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"We will help you refine your idea"

A successful first idea is the goal of this onboarding system (and it includes some hand-holding)

Photo of Björn Johansson
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The landing page prototype is available at (built for laptops and landscape tablets).

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Why do you want to be OpenIDEO's Visual and User Experience Designer?

I am so excited by the prospect of doing good while working with, and learning from, the OpenIDEO team. Working with others for the social good has always been important to me. Currently I help EIDU ( create learning success among the world's poorest, before that I spent four years designing digital platforms for public service. My private projects and has taught me important lessons about community building. But I still have lots to learn. From you?

How many years of experience do you have?

  • More than 5 years of experience

How did you hear about this challenge?

I've been an OpenIDEO member for a while and read the newsletters quite often. One of them was where I first heard about the challenge.

What did you learn when developing the deliverables in response to the design brief?

A brainstorm on how to meet the brief made me realise that user onboarding is a valuable lense for this, and other, outreach campaigns. I've been a fan of Samuel Hulick for a while but only now did I get around to reading Samuel's book on onboarding. Via the book and the design work I (re-)realised the importance of having one, and only one, clear goal for the user's introduction to a service. I also learned some new geeky CSS stuff and got more efficient in Adobe XD :)

The context

I see a world where exclusion is common and even encouraged. Trump is literally trying to build a wall, Hungary and Poland are creating border camps to keep refugees out and transfobic violence is prevalent.

But I also see strong desire for inclusion and in celebration of diversity. In early April an attack in central Stockholm, Sweden left four people dead. While some people used the incident to try to drum up fear, a much bigger reaction came in the form of a love manifestation two days after the attack. Thousands of people from all of Stockholm gathered one block from the crime scene to be together, show strength and resist fear. Likewise, when president Trump introduced the travel bans protesters took to the streets to show their support for those affected and to actively resist islamofobia.

The challenge

I started by making a few choices. I interpret the brief as being for a campaign aimed at people who can not be reached via OpenIDEO's usual channels, I.E. people who have not heard of OpenIDEO or only have a vague idea of what it is. Since OpenIDEO is a platform for participation rather than consumption I chose to aim the campaign towards people who are socially engaged. My challenge was therefore "How might we get socially engaged people to channel their energy to the OpenIDEO Inclusion challenge?"

The main idea

After researching digital engagement via an academic paper and some articles I held a brainstorming session with my boyfriend. The objective was to create ideas around the campaign message, outreach channel and the campaign's representation on

Our friend the post-it note.

In the output I saw that a really exciting possibility was to create a system that onboards new people with a combination of a specific message, offline activities and an onsite presence. I therefore choose to not follow the instructions in the brief – to produce one deliverable – and instead present an outline of the system. (Also in other projects have I heard that I'm bad at working inside the box.)

The scope

I call it an "outline" because I only show the introduction of OpenIDEO to one group of people – a group protesting the creation of tougher borders around Europe. However, only small adaptations are needed to meet different groups of socially engaged people. I have also only delivered material for the Ideas phase of the inclusion challenge, but with some changes people can also be onboarded to the Inspiration/research phase.

The first prototype

I made my first prototype in the form of a handout for the demonstration and a written concept for the "landing page". I tested these on Sebastian, a colleague of mine who is socially engaged, participates in demonstrations from time to time and has never heard of OpenIDEO. The feedback from Sebastian was super valuable. I had put "Add your story or idea to" as call-to-action on the handout.

The first version of the handout for protesters

The word Story had a strong negative interpretation: "stories are what you share on Facebook, they don't have any impact". Also the word Idea felt wrong to Sebastian – "of one million ideas just one is good and forums I've been in have debated ideas for so long that action was forgotten". It became clear that I needed to communicate, on the handout and on the site, that OpenIDEO is a platform for actually going from ideas to solutions and impact.

The landing page prototype

When I wanted to start building the user flow for the site I got a bit stuck. However, realising that Samuel Hulick, of fame, has written a book was a turning point. I quickly downloaded and read the book, stopping after each chapter to apply Samuel's advice.

