First-time Volunteers: Ripple App

Ripple a scheduling app for busy Canadians, or first-time volunteers, to sign up and help out for one-time, non-profit run events.

volunteering app

Ripple is an app for busy Canadians (21-35 yrs) to sign up and volunteer for for one-time, non-profit run events. 


Personal Project
Completed at Red Academy

Survey and Interviews
Personas and User Flow
Wireframes (Sketch)
User Testing (InVision)
High Fidelity Design (Sketch)
Branding and Illustration (Illustrator)

The Problem

The problem first appeared from my roommate told me she was having trouble recruiting volunteers for the Folk Festival. When we talked, this wasn’t news to me; there are never enough volunteers, regardless of the industry, but I started researching to see if this was a valid problem space.

What I found was that: Canadians, specifically 21-35 years old, lead busy lives. They have good intentions of helping their community, but already find it hard to make time for themselves, let alone making long-term volunteer commitments. The priority is having balanced schedule outside of work. A survey from Statistics Canada backed this statement, revealing that 67% of Canadians don’t volunteer because they don’t have enough time, and 62% can’t make a long-term commitment


At the start of the project, I sent out a survey to gather insight around general perceptions on volunteering, how people currently find volunteer opportunities, and habits around making plans. Using the 28 survey responses, some of the biggest barriers became features in the app. These findings helped guided the process for a user persona and user flow for my wireframes. 


Wireframes and User Testing

Developing a user flow and initial wireframes was the most challenging and rewarding part of the process. It’s easy to get lost in your own idea of the app. Questions and scenarios were constructed to give users a general goal, without giving away information that was biased. I learned to test often, and be specific about what you’re testing for.

Between the first and second round of wireframes, I found that context was crucial for user testing. I gave each participant three tasks to complete using a mid-fidelity design through InVision, which provided more accurate data that helped drive my design decisions. Key findings:

  • Planning happens week-to-week: 3 participants based their decision-making on the day of the week, rather than the actual date format (01/01). This was reflected in the second round of wireframes through prioritized search functions and inserting language such as “today”, “tomorrow” and “this week.”

  • Get rid of the “fun” (aka confusing) language: The original wireframes included compelling language such as “Count me in!”. All participants found the language confusing when it came to making a decision to sign-up. The informal language was removed in the second round to increase confidence around navigation and decision-making.

  • Simpler navigation: A hamburger menu icon was placed in the top left of the screen, but 2 participants found it hard to reach. With only 4 main functions in the navigations, the icon was replaced with a visible menu at the bottom of the screen.


brand concept

Every action counts, and these actions create a larger, deeper effect than any one person. Ripple’s design is playful at heart, and uses a limited colour palette with endless hues when multiplied on top of each other. 

Branding and UI Design

There was a lot of excitement for this app as I was testing the prototype with participants. It was amazing to see people genuinely excited about volunteering, at whatever capacity they could; this led to the concept behind the logo and visual identity of Ripple. The ripple effect influenced every aspect of the brand, including the logo, colour palette, and organic style of illustrations.

Final Thoughts

This project taught me so many fundamentals of design thinking and UX design. I found some aspects challenging (but rewarding): interviewing participants with empathy and a qualitative intent, collecting and distilling my own data, expanding my understanding of good UI practices, and branding the app with full creative control.

To take this project further, I would consider:

  • Implementing features to emphasize a buddy system

  • Add more flexible search flows and fine-tune the language around the app

  • Developing a post-sign up process after a volunteer experience (ratings, social media, etc).

You can read about the process in full detail, or try out the prototype I used for testing.