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My colleagues and I were tasked with creating a new virtual platform designed to empower young adults with essential life skills, such as developing their credit score, filing taxes, and other related subjects. 

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YMCA Life Skills Education Portal

Project type

Concept Design


April 10, 2023 - April 24, 2023




Project Manager

The Brief
Based on a mock client, the YMCA, we created a platform that would appeal to the largest group of smartphone owners, which are 18 - 29 year olds, according to a research project conducted by the Pew Research Center. I acted as the project manager for a team of 4, other roles included head of research, head of digital design, and head of presentation design. 

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Researching and Writing

Discovery & Research

We began by asking ourselves, what are life skills? We realized that this definition can be broad and can include many skills. So, while writing out survey questions and after conducting one user interview, we realized that we needed to be more specific and define the categories of life skills in our interviews so that we could gather more insight on actionable data when conducting the rest of our interviews. 

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Personal Finance

Budgeting, Filing Taxes, & How to Build Credit

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Professional Development

Navigating Difficult Conversations, Lease Agreement, & Resume Writing

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Health & Wellness

First Aid & How to Pick Out Health Insurance

Gathering Research Data

After we redefined the specifics of the information we needed the gather, the team conducted 4 additional User Interviews (for a total of 5) and collected 9 Survey Responses. Then, I gathered our team for an Affinity Mapping exercise to help us empathize with our target market, and form insights about our interviews we could use moving forward.


Shown below, are some of our insights:


Most of our interviewees said they would revisit things they had learned more than once


When seeking a new life skill, they usually have a specific topic in mind and will use the search feature to find it


Most young adults use video-based platforms and prefer short videos


Some of their frustrations come from having to rely on their own judgment too often, and not knowing if they can trust the source of where the materials are coming from

I then independently revisited our affinity map & reread all the data points, regrouping them into an Empathy Map of what a young adult seeking life skills thinks, feels, does & says. 

I wanted to ensure the Problem Statement and How Might We Statements we wrote as a team were truly in line with what our users were saying. I felt these specific quotes (below) were a true depiction of what our target audience experiences when seeking life skills. 


Information on life skills can be hard to sort through, because a lot of people are trying to make money online. 

When I use YouTube, I feel like someone is helping me and explaining with instructions how to do stuff.

It's helpful to have a person on the screen to help with a situation when a person isn't around in real life.

With our user research complete we came up with a Hypothetical Archetype based off a combination of traits from our interviewees; the behaviors they displayed, goals they talked about, and frustrations they showed. A User Persona allows us as designers a way to empathize with our target audience and a way to base our decisions about design, on research rather than opinions or assumptions. 

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Imagine you are Erin.. 

Setting the Scene


Erin, who recently moved out on his own, needs to file his taxes for the first time, he wants to save money by filing them himself, but researches on Google and YouTube and gets overwhelmed by the amount of results. He isn't sure which videos are a reliable source, and eventually ends up paying a third party to file his taxes for him.


He wishes he would have learned about this from his guardians or while in school..  


How many times have you come across an essential life skill that you wish you would have learned earlier on? 

Image by Kelly Sikkema

Sketching and Ideation

Our team now had the data needed to start sketching and ideating what type of solution might help our young friend Erin find the trustworthy life skills video content he is researching. We started with agreeing upon specific features needed within a mobile phone application. 

We choose a mobile app so that we could ensure accessibility to our main target audience group, young adults who may not have a laptop or home computer, but would likely have a cell phone. 

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Solution Features

With our solution features, and Erin's needs in mind.. 
It was time to start sketching.

(My favorite part, here are a few of mine)

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Prototyping & Testing

Based on our combined sketches and our solution features, our team created a Prototype to test the functionality of these features and ensure a smooth user experience for Erin. We also conducted Usability Testing on our Wireframes to validate our design decisions and make improvements based on user Feedback. View the gallery below to see some of the updates we made to our design based on feedback. 

Passion Led Us Here

High Fidelity Prototype

See our High Fidelity Prototype Below

Final Thoughts

One final feature that is essential for our next steps is the "Connect with a Mentor" feature. We have included this feature in the bottom navigation of our prototype because our data indicates that young adults want to connect with adults who have more life experience, and we want to ensure that our young adult users feel supported by the YMCA in their pursuit of enriching their knowledge and lives.


Given more time, I would also like to explore additional features to enhance user experience. I would want to conduct more user interviews, and create mockups for usability testing to see if interactive quizzes, games, and (potential) full courses added to the platform would interest and further engage our target audience.


As the project manager, I led the way in keeping our project in line with the project scope, timeline, visual guidelines, and content requests, as well as ensuring our creation process maintained a focus on user needs throughout the entire process. 

In conclusion, our team was able to successfully create a virtual platform designed to empower young adults with essential life skills. By conducting thorough research, user testing, and development, we were able to create a visually appealing and engaging platform that meets the needs of our target audience as well as our client. We are proud of the work we have done and believe that our platform could have a positive impact on the lives of many young adults.

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