Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have a deep-rooted history of being subjected to racism, prejudice, and violence. According to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, violence against AAPIs in major U.S. cities increased by 169% in the first quarter of 2021. Amongst this, women reported hate incidents 2.3 times more than men (Stop AAPI Hate National Report, 2021). In Canada, over 1,150 cases of racist attacks have been reported since March 2020 (Fight COVID-19 Racism, 2021).
Now, more than ever, it is crucial to amplify the voices of AAPIs. Despite an unprecedented surge in awareness campaigns, fundraisers, and articles combating against anti-Asian hate crimes, a significant gap remains in bridging information silos across disparate sources. Additionally, there is a need to establish a central source of truth for AAPIs and allies to quickly and effectively find the resources they need to take action.
Given the aforementioned issues, the main question we aim to answer is:
“How might we show information that resonates with the Asian American and Pacific Islander community so that we can empower them to easily and quickly make actionable choices to inspire positive impact?”
During our discovery process, we leveraged both primary and secondary research to understand the AAPI media consumption landscape. Through user interviews (n = 8), a survey (n = 47), and user empathy maps, we discovered that our users are typically between ages 21-39, tech-savvy, and tend to read and trust news from online sources, including major news media outlets (e.g. CNN, NBC News), social media (e.g. Instagram, Twitter), AAPI websites (e.g. Next Shark, Cold Tea Collective), and more. Specifically, these users can be categorized into two main segments:
1. Compliant Challenger:
Individuals who passively consume information through social media channels. Despite being aware of ongoing social injustices against the AAPI community, they feel overwhelmed by constant negativity within the media landscape. This results in a sense of burnout and helplessness, preventing them from actively reading the news. These individuals seek for simple and intuitive ways to stay informed on the latest AAPI news.
2. Active Advocate:
Individuals who actively consume AAPI-related information and seek credible resources (e.g. AAPI news outlets, academic articles) to validate information. These individuals have high self and social awareness. They take action by sharing AAPI information and resources, initiating conversations within their social circle, or providing monetary contributions to AAPI campaigns.
Initially, our team envisioned a mobile application that provided spotlights for AAPI businesses. By introducing a platform to showcase positivity in local AAPI communities, it would enable users to feel less overwhelmed by negative news and contribute to promoting AAPI achievements, culture, and heritage.
Through conducting a competitive analysis on existing neighbourhood applications, we realized that it would be challenging to differentiate our product from established incumbents like Yelp within the six-week timeframe. Therefore, we pivoted our solution to a mobile news application that aggregates relevant information to support the AAPI community. This would be done through 1) introducing a curated news feed for users based on their unique interests, and 2) creating a resources catalogue that would provide a collection of links that contribute to supporting, educating, and donating to local AAPI causes.
Two weeks before the end of the program, one of our developers rolled off the project due to personal health issues. Consequently, we were heavily impacted from a resourcing and timeline standpoint. To address these challenges, our team pivoted from a native mobile application to a mobile-first web application. Ultimately, this enabled us to play to our strengths, contain our product scope, and develop a robust MVP by the end of the program.
Amplifyy was built on the key design principles of inclusivity and accessibility, as we aspire for users to feel safe and confident when using our product. To achieve this, we considered:
Throughout the design and testing phases, we went through numerous iterations. The following diagram illustrates our process:
From Pain Point to Solution
The following diagram summarizes how we addressed user pain points by converting them into product features:
Amplifyy is a mobile-first web application that provides relevant information and resources to support the AAPI community. The front-end was built using ReactJS and MaterialUI, and the back-end was built using ExpressJS and PostgressSQL for our database. Additionally, we leveraged Contextual Web Search API to return search queries for the AAPI community.
There are four key features in our product launch:
Step 1: Choose Topics
Step 2: View Curated News Feed
Step 3: Read Articles
Step 4: Access Resources Catalogue
Initially, our goal was to reach 75% positive ratings in these areas: Informative, Actionable, and Helpful. Based on our high fidelity user testing (n = 9) results in Maze, we achieved the following metrics:
Moreover, we also received the following feedback when we asked users if they would use the product:
Looking ahead, our team plans on further enhancing our product by refining the news feed and aggregated news sources, extending the resources catalogue, and introducing additional features such as a discover section. Our goal is to scale our product to more users and make an impact in the AAPI community by creating a platform for individuals to listen, learn, and educate themselves on the diverse culture of AAPIs.