WCARO is a UNICEF program aimed at monitoring and evaluating WASH facilities across 9 countries.
"I don't have an overview of how the WCARO projects indicators are progressing across the 9 countries"
Overview & Problem
I was approached by our Akvo product manager dealing with the UNICEF contract. UNICEF was using an akvo reporting tool (RSR) to create the M&E framework for the WCARO program and submit values and subsequently update the progress of those indicator in time (monitoring). The problem was to be able to monitor and assess the progress of this multiple project in one place, to then being able to drive efficient and evidence based decision making. This is where I was tasked to research and design an M&E Dashboard UI to help program managers to see at a glance the progress of their projects indicators across 9 African countries, as well as make sense of the hierarchy of all the projects aggregating their values at the country level program.
UNICEF through Akvo
2021 - 2022
Product manager, frontend developer, data scientist.
UX research, design and prototyping
UX Researcher / Product Designer
User research through depth interviews, Creating personas, sketching, wireframing, prototyping, usability testing for validation
The problem statement and desired solution outcome were established at the project's kickoff meeting. The project scope was very tight and I had to be quite efficient and begin sketching almost immediately and validate as I ideate.
After the initial kick-off meeting (I was not involved in prior discussions with the client), I have asked the product manager to pass on a list of stakeholders. I needed to talk first-hand to the target audience to extract goals, the context of use and behaviours.
I worked closely with the product manager, a data scientist who was extremely supportive and useful when it came to making sure visualisations and specifically the map had a clear and immediate impact, and in the end the engineering team.
To gain a deeper understanding of the users of this dashboard, I opted for an approach that immediately involved engaging directly with the target audience. Initially, I believed that the primary users would be M&E managers, M&E officers, and program managers. However, I sought to extract more specific information regarding the goals, context, and behaviours of these user groups in order to refine the problem statement.
To achieve this, I conducted six in-depth interviews (remotely) with program managers (who are in charge of taking decisions on where and when to allocate resources and funding), M&E specialists (who are more taking care of designing the program, maintaining and optimising it and liaise with project officers on the field who make sure the data is filled in and is accurate.), and data scientists. For the interview script and questions, when I start a tricky project without any background, I keep in mind the 5W1H method, used in journalism initially, it helps to stay on track when understanding the problem we want to solve during the research phase:
● Why am I designing this? (Understand the goal of this product)
● Who am I designing it for? (Define the audience: the primary user of this product)
● When and where will it be used? (Understand the user's context and needs)
● What am I designing? (What solution could solve the problem encountered by the users)
● How could I measure it? (Measure success)
The questions were crafted to answer these:
Background questions on devices usage and tech literacy, education and access to the internet?
How do they assess the progress of a program today?
What tool do they use?
What are their pain points?
Where do they work?
With whom and how do they communicate with their colleagues?
What type of decisions and on what basis do they have to take those decisions?
What does success look like?
How do they deal with missing or inaccurate data?
Asked them to recall a time when they had to make a decision on allocating the budget, and they had to prioritise which project would get the limited funding available.
These interviews provided valuable insights that allowed for the creation of two distinct personas, which served as representative archetypes for the target users.
Early wireframes & medium-fidelity prototype
Due to the tight timeline and the need to frequently validate ideas, after some "rough" pencil / paper sketches, I had to begin sketching in Adobe XD right away.
M&E framework programs are structured in this hierarchy from basic activities to impact goals:
INPUT > OUTPUT > OUTCOME > IMPACT
Initially, my primary focus was on establishing an effective structure for representing the program. To achieve this, I initially opted for a tabular approach to organize the information hierarchy.
Very first iteration, exploring the IA
These early iterations were really useful to refine the user interactions, IA and content design with the users through usability testings.
Final mid-fidelity prototype
Once I had gathered and integrated all the insights gained from the iterative lean process and usability testing, I completed the prototypes by incorporating all the received feedback.
Following that, I "sat down" (virtually) and worked closely with both our frontend and backend developers, providing them with detailed explanations of the interactions and specific UI components.
The dashboard lacks Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to gauge its success as it is primarily intended for internal use. However, the feedback received from UNICEF has been overwhelmingly positive. Despite the constraints of time and resources, the final user interface effectively resolved the key issues identified during the interviews. Personally, I acquired valuable insights into the Monitoring and Evaluation framework and the significance of visualizing such data quickly to assess status and progress. The ability to make prompt decisions with a positive impact on people's lives is crucial, especially when considering the importance of SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals).