QUEERADOPT

Helping the LGBTQ+ community in the child adoption process.

BACKGROUND AND PROBLEM

So many tools, resources and apps exist for expecting mothers and soon-to-be fathers. But what about those within the LGBTQ+ community?

We live in a world where heterosexuality and the gender binary are the norm. And while we’ve made strides for inclusivity, there’s still work to be done on this front. There are a lot of unique needs for the LGBTQ+ community, especially those who identify as transgender or non-binary. So many resources that are available don’t use gender-neutral language, which can be alienating, especially when it comes to becoming a parent. With the cost and stressful process, it’s a big life decision for people to make. QueerAdopt seeks to fill this gap for queer individuals and couples looking for support as they become parents.

Scope: Conceptual end-to-end mobile application
Role: UX Researcher, UX/UI Designer, UX Writer
Project Duration: 4 weeks (80 hours)
Tools: Figma, FigJam, Otter.ai, Whimsical
Link to Full Project Brief here.

How might we help queer people throughout the child adoption process?

SOLUTION

An end-to-end mobile app that addresses the current gap of inclusive resources for queer people who want to adopt children.

EmpathizeDefineIdeatePrototype & TestWrap-up

1. EMPATHIZE

MARKET RESEARCH & COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS

Understanding the adoption process and family-building app landscape

Link to Full Research Plan here.

As I began my secondary research, I found there’s a market for queer people who want to start their own families.

63%

of LGBTQ Millennials (aged 18-35) are considering expanding their families, either becoming parents for the first time, or by having more children

48%

of LGBTQ Millennials are actively planning to grow their families, compared to 55% of non-LGBTQ Millennials, a gap that has narrowed significantly in comparison to older generations

63%

of LGBTQ people planning families expect to use assisted reproductive technology, foster care, or adoption to become parents, a significant shift away from older generations of LGBTQ parents

The number of LGBTQ-headed families families in the U.S. is set to grow dramatically in coming years.

Source: Family Equality Council

I also became familiar with general steps in the adoption process as well as the adoption laws pertaining to the LGBTQ+ community. Throughout my research, I uncovered some key findings:

Birth certificate icon
01.
The general adoption process generally begins with figuring out what type of adoption you want to explore, finding an agency to work with, apply for adoption through the agency, complete a home study, get placed with an adoptive child and officially adopt them.
Law and order balance icon
02.
In the United States, laws and protections against adoption discrimination vary by state. According to the Movement Advancement Project, 39% of LGBTQ+ population lives in states which have no explicit protections against discrimination in adoption based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Phone with baby backround
03.
Aside from a few underused apps, there’s a gap in the market for an app like this. There’s an opportunity to be one of the first of its kind while filling a need and aiding in the adoption process for queer individuals.

With this gap, I also looked to adoption apps in addition to pregnancy apps to learn from their user experiences and explore further within my product.

Competitive Analysis

See full Competitive Analysis→

KEY TAKEAWAYS

1

Most of the direct competitors are missing app features and/or could be improved upon (i.e. community/messaging, resources, progress tracking or other unique tools).

2

The adoption apps on the market seem to be mostly geared towards birth parents looking to put their children up for adoption while the pregnancy apps are geared towards expecting mothers.

3

The direct competitor apps all exhibited poor usability overall.

USER INTERVIEWS

Listening to adoption stories

Link to Full Research Debrief here.

With adoption being very personal and intimate for people, it was crucial to hear about their experiences going through the adoption process to further uncover pain points they faced. I also learned even more about the process than I had found in my secondary research.

I spoke with three gay couples that were all cisgender males. While I wasn’t able to interview other gender identities or sexual orientations, I was able to capture some of their data through a survey. After conducting the interviews, I compiled my notes into an affinity map to uncover common themes and user insights.

User quotes from user interviews

What do users need?

01. A like-minded community...
to reach out to and ask questions throughout the process.
02. Streamlined submissions...
of paperwork
03. Educational resources...about certain aspects of the process.

04. Checklist and timeline...of specific dates and deadlines.

What frustrates users?

01. Meetings and paperwork
to reach out to and ask questions throughout the process.
02. Streamlined submissions...
due to being LGBTQ+ – some agencies don't support LGBTQ+ adoptive parents.
03. Overall confusing process
The process felt confusing at times
04. Invasive process
Sharing of insurance, credit history, health history and more when applying.

