Give duet
Conducting design research for a tech-driven donation platform.

The Prompt

How might we redesign the donor experience for Duet's donation platform?

The Outcome:

  • Presentation outlining in-depth insights and recommendations
  • Strategic next-steps workshop with the Duet Product Team
  • Workshops with the Duet Team on HCD methodologies

My Role:

Lead UX researcher. Worked with Spence Blood (Head of Design) and Jaden Young (Intern).

  • Train the Duet team on HCD metholdogies 
  • Understand Duet’s objectives and create a UX Research Plan
  • Create wireframes for a new prototype
  • Create an interview guide and design behavioral activities
  • Co-lead user interviews
  • Lead the synthesis and generating insights phase
  • Lead a strategic next-steps workshop
Duet is an OpenIDEO-winning, non-profit startup modernizing philanthropy by helping resettled refugees rebuild their lives. Duet was created when the founding team visited Moira Camp in Greece, known as the "the worst refugee camp on earth” and observed the following:
The team created Give Duet; web-based platform that empowers beneficiaries to directly decide what they need, allows donors to choose how their aid is spent and supports and revitalizes the local economy in the process.
I was approached by Duet with the opportunity to lead user research for the donor-facing side of Give Duet, and develop a strategic plan for their Product Development team. We carried out in-depth user interviews gathering insights about donor behavior, the current donation process, and information hierarchy during their donating experience. We also tested prototypes created from internal user feedback and guidelines from the Better Giving Studio, and also scoped out a new business model for Duet. The insights from this research were used to help Duet understand their donors better, and guide them on next-steps in product development.
Our approach

UX Research Plan

I worked with the Duet team to create a UX research plan that would help guide product development, test assumptions, and gain a deeper understanding of their donors. The objectives were as follows:

Creating an MVP prototype

In addition to carrying our user research for the current web platform, Duet wanted to incorporate the following into their donation platform:
- Wanted donors to understand that a refugee resettlement journey consists of different stages and the items of need per family are indicative of that.
- Wanted donors to be able to help multiple families irrespective of their contribution/donation amount.

Based on this, I created MVP prototypes to test the waters with. When approaching these prototypes, I focused on three elements that made Duet innovative in the non-profit space: Empathy, Transparency and Autonomy. Defining these attributes helped me create prototypes that aligned with their product vision.

Creating an Interview Guide

We then created an interview guide consisting of a cluster of questions around each theme. We specifically used the laddering approach to uncover deeper motivations and beliefs. Sometimes there can be a mismatch between consumer thoughts and actions- and that is especially prevalent in the field of charitable giving! Therefore, we designed digital activities for the participants to engage in that were designed to help us see uncover true donor motivations and paint a more accurate picture.
Activity 1: Staged Duet Website
Activity 2: Prioritization
Activity 3 : Feedback on the new protoype

Interviews + Synthesis

Spence and I led the user interview sessions. We had fascinating conversations and regrouped at the end of each interview to share our observations. We captured everything that we saw, observed, and heard during our interview sessions into a giant board. We were then ready for synthesis!
We downloaded all our observations, learnings and initial insights into a digital board. We were working remotely due to COVID, hence we chose a digital approach.
We started by created clusters by grouping similar things we had heard from our interviews. We then created themes for each one of them and further split our observations into what we heard people say vs what we heard them do.
Synthesis of some of our learnings grouped by themes

Generating Insights

After grouping our learnings, I led the team through the insights creation process. This was a qualitative, gut-feel process that was aimed to offer a new perspective from our user research interviews. It involved understanding the ‘why’ behind donor behaviors and needs. I used to guide the team on how to create insights.
Using this format, these are a snapshot of some of the insights, we created:
Donors want to feel like their donation is fundamental in rebuilding someone’s life.
Donors know that refugees know best, but when it comes to making a donation, they mentally gauge the importance of an item in relation to their own life. This is problematic because they have never been in a refugee situation, hence they do not know why an unseemingly important item may be important to the refugee. Donors want to pick the “most important time” to feel like their donation is going to change the trajectory of someone’s life. They want to feel like they are making the best or the most important donation in the refugee’s life. Hence, they try and optimize impact whilst also getting a bang for their buck. The need to make the biggest impact comes from donors wanting to feel a sense of importance and fulfillment. They want to feel good about themselves.
When donors have to settle for a "lesser donation" in their budget, they no longer feel like heroes.
When urgent items are out of budget, people struggle to settle for another item in their budget but that feels less impactful to the recipient. Donors want to be heroes – they want their gifts to be appreciated and significantly aid a family in rebuilding their life. This is important because the Duet promise of donor choice gives donors the desire to make the most impact with their choice of donation.
Donors would like a relatable connection to the refugees.
Donors like seeing family stories because they humanize the families and build trust with Duet as an organization. However, the current family stories do not influence donation decision-making because they're generic. Donors enjoy it when they get a glimpse of specific hobbies, interests, or values that they understand or can relate to. Connection is more than just knowing where they came from, it involves having something that donors can relate back to themselves.
Donors want to maintain connections with families they've supported as they watch them rebuild their lives.
Many donors currently don't remember who they previously supported. They want to be aware of those families because their initial donation seeded a connection that they would like to maintain. This is important to track the progress of the family and feel like they are along every step of the journey to the family rebuilding their life.
Donors strongly believe in the local economic impact created by Duet and want to learn more about the stores.
Duet's benefit to the local economy is a key differentiating factor in why they choose to donate to Duet. They like how it allows all of the money to be spent on the aid, that the funds benefit small, local store owners, and how sustainable the solution is. Donors currently don't see this facet of Duet communicated on the site which leaves them feeling curious to see more information about who the stores are (pictures/owner/description).
Donors would like the items in their bundle to feel impactful.
Donors don't mind the “bundle option”, especially when it saves time or decision fatigue. However, once there is an item placed in their bundle that doesn't seem important or impactful enough, they want to redo their bundle or opt out of the bundling feature. This is because they feel like their donor autonomy has been compromised and the quality of their donation is lower. Donors want to feel impactful and finish their donation without feeling like there was something better to give.
We then went through these insights and generated "How Might We" questions as a starting point for team brainstorming sessions. The questions were written in direct response to insights and were made to feel optimistic and exciting enough to help generate ideas!
Snapshot of our workshop on creating "How Might We" statements. We created several HMW's for each insight and refined them to cover the right scope.

Suggestions and Next Steps

We grouped our insights into four opportunity areas and did a brief presentation about Donor behaviors and motivations to the greater Duet Team:
Internally, we shared more detailed insights and recommendations with the Product Development Team. From our user research sessions, Duet had learned so much about their product and as a brand! There was an overwhelming amount of information and the Product Team needed guidance on where to start from. Therefore, I hosted a prioritization session where I guided the team though an exercise of sorting the How Might We questions according to an impact vs complexity matrix.

A matrix created with the Duet team to prioritize their next steps from the insights generated


I truly believe in Duet’s mission and its business model in providing aid while allowing local economies to flourish. These user research sessions not only inspired me, but it also inspired the team with all the positive feedback donors g--ave about Duet as a non-profit. This was a pro-bono project and the Duet team’s first step in understanding their donors. The insights from this research were valuable in helping guide product development, redesigning the user flow and making UI improvements. I am excited to see where Duet grows and hope to work with them in the future