COLAB28 - Web App


A discussion platform where immigrants in the United States connect to share and access vital and essential information for successful integration.

Problem Space

Lack of easy access to vital information for immigrants, documented and undocumented, in the United States.

Problem Background  

Immigrants, regardless of their documentation status, play a crucial role in America and deserve access to essential services like healthcare, education, and legal support. However, fear of repercussions and a lack of information often hinder them from seeking help. A Kaiser Family Foundation report highlighted that 69% of undocumented immigrants in California worry about detention or deportation due to insufficient information. Our research further shows that many immigrants, including those hesitant to disclose their status, seek information on critical matters like healthcare and employment but lack suitable platforms. This gap emphasizes the need for discussion communities tailored for immigrants, providing a safe space to share concerns and access assistance. Creating such a platform can empower immigrants to navigate challenges with confidence and support.

User Pain Points & Research Insights

Adopting the quantitative research methodology using survey questionnaire, the following pain points were identified during this research: 

  1. Fear of Repercussions: Immigrants may fear detention or deportation, leading to anxiety and reluctance to seek information or assistance.
  2. Limited Access to Information: Due to a lack of suitable platforms or resources, immigrants may struggle to access crucial information about healthcare, legal status, employment, education, and other essential services.
  3. Barriers to Healthcare: Undocumented immigrants may face challenges in accessing affordable and quality healthcare services due to their status, leading to health concerns going unaddressed.
  4. Legal Concerns: Immigrants may lack clarity about their legal rights and obligations, contributing to anxiety and uncertainty about interactions with authorities or accessing legal support.
  5. Limited Job Opportunities: Undocumented immigrants may face barriers in finding stable and legal employment, leading to financial instability and limited career prospects.


Our preliminary user research to validate this problem with immigrants in the United States found that a lot of immigrants experience difficulties when trying to integrate into the system, basically because they lack the right and essential information they need. By building a platform that would give immigrants access to vital information and resources, immigrants will feel more empowered and informed by overcoming their fears, finding support, and raise awareness. 

Solution Explanation

Our product is designed to assist immigrants in smoothly integrating into the United States by providing easy access to crucial information and resources. We believe that by offering a personalized question and answer platform that respects their privacy, immigrants will be more inclined to utilize it. This approach helps them feel more empowered to seek assistance and navigate their immigration journey, as they can conveniently locate necessary information while maintaining anonymity when asking or answering questions. Ultimately, this fosters their successful integration into their new community.

ImmiTalk is a tailored discussion platform for immigrants in the United States to connect and share vital information for successful integration.

Based on our target users’ painpoints, we decided to work on the following five key features for our MVP:

  1. Account Creation: When a new user interfaces with ImmiTalk for the first time, they are prompted to create an account. This gives them access to features and allows them to interact with the community and access resources tailored to their needs.
  2. User Profile Creation: Users are also encouraged to create their profile which allows the platform to tailor content and services to their needs and help facilitate communication and interaction with other users.
  3. Post Creation: Users are able to share their thoughts on whatever topics relating to immigration with the community. It could be asking a question, sharing an experience, or providing helpful advice. 
  4. Translation: When a user engages with a post, they have the option to translate the post from its original language to their preferred language to an easily understanding and comprehension of the message of the post.
  5. Anonymity: We understand that there are some private and sensitive questions or queries or responses that users may want to share, so we created the anonymous feature that enables user to participate and interact with a conversation without revealing their real identity.

Based on our usability testing, we've received positive user feedback about ImmiTalk's engagement and received valuable suggestions for future improvements. Users found ImmiTalk to be straightforward, user-friendly, and easy to understand. In fact, over 70% of survey participants expressed their willingness to join and use ImmiTalk.

Lofi & Hifi Mockups

Iterative Design Learnings

When we presented our prototype to users again, we found that most of them appreciated the platform's design and functionality. They had no issues creating an account, which was the first task. However, some users encountered difficulties with the second task of translating posts into their preferred language because they couldn't locate the translate button easily.