KEY TAKEAWAY

While the adoption process does follow a typical timeline, no adoption is the same.
It’s dependent upon the type of adoption as well as state laws.

QueerAdopt should focus on catering the app to all types of adoptions, allowing for customization based on the user.

2. DEFINE

USER PERSONA

The adoption process is a journey

From my research, it was clear that adoptive parents found the adoption process to be a lengthy process that carried unpredictable emotions throughout. To understand this better, I knew I would need to make a journey map to outline the process into milestones and determine how the app could have the most impact within this experience.

Before creating this journey map, I needed to understand who would be embarking on this adventure. I created a user persona as a guide for understanding how a couple feels while going through the adoption process, which laid the groundwork for the experience outlined in the journey map. Meet Brandon and Chris!

User Persona
User Persona
User Journey Map
User Journey

See full User Journey Map→

FEATURE PRIORITIZATION

How should QueerAdopt function?

Link to Feature Matrix here.

While there were many more features and opportunities uncovered through my research and interviews, I created an impact vs. effort matrix to see which had a higher value for users. With a laundry list of potential features, it helped me prioritize what to include in the MVP.

MAIN FEATURES

Inclusive agency search:

Search for inclusive adoption agencies or take a questionnaire to match with ones that meet your exact needs

Adoption education:

Read blogs, watch videos and view FAQs on the adoption process

Process tracker and planner:

Track deadlines and events throughout the adoption process

APPLICATION MAP & USER FLOWS

Getting the flows in order

With an MVP outlined, I began crafting the information architecture for the app. This was done initially through creating an application map to further define what the blueprint of the MVP would look like, particularly the navigation bar.

Along with this, I used various user flows to outline the touch points users would be utilizing the app throughout their adoption process. With such varying experiences for users, I discovered there wouldn’t be a linear flow, but rather different moments users would potentially access the app within their journey. Since the app is meant to aid in the adoption process, I wanted to keep the architecture simple and reduce cognitive load.

See full user flows →

3. IDEATE

SKETCHES & MID-FIDELITY WIREFLOWS

From paper to pixels

With an MVP outlined, I began crafting the information architecture for the app. This was done initially through creating an application map to further define what the blueprint of the MVP would look like, particularly the navigation bar.

Along with this, I used various user flows to outline the touch points users would be utilizing the app throughout their adoption process. With such varying experiences for users, I discovered there wouldn’t be a linear flow, but rather different moments users would potentially access the app within their journey. Since the app is meant to aid in the adoption process, I wanted to keep the architecture simple and reduce cognitive load.

Sketches
Wireframe sketches

See all wireframe sketches→

Mid-fidelity Wireflows

BRAND IDENTITY

Infusing the excitement and hope of adoption into the brand

Building a product from the ground up meant endless possibilities when it came to branding the app. Since adoption has a childlike connotation, it was important to bring that forth with a bright color palette, modern typography pairing as well as geometric and abstract shapes. The app needed to convey an ethos of whimsy, optimism and simplicity.

In viewing other adoption apps as well as adoption agency branding, most looked outdated and dull. They didn’t truly exhibit the excitement of building a family and I wanted to make sure it was brought to the forefront in the branding and UI.

Moodboard
Moodboard
UI Kit
UI Kit

See full UI Kit→

How did I come up with the name and logo?

When considering what to call this product, I wanted to make sure it was inclusive of the entire LGBTQ+ community but also concise in characters. I brainstormed many logo variations using “adopt” in the name but ultimately decided QueerAdopt was the best option.

I also explored many design and illustrative elements emblematic of the queer community. Though these elements are inherent, I decided to bring in shapes to the logo. Having them adjoined together symbolizes the joining of a child and their new adoptive parents. The peak of the “A” also shows a peak in someone’s life as expanding or starting a family is often a peak in a married couple’s life.

Logo Sketches
Logo sketches
Logo Roughs
Digital logo concepts

HIGH-FIDELITY WIREFRAMES

Bringing to life the QueerAdopt brand

Using the mid-fidelity wireframes and style tile for reference, I applied the visual elements to the screens constructed previously, creating wireflows outlining each interaction.

See full high-fidelity wireframes →

4. PROTOTYPE + TEST

HIGH-FIDELITY PROTOTYPE & USABILITY TESTING

Giving it a test run

Link to Full Usability Test Plan here.

