BFS provides medical, financial, employment and child protection for San Franciscans. CalFresh (the Food Stamps program) is one of these services. It provides money to pay for groceries. As an internal research and design resource in the San Francisco Human Service Agency (where BFS is located), I managed the research strategy for this project. I then transitioned from overseeing the work in the first of research to being primary the individual contributor for the next two research sprints. This included leading all (1) research, (2) research operations and (3) deliverables.
Role: Manager & Lead Researcher
Challenge: The digital services team in my agency was upgrading our organization’s website from the Drupal 7 to 9 programming language. How could this opportunity also improve how the public experiences the site’s design and content? What if we started by researching people’s experiences with the highly trafficked CalFresh webpages, including non-native English speakers?
Project Scope: We worked with the product owner to align on the project’s (1) goals, (2) questions to be answered, (3) prototypes to be tested, (4) timeline, (5) deliverables, (6) success metrics and (7) prioritization of research insights.
Quick Wins: We successfully advocated for the engineering team to use the U.S. Web Design System (USWDS) as the basis for the upgrade. The quality design and accessibility-compliant components of USWDS were in Drupal. They could be repurposed for our website’s needs. We also used data successfully to champion testing (1) on mobile devides (that’s how most people use our site), and (2) with our Traditional Chinese-reading population (who are about one in five of our CalFresh clients).
Evolving Strategy: The original research lead left the project before the first round of data gathering was done. I moved from a managerial role to being the lead, individual contributor, which included two more rounds of remote research. Early changes I made involved (1) a more systematic approach to note-taking and analysis, (2) deeper collaboration with the project team to analyze and synthesize the data, and (3) prototypes to show the team based on the research insights.
Equity Considerations: Research participants came from a variety of demographic backgrounds to provide a more holistic understanding of how people experience the website on mobile and non-mobile devices.
Outputs: (1) New prototypes, (2) a research report, and (3) refined research templates and tools.
Impact: Based on the insights, (1) translations errors have been fixed, (2) a translation service is being hired to manage this work for the five, non-English languages, (3) a mobile-first rather than mobile responsive website transition is happening for our product team, (4) a new approach to rapid testing has been created.