NCUA “Hit The Road” Financial Literacy Game
The National Credit Union Administration is known for engaging families and communities to establish local relationships for their Credit Union members. To continue their education approach and increase awareness of money management concepts for a new generation of account holders, we were asked to create an opportunity for children to learn about credit unions and financial literacy through an online game.
The parameters of the project were explored during our Strategy First™ sessions, with the following framework being defined:
- Do not use old or exclusionary technologies like Flash. Use browser standard HTML5 and allow it to be tablet and touch friendly
- Game should provide 25 -35 minutes of engagement
- It must be compliant with Section 508 to allow access to all
- The audience would be youth aged 7 -12 years and have representations of all ethnicities and physical dispositions
- Players should earn and spend money, have a timeline of goals as well as opportunities to have experiences, and learn new things, all while having fun
- A final report card on how the player performed would sum up the experience and provide a portable memento of the game
- The goal: to teach financial literacy to kids without them realizing it
The Ignition72 team prepared several high level concepts that approached the opportunity from different angles. Being avid gamers, we had plenty of experience to draw from. The following key components of the game were defined through close collaboration with the client:
- Choose from many different characters, each possessing different skill sets that would impact the game outcome
- Have the game concept be built around teenagers paying for a trip to go skiing, and they must earn money along the way
- Allow players to be exposed to concepts such as Opportunity Cost, Balancing your Checkbook, Financial Planning (managing a budget), Loan Management (being responsible for a loan and a payment schedule), and more in a game play environment
- Provide opportunities to make money, leveraging character skills whenever possible
- Create wildcards where bad things happen that can be mitigated with forward planning
- Tempt the player with diversions, including sightseeing, purchasing souvenirs and more, to demonstrate the importance of a budget and financial restraint
The game was fully mapped out to allow the Ignition72 team to create detailed storyboards and game mechanics documents. These documents were provided to the NCUA team to facilitate review and approval prior to the build out of the game.
Rather than build the game completely from scratch, the Ignition72 development team leveraged the Impact game engine to provide a core framework.
- Sketched out character concepts, which were scanned and built out in Illustrator
- Created landscape and cityscape artwork to reference the actual location of the player, while serving up interesting facts and tidbits about each location
- Composed original music to act as a backdrop during the game
- Developed the game core at which point player skills and external variables were adjusted to maximize the fun, while making it as realistic as possible
Even though the game is one complete unit, it was designed and built to allow for future enhancements, either making more difficult levels, or adding in different trips or adventure scenarios. You can play the game at: tinyurl.com/Ignition72NCUA
City of Takoma Park, Maryland
Takoma Park is a highly engaged community located outside Washington DC, with a very active group of local stakeholders made up of local businesses and residents. The city website was getting old and difficult to use, so the city published an RFP looking for a company to repair and update the existing Drupal site, and bring it into accessibility compliance.
Context and Challenge:
Over time and after working with multiple web resources, the cities Drupal website had become ungainly to manage, update and use. Visitors could not pay for municipal services or fines, rich media was limited, and the site failed to meet newer compliance standards like WCAG and 508 compliance.
Fearful of starting over the city issued an RFP to try and fix the existing site.
Process and Insight:
Ignition72 submitted a proposal that demonstrated that the cities budget for fixing their site was sufficient to completely redesign and rebuild the site, using WordPress. This technological shift reduced their ongoing hosting and maintenance costs, simplified and distributed the management of the site, and allowed the city to start with a fresh new, completely compliant design and technology that could evolve and grow into the future.
Ignition72 understood the complexity of Takoma Parks’ situation as it related to their old site. While the city requested a repair job, we saw the opportunity, for the same budget, to refresh the city site with updated technology that would not only reduce their ongoing costs, but distribute the management of the site to increase its use and utility.
The Takoma Park site has been live since 2015 and while it has grown exponentially in content and capabilities, the core site and technology deployed by Ignition72 continues to save the city money, engage and provide information to the local community, and increasingly automate community touch points, such as paying municipal taxes, tickets and fines, and more.
e-QIP Security Clearance Form
For decades U.S. Government agencies used the dreaded SF-86 form for granting security clearances. Users seeking clearance had, until 2019, to use a PDF form that spanned 127 pages. A government contractor, True Tandem, won the contract to re-create this form into an easy-to-use self-guided form that users could complete and submit online; they then hired us to do all the user experience testing, design the form, test it again, and make improvements.
Context and Challenge:
The paper form, even if submitted online, was difficult, inflexible, and massive. Users have to gather a lot of information for the form (sometimes dating back decades, such as high school diplomas, previous addresses, and contact information for relatives). Finding your place on the form to fill in this information as you gathered it was onerous and frustrating. On the other end, the U.S. agencies and contractors who use this information to conduct the security clearance research have to manage folders of paper and flip through 127 pages to find one piece of information.