Samuel writes a lot about having one, and only one, task for the user and about choosing a task that help the person become better at something. When I analysed how challenges are currently presented on I found that there is a sort of black box between the challenge brief and the "share your idea" form. This empty space is where ideation happens. My realisation was twofold:

- despite that OpenIDEO's siblings IDEO U and DesignKit both teach ideation methods, OpenIDEO leaves the innovators "in the dark" when it comes to ideation methodology

- successful OpenIDEO ideas are well defined and very well presented.

This was an opportunity, because it gave me an answer to Samuel's question "What will your users get better at". The answer was "To generate and present successful ideas."

The goal of the design work thus became "Via the onboarding the person has explored their idea's context and defined one idea for the inclusion challenge."

Via the rest of the chapters of Samuel's book, and by applying methods such as solo brainstorms and journey maps, I quite quickly developed a paper prototype. It's relatively straight forward once one knows what to accomplish :)

Paper sketches / prototypes. Yummie.

The HTML prototype also came together quickly – a few hours of coding was enough.

I tested the HTML prototype on Nina, a friend of mine who is socially aware and have never heard of OpenIDEO. As is always the case with tests I realised some important things. Among them where that it was unclear that the idea author is the one who takes the idea from first outline all the way to implementation (or at least refines it). Nina thought that the author only writes an outline and "professionals at OpenIDEO" do the rest. To mitigate this problem I changed the copy on some parts of the page and added the concept of "step 1" and "step 2". Whether that is enough I don't know – I have not tested the prototype on anyone after the changes.


To increase the possibility that many people can understand and contribute I suggest that the site give the challenge intro and info on the process via both text and video. The main gray of the OpenIDEO brand (#8D8984), when applied to text on white background, is actually not WCAG 2 AAA compliant even at the big text size that I have chosen. Therefore I darked the main color to #575554, thus breaking brand guidelines but enabling access.


As I have mentioned I have only done two validation sessions for the concept and deliverables. This is way to little for me to feel comfortable (but all I could afford for this challenge).


Some of the issues with the concept are:

- Since the message, offline channel and parts of the site content is very specific it takes a lot of human resources if you want to have broad reach. However, I believe that being specific – for example using the integration of refugees when talking to people who are protesting the closing of borders – will result in a larger percentage of site visitors converting to active members.

- Trying to reach socially aware people likely requires that OpenIDEO take a stance on political issues. This can be uncomfortable but I believe that OpenIDEO can solve this challenge.

- Parts of the landing page, including the main call-to-action, is specific to the Ideas phase. For the Research/inspiration phase quite large parts would need to be different. This takes resources.


The main goal of the design work was to increasing the number of ideas for the inclusion challenge. With an onboarding mindset I designed a system that is specific but flexible and which I believe will help people get better at crafting ideas.

Prototype content

Images for the prototype and the video "Stina's idea" are by photographers Louisa Gouliamaki (AFP Photo), Alexandros Avramidis (Reuters) and Sakis Mitrolidis (AFP Photo) as well as from Unsplash: Alexis Brown, Jean-Frederic Fortier, Nina Strehl and Morgana Bartolomei.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Luisa Fernanda

The amount of effort you have put into this entry is incredible. It's very interesting how you focus on inclusivity of hard to reach groups and have really thought about the bridge between online and offline. A provocation moving forward is thinking how to create a deeper hierachy of information and pair down content to get across the message faster. I love the concept and roll out across the digital and physical space.

Photo of Björn Johansson

Thank you for your feedback luisa covaria . It was fun work – finding these kinds of "systems" where different channels/activities enhance each other is very exciting.

After I read your comment I looked at the landing page again. Now I also see that there are problems with the density and volume of info in the different sections of the page. It would be good to offer a quicker path to the "idea outline form" while still communicating the essentials. Perhaps we should also let people dig deeper than what is encouraged on the page today. The inverted pyramid can be an inspiration (, as could Elon Musk's pitch structure (

Thanks again for the feedback. :)

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