might We…? set of questions, in order to set up an innovative solution.

Core “How might we” - statements

With the Empathy Map, we quickly realized that we were putting ourselves in the user’s shoes and understanding their pains and gains.

Empathy Map

Based on the people interviewed during the qualitative research, we’ve come up with the Personas: two women in their late 20’s who just moved to Berlin. Soledade is the primary persona, an open-minded interior Designer who regrets not having prepared a better plan in advance before moving abroad. Carol, a very organized Content Creator, cannot understand the people’s attitude in the new city, mentioning that they don’t speak English or care about helping immigrants.

Primary and Secondary Persona

A possible scenario for Soledad can be seen in the following Storyboard. She needs to accomplish the task of registering in Berlin. After a long wait for the day of her appointment, she realizes that not all the documents have been gathered and therefore a new appointment has to be set.

Storyboard of the primary user

The process of moving to the new city is characterized by a mix of ups and downs. As it is displayed in the User Journey Map, all the initial excitement of starting a new life in another country can quickly turn into anxiety. Only with a lot of patience and perseverance, the user can finally settle.

User Journey Illustration

At this point the problem statement was defined as the following:

The service is not meeting the level of accessibility required by the target audience, causing anxiety over the progress of the tasks.

And the hypothesis statement:

We believe that improving the accessibility and understanding of the official information for immigrants will achieve a more efficient immigration process.

IDEATE

Having set the stage to work on, our team gathered different brainstorming techniques to start diverging towards possible solutions. The “Worst Idea” tool was the ice-breaker, with interesting thoughts emerging from the worst ideas that came to our mind. Afterward, we’ve used the “Round Robin” tool by building upon all the team members’ ideas. Dozens of sticky notes quickly filled up the Ideation board.

Ideation collaborative boards

Afterward, we voted for the most viable concept on which way to go: we knew that our service was supposed to collect information scattered over different online sources, process it, and filter it in a way that would be easily understandable for off-the-boat migrants with limited language skills. The question has been how we’re going to resolve that. We ended up having to make a split decision here:

  • On the one hand, we had various ideas of a third person or instance mentoring the user, who would help with the paperwork within the context of social interaction or a financial transaction of some sort. In this case, the main purpose of the service would be to connect the user with his potential mentor.
  • The second concept has been a service, which processes the data, then filters it depending on the users’ individual situation. It would also enable the user to manage his paperwork and control and monitor the whole process — a tool that helps the user help himself.

Since we received mixed opinions on how ready people are to proactively engage with new people during the user research, the second option seemed like a more universal solution and a good starting point to draft a user flow. Also, it works well with two more conceptual ideas we came up with during the ideation process:

  • A personal data wallet, that is used for correspondence with the office facilities and to automatically complete forms and papers. Also to collect data on the individual situation of the user and pick the right forms and procedures;
  • A taskboard on the starting screen, which provides a quick overview of upcoming paperwork to take care of.

PROTOTYPE

The drafted flow works as follows:

The user firsts receive a welcome screen, where he’s asked to specify the city he’s living in and the date of arrival; later he starts with the different steps of the process.
  • The user is guided to the starting screen with the 4 most relevant tasks (displayed as prominent buttons) that usually need to be taken care of upon arrival, according to our questionnaire in the quantitative research: visa, registration, healthcare insurance, and the creation of a bank account. At the bottom of the screen, the user is prompted to create a data wallet;
  • The data wallet offers the opportunity to fill out personal information relevant for most official procedures and the option to upload a copy of the passport for verification;
  • Upon completion of the wallet, the service recognizes the need to register the user in the resident registration office. The icon for the registration task lights up red, signifying the need for action by the user;
  • The user enters the “registration” section and is being displayed the office responsible, as well as the tasks that need to be taken care of, sorted by the due date;
  • The first task is a form that the user needs to fill. It is pre-filled by the data wallet but lacks additional data. After the user adds the records, he can send out the form and receives a confirmation with the approximate processing time;
  • Back in the registration section, the completed task is displayed in the “submitted” section with the date the form was submitted
  • Going back to the home screen, the user sees the icon for the registration section lighting up yellow, signifying that there are processes still active or there are still upcoming tasks on their way, but no urgent action is required.

TEST & CONCLUSIONS

We put the prototype online on Maze to see if our flow works as expected. The results of 14 testers are the following:

  • 85,7% Direct success rate
  • 14,3% Give Up / Bounce
  • For the question of “How easy was it to register in Berlin?”, ranging from 1 to 10, we received an average score of 5.1
Maze capture on the test results

The task has been to register in Berlin. The biggest stumble seemed to be right in the second screen, where we figured out that we didn’t point out the necessity to create a wallet before trying to register, which led to testers getting stuck and also not knowing what a data wallet was in the first place.

Even though it might be less of a subject on a higher fidelity prototype, there was a lack in understanding the start screen, as it was considered confusing. The general feedback on the idea has been positive though.

Munich-based Transportation Designer. Currently taking part in the Ironhack UI/UX Bootcamp to discover the potential of UI/UX workflows in mobility.