Wicked problem: Immigration User Research for Mobile App— an Ironhack UX Case Study

Inès Yessad
5 min readJan 17, 2021

My journey as a UX/UI designer just started and as part of my training with Ironhack, I had one week to present my first project. Throughout the week we learned how to do a survey form, interviews, wireframes, and prototype.

So let me tell you more about my first UX case study.

I had the pleasure of working on a team. Laura, Victoria, Muge, and I had to choose from different topics and we all agreed to work with immigration.

Problem:

The new century has experienced an exponential increase in people’s mobility all around the world. Even if immigration has always been a recurrent phenomenon across history, never before has humankind seen such a variety of destinations, motivations, and setups.

Along with the experience of immigrating, possibly having to adapt to a different culture or language, come several bureaucratic tasks that need to be fulfilled within a certain time to legalize the journey in the host country.

Goal:

Create a mobile app in which immigrants can easily navigate through their immigration application process.

From our experience, we know that doing paperwork for immigration can be stressful and complicated. But as we learned it is not about us and our experience but the user.

So, here start our immigration journey.

Research:

Empathy Stage:

Using qualitative and quantitative methods we collected data from our main users.

We first created a survey. To optimize the time, we assigned each other tasks to think and come up with different questions. In the next step, we chose to organize our ideas in our lean survey canvas.

Lean Survey Canvas

So after brainstorming ideas we all agreed on questions that could be relevant to our users. We did a google survey form and sent it to different channels and social media.

Following the survey, we analyzed the results. Based on that we created an interview with more in-depth questions. We interviewed users that experienced immigration in different countries.

A few questions we asked :

  • What were the main reasons you moved into a new country?
  • How would you describe your immigration process from start to finish? Why?
  • Which challenges did you face during the immigration process? Please explain in detail which particular part of your experience was difficult for you.
  • What did you do when you could not find the right information?

Define Stage:

We collected the data on post-it, categories, and priorities them on an affinity diagram. The affinity diagram is part of the define phase from design thinking methodology.

We first divided it into 3 categories: motivations, problems, solutions.

First Affinity Diagram

We realized it was too vague so we duplicated another whiteboard to regroup and reorganize the diagram.

The second Affinity diagram came up with a time category and subcategories :

  • Getting information about at which step the user is.
  • Making application online
  • Getting information about what documents to collect and what to do
Second Affinity Diagram

Based on the user’s data we created a user persona using our empathy map.

It was interesting to notice at this stage that choosing a topic we are all familiar with, was more challenging to empathize with the user and dissociate our personal experience from the user without assumption.

User Persona

Meet Amy Watson, 29 years old developer from Sydney moving to Amsterdam. She is concerned about her immigration application.

Findings from Research:

We worked on the problem and hypothesis statements based on insight users and How Might We statements we previously worked on. We came up with :

Problem statement :

«Our app is designed to help immigrants complete the immigration process faster and to stay up-to-date. We have observed that the current process is too time-consuming and lacks transparency to meet user’s needs which causes them confusion and stress.»

Hypothesis statement :

“We believe that by providing clear step-by-step instructions to complete the application process along with a tracking mechanism about the status of the applications, we will achieve a faster and more relaxed application process. We will know we are right when the user’s rate that the application process via our app was faster and flawless through the app”.

We created a storyboard describing the user journey and following that we did a journey map that helped us resume all the data we have collected through our research.

A storyboard is intended to illustrate user experience.

Immigration Storyboard
Amy’s Journey Map

Ideation stage

Many immigrants currently struggle to find out which documents they exactly need to provide and don’t see the status of their application. Using the Crazy 8 ideas method, we made sketches of the user journey app. We ideated and refined until we agreed on one feature.

Considering the results of our researches we created a user flow focusing on uploading documents.

Low-Fidelity Wireframe

Design Stage

Following the ideation phase, we worked on a mid-fidelity wireframe. The design stage helped us clarify and refine the flow to optimize the user experience. The user flow is composed of seven steps to reach the user’s goal. They will have a clear idea on which documents are needed to complete their visa application and check the status of their documents after submitting it.

Mid-Fidelity Wireframe

Test Stage

With our mid-fidelity wireframe, we chose to test it on Maze, we were happy to see a detailed overview. It will help us improve in the future.

Maze Test Results

Learnings:

To conclude I enjoyed working on this project, we learned a lot during this first week. Iteration is really important during the process. We had to do certain methods again to refine our findings.

We had to remind ourselves that we are not the users! Our personal experience with immigration made the process harder to stay objective. And good teamwork is important, it leads to better design solutions.

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Inès Yessad

Former Flight Attendant starting a new journey as a UX/UI Designer