Customizing & Simplifying the Expat Process
FORAS Moving Abroad App
The desire to live abroad for Americans has been growing in popularity and will continue to do so. As such, there seems to still be a severe lack of centralized and customizable digital tools aiding would-be emigrants with their move.
My Roles: UX Research, UI, Interaction Design
Emigrating is an unnecessary challenge for most Americans due to extensive bureaucracy, overall process coordination, and scattered online resources, which results in avoidable stress from superfluous planning and research.
Tasked with researching the challenges associated with moving abroad as an American, I set out to write a research paper to validate my assumptions, then, build a digital solution to address the aforementioned challenges.
In 2016, the State Department estimated that there were around 9 million Americans living overseas, an increase from the 4 million estimated in 1999, or an increase of 125% in 17 years. The 2016 count is only an estimate because the State Department does not release specific numbers on Americans living abroad.
My process was to research the problem and validate assumptions, define the users, distill down the needed features, then design a tool that would address any and all pain points affiliated with the users.
This case study was conducted prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and was conducted over the course of 8 weeks, prior to.
A key part to writing the research paper was analyzing research data, as well as user feedback to address any point points and major concerns that expats had experienced with emigration. I looked at what sort of values or motivations they had, as well as what the most common pain points were.
After documenting user data on an affinity map, patterns began to emerge. I distilled them down to the following statistics.
The research culminated in 2 persona types:
1. The Digital Nomad
2. The Assigned Expat
After determining which audience the tool would be built for, it was time to observe & analyze the main features of the products from the research competitive analysis to determine product blindspots. FORAS would encompass the competition's primary features in addition to potentially having its own unique ones.
I then created the following features matrix to compare overall value to overall effort for feature prioritization.
The following 3 features were chosen for the MVP:
Design & Test
Upon completing feature determinations, I began brainstorming with sketches, which then became paper wireframes to which I rapidly tested with 2 users to get their general feedback of the overall concept.
Prototype – Mid Fidelity
After sketching and testing the basic outline of the app, I began to develop the UI further to make it visually friendly with the inclusion of icons for each task. Here are a few examples of the app at this stage.
I user tested the mid fidelity prototype with 3 participants and the feedback was incredibly useful. Here are a few takeaways.
Mid-Fidelity User Test Takeaways
• change "Dashboard" to "My Move"
• make "My Move" link back to the main page
• make carousel brighter
• make completion status filter for subtasks
After ironing out any potential user issues, I arrived at my MVP with the following design.
Outcomes & Lessons
What Went Well
⦁ was able to find and interview a sizeable amount of participants who have previously moved abroad
⦁ picked Figma up quickly and was able to troubleshoot a few issues thanks to the extensive amounts of Figma documentation online
⦁ Figma plugins proved to be extremely helpful and have made me a Figma lover!
What Proved Challenging
⦁ prototyping in inVision Studio proved to be challenging and extremely limiting, so, I ended up having to switch from Sketch to Figma halfway through my project, which was time-consuming.