To test these designs, I created a high fidelity prototype using Figma and conducted moderated remote usability tests via Zoom. 5 users participated in the test.

Test Objectives

PRIORITY REVISIONS

Changing the design for the better

After I conducted my usability testing, I compiled insights into an affinity map and a prioritization matrix to sort out what priority revisions to make. Overall, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

had trouble locating the agency questionnaire on the Find screen

Arrow

Revision: Moved the questionnaire higher up on the screen as well as added a large button CTA to draw attention to the feature.

experienced various issues completing the agency questionnaire with unclear content

Arrow

Revision: Provided clarity in the copy for questions where you could select more than one answer.

experienced confusion in system status, providing feedback on interaction within the Learn and Find screens

Revision: Added tooltips and microinteractions when adding/saving to favorite and bookmarks as well as selecting buttons in the agency questionnaire.

BEFORE
Dashboard Before High Fidelity Wireframe
AFTER
Dashboard After High Fidelity Wireframe

Progress bar

Reversed colors of background of the progress bar for the secondary yellow color, since this caused confusion here as well as in the FIND questionnaire.

Edit icon buttons

Added edit icons to the checklist and the dates/deadlines items to show how one would be able to easily edit on this screen.

BEFORE
Before Blog Content High Fidelity Wireframe

Swapped icons

A minor icon edit swap that would ideally bring iOS sharing functionality to do more than email the article.

AFTER
After Blog Content Page High Fidelity Wireframe

Tooltip confirmation

Added toolitp confirmation when article is bookmarked instead of bringing the user to the book/favorite section.

AFTER BOOKMARKED
After Bookmarked Blog Content Page High Fidelity Wireframe

Pressed bookmark

Additional confirmation the article has been bookmarked.

Hierarchy and clarity of questionnaire

Moved the questionnaire up farther on the screen as it was buried and not many users noticed it in its original placement below the favorite agencies.

Favorites title change

I added more clarity that these are saved favorite agencies due to some confusion on where these lived.

BEFORE
Before Find High Fidelity Wireframe
AFTER
Before Find High Fidelity Wireframe
BEFORE
Before Agency Questionnaire High Fidelity Wireframe
AFTER
After Agency Questionnaire High Fidelity Wireframe

Swapped progress bar colors

Similar to the progress bar on the Home and Plan screens, I swapped the colors to have yellow as the foreground and white as the background for consistency.

Hierarchy and clarity of questionnaire

I made it clearer that certain questions can have more than one button answer selected within the content of the questionnaire.

Pressed favorites icon

To show the agency was added to favorites, the heart becomes filled in upon pressing.

Additional tooltip confirmation

For further confirmation of the action when pressed, a tooltip message appears.

BEFORE
Before Agency Detail Page High Fidelity Wirefram
AFTER BOOKMARKED
After Bookmarked Agency Detail Page High Fidelity Wirefram

5. WRAP-UP

Reviewing the solution

FIND.

Inclusive agency search – Search for inclusive adoption agencies or take a questionnaire to match with ones that meet your exact needs.

LEARN.

Adoption educational resources – Read blogs, watch videos and view FAQs on the adoption process.

PLAN.

Process tracker and organization tool – Track deadlines and events throughout the adoption process.

VIEW FINAL PROTOTYPE

SO, WHAT'S NEXT?

To further build upon this MVP, here are some features I’d implement next:

What did I learn?

01. MAKING SOMETHING OUT OF NOTHING

After hearing from some friends about their experiences, including the unfortunate discrimination still present for the LGBTQ+ community, I knew I wanted to tackle this in a project. However, aside from that, I had no where to begin and was overwhelmed at the thought of coming up with a solution to help queer people through the adoption process. Seeing the end result made me reflect on where I started and how a small idea blossomed into an end-to-end mobile application with a clear solution.

02. TRUST YOUR GUT

Creating an end-to-end mobile app concept from the ground up was daunting at times and led to a lot of doubt. Is this the best solution? Could this be done differently? Would someone actually use this? Trusting my intuition throughout (plus user feedback) was key to staying within the overall project brief.

03. USABILITY TESTING IS KEY

This was a conceptual project, but in the real world testing design decisions throughout the project is crucial in avoiding bias and assumptions in the product.