Implementation Details 

GitHub Link:

Hosted on Vercel, our platform leverages a blend of cutting-edge technologies to deliver a seamless user experience.

  • Backend: Our backend infrastructure is powered by Node.js, orchestrated with Express for RESTful APIs, and fortified with Firebase, a versatile database solution that efficiently manages user data and posts.
  • Frontend: At the forefront of our user interface lies JavaScript, accompanied by React, a robust library adept at crafting intuitive and responsive UI components.
  • CSS Framework: To infuse our designs with aesthetic allure and functional coherence, we've embraced Tailwind CSS, an elegant and efficient utility-first framework.
  • High-Level Journey of a Request: Every interaction begins with the backend server gracefully receiving a request. Guided by Express routes, the server deftly orchestrates the manipulation or retrieval of data from Firebase before tenderly crafting a bespoke response for the client.
  • Key Design Elements: Our design ethos revolves around clarity, accessibility, and engagement. Through meticulous attention to detail, we've crafted a responsive layout that adapts seamlessly to diverse screen sizes. Clear navigation beckons users to explore, while visually captivating elements captivate the senses and foster an unforgettable experience.
  • Technical Challenges: Crafting this platform wasn't without its hurdles. We carefully navigated the delicate balance between time constraints and feature richness. We danced on the tightrope of performance optimization and customization, while weighing the merits of Firebase's Realtime Database against the scalability offered by Firestore.
  • Hardest Part of Development: The most arduous task was harmonizing the demands of time with the intricacies of feature implementation, ensuring that each component seamlessly fit into the grand tapestry of our vision.
  • Scaling Issues: Presently, our application scales gracefully, thanks to the robust architecture laid down by Firebase. However, we remain vigilant and open to exploring Firestore's scalability features as our user base expands.
  • Key Takeaways: In our journey, we've learned that making informed decisions about technical tradeoffs is paramount. It's these decisions that pave the way for successful project implementation and set the stage for future growth and innovation.

Future Steps

It was a highly collaborative effort for our team to complete this project within 8 weeks. Despite facing significant setbacks with two team members, we remained determined and persevered. Our aim is to continue developing ImmiTalk beyond Co.Lab, focusing on conducting thorough research and user interviews to better understand their needs and create a valuable platform for them.


Product Manager Learnings:

Oladimeji Odewuyi

Feature Prioritisation: Learning and understanding which feature users find most valuable or challenging helped in prioritising development efforts. Team Collaboration: I learnt the importance of teamwork and resilience in overcoming setbacks and staying committed to the project’s goals despite challenges faced along the way. Continuous Improvement: I also learnt to recognize that the product is a work in progress and that ongoing iterations based on user feedback and testing are essential for creating a successful and user-friendly platform.

Designer Learnings:

Minal Bhole

First thing I learned in CoLab is to manage my time effectively, which helped me complete tasks efficiently and meet all my deadlines. This skill was crucial in ensuring that the project stayed on track and was delivered on time.

Working as part of a team, I learned to adapt to feedback from team members and users while keeping our designs aligned with product goals.

I improved my ability to communicate design decisions to developers and product managers, which helped with understanding and implementing design features smoothly.

I gained a deeper understanding of building a product from design, development, and product management perspectives. This helped me see how different roles work together to achieve the overall goals.

Developer Learnings:

Kymbat Baibaturova

As a member of the ImmiTalk team, collaborating with a project manager, product designer, and fellow developers has enhanced my collaboration and communication skills. Engaging in code reviews and receiving feedback from peers has improved my coding practices and fostered continuous learning. By prioritising user-centric design principles, I've contributed to creating features that meet the needs of our audience. Overall, working in this team environment has facilitated my professional growth and development as a software developer.

Developers Learnings:

Christopher Maduka


Full Team Learning

As a team, we discovered the significance of communication, collaboration, transparency, willingness to seek assistance and learn, patience in teamwork, and recognizing that we are navigating a new challenge. We embraced perseverance and dedication to ensure the success of the project.