How can we help DC Government Social Services get feedback from diverse residents?



DC Social Services needs input from diverse residents because they want to implement changes that delight their residents.


We believe that Shared Vision, a DC feedback tool provides a way to capture feedback and allows the DC government to turn that feedback into transparent solutions to facilitate services that delight their residents.


DC government’s social services team needs a web application focused around listening and learning from DC residents to better curate discourse around what residents want for their city.

Role & Scope

I worked on a two person team during a 3 week sprint to produce this product. Though the team shared tasks, my role focused on user and competitive research.


  • Secondary Research

  • Screener Survey

  • User Interviews

  • Affinity Mapping

  • Persona Development

  • Task Analysis

  • Comparative Analysis

  • Wireframing

  • Usability Testing


  • Survey with 200 Responses

  • 15 User Interviews

  • Multi-prong feedback approach that can be integrated digitally and in person

  • Clickable prototype using Axure RP

The Process

Research Plan:

  • Screener survey (200 responses) about residents’ experience with DC Government and why they live in DC

  • Interviews with residents (15)

  • Competitive analysis

  • Business canvas model

  • Affinity mapping

  • User persona

  • Task analysis

Project Constraints:

DC government is in the early stages of site redesign. They recognize that they will need content management systems and an in depth site audit, but want a tool that could be implemented now.

Insights Gained:

  • DC Social Services is difficult to find. From the website, the link for social services directs the user to Answers 211

  • Answers 211 is the city’s method for providing 24/7 assistance for residents in crisis; however, the search function does not turn up results and many google reviews complain that it is very difficult to get their phone call answered

  • The “send feedback” link in the site footer redirects to 211; there is no feedback function there

  • Residents are not clear on what DC social services is or what they are responsible for

  • Residents choose to live in DC because they feel like they belong and love the convenience, walkability, and diversity

  • Residents struggle with DC government’s lack of transparency. They do not understand where to go to accomplish simple tasks.

  • Other cities, including New York and San Francisco provide online portals where residents can make accounts without having to go into offices

  • Receiving common benefits like SNAP, a supplemental food program, requires residents to complete almost 20 steps including in person visits and 20 page forms with several levels of documentation

Who is DC Social Services?

Business Canvas Model

DC Government prioritizes respect for all residents and strives to serve each and every one. How could they reach people who need the most help? We needed a tool that was extremely intuitive and simple.

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Competitive Analysis

San Francisco’s social services website was modular, easy to use and navigate, and asked for feedback — on every page. At the bottom of each page, San Francisco’s social services site asks, “Did you find what you are looking for?” with yes and no buttons. We loved this model instantly, and San Francisco’s online reviews of their Social Services validated our thoughts.

They received a 4.0 out of 5.0 on Google reviews with over 105 reviews. DC Social Services received a low 2.4 out of 5.0 on Google reviews. This simple tool provided the model for our own designs. Our next step was to survey DC residents to find out their thoughts.

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Respondents to our survey live in DC because they work here, yes — but they choose to stay here because they feel like they belong. People are proud of where they live, or where they have found community. People were equally willing to reveal what they needed from DC gov, and many asked for processes that would increase transparency. If there are procedures, if they make a complaint with 311 — people wanted to understand how to accomplish their goals with clear and simple language and steps from DC gov. One of our respondents said:

“Transparency is really about effective communication. Let neighbors know about changes that will affect them and give them time to react.”

Three Key goals for the product

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Sketches, Wireframes & Prototypes

key features

A cross platform feedback tool

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In-page Experience

Appearing as a pop up when a user scrolls 75% down the page, this tool expands to prompt the user to answer whether they found what they were looking for, or not. Based on their answers, the tool uses machine learning and AI to suggest resources that might be useful and to filter and tag the information so that user data can be combined to help shape social service planning and service design.

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Micro-Site Experience

Accessed from the top navigation and the footer, this site guides users through the same process of providing feedback, suggesting resources, and categorizing information. Additionally, this site allows users to see the collective data from the city. Are residents struggling with wait times at offices? They will be able to see how many others have made similar complaints. Over time, DC government will also be able to implement feedback based on these complaints to demonstrate transparency.

Finished Low-Mid Fidelity design:

DC Social services feedback tool