Process and Insight:
The Ignition72 team met extensively with the GSA, OPM, and other relevant agencies to gather comments and ideas for the new form. Over 100 individual user tests were conducted, facilitated by Ignition72. Our team led the participants through the test, gathered information, and wrote reports that would inform the design of the SF-86.
Our team then designed the form, using the user testing information as well as ongoing testing. The result is a form style that is used as a model for other federal forms. Some of the mobile design features in this case were incorporated into the mobile U.S. Design Standards.
Users have a friendly, easy-to-use form that does not overwhelm, and security clearance investigators have an online tool that provides user information in a quick and clear format.
Legal Navigator website
This website was built pro bono by Microsoft for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), a U.S. Government agency that supports over 100 nonprofits in the U.S. to ensure equal access to legal services. The point of the website was to demonstrate how their Artificial Intelligence tool could help LSC. Another company was brought in to build out the rest of the site. Unfortunately, they did not have adequate user experience skills to create a fully functioning tool.
Context and Challenge:
LSC issued an RFP for user testing on the LegalNav website. The users to be tested were indigenous groups in Alaska, and native Hawaiians on the more remote islands. The purpose of using these groups was to ensure that populations not typically involved in website decisions were specifically contacted.
Process and Insight:
Ignition72 was selected to conduct this testing. Our team started with pre-planning, conducting research about those areas and surveying local legal aid officials and other stakeholders to learn about the environment. We met with Alaska and Hawaii officials to plan out when, where and with whom we should conduct testing. Users were recruited, and testing was conducted in both locations.
We use a broad range of tools and software for user research, dependent on what and whom and where we are testing. Our remote users in Alaska had varied levels of access to Wi-Fi, so some of our testing was offline, and most of our online testing was on mobile devices, the only devices they have access to. We also tested sight-impaired users in Alaska, which gave us keen insight into the way the might use the website.
We delivered fully detailed reports, high-level summaries, as well as presentations. We also provided:
- Data-backed identification of most common pain points and areas of improvement on the website
- Google HEART metrics, which provide accurate measures of:
- Task Success
With this data, we were able to identify drop points, abandonment, time to task, and strategies to improve the website for all users.
LSC then hired us to make the fixes that we identified in the user testing, and then hired us again to improve the design of the site to make the entire process of locating legal help during times of crisis a lot easier.
Houston-Galveston Area Council Website
The Houston Galveston Area Council provides information and consolidated services for 13 counties in Texas. These cost saving efforts ensure that the entire region achieves economies of scale for shared priorities such as hurricane recovery efforts, clean air initiatives, veteran services and much more. Their website serves as a portal to many of these initiatives, and is used by government staff, elected officials, the business community and the general public.
When Ignition72 first met H-GAC, their website was suffering from several deficiencies:
- No mobile engagement
- Continued use of Flash for key content areas
- A navigation system that had no consistency
- Each department organized content to meet their specific needs
- Accessing key parts of the site could be 3, 5 or 8 clicks from the home page
- A brand identity which was inconsistently applied (again, as a result of different departments)
- A home page that was cluttered and crowded with masses of information as all departments vied for the home page real estate
- Overall a dated feel as the site had not been refreshed in over 5 years.
The Ignition72 team employed their Strategy First™ approach by meeting with the H-GAC team to fully understand their priorities and goals, as well as likes and dislikes. This included meeting with each department to hear their perspectives and to share the unified vision that we would adopt moving forward.
Specific initiatives included:
- Defining a core functionality scope of work, capturing all current and desired functionality. In this case, most functionality was carried over from the previous site since we re-used their CMS.
- Reorganizing the information architecture to reduce the number of clicks to reach desired content and standardize the navigation of the site. (Interior pages were crowded and had many navigation points)
- Designing new wireframes to create a transparent navigation structure that reveals the wealth of content on the site, and gets visitors to their destination immediately.
- Establishing a new site look and feel that is optimized for desktop, tablet and mobile, and achieves the core goal of making content easy to find and consume.
Key to the success of this project was working within the IT constraints of the organization: the new site would need to redefine engagement and content consumption, without changing the core structure of the site or its functionality.
The Ignition72 team prepared style tiles to define the site look and feel, as well as multiple site concepts to demonstrate how the style could be applied. After working with the leadership of H-GAC we narrowed down the options.
Even though the CMS of the site has not changed, the new site:
- Is now fully responsive, accommodating users of all types of devices and screen sizes.
- Has an audience focused home page: Serving many different types of visitors, the site now segments content based on the end user, not the existing department structure. This makes the content easier to find and navigation more intuitive.
- Established an open architecture organization where the home page acts as a large navigation element helping visitors get to any content in under four clicks.
- Rolled out a new, more modern and progressive site design, keeping the focus on the content, with ample opportunities for each department to customize their own landing pages for their specific audiences.
The site went live on April 21, 2014. New visitors to the site are introduced through an interactive guide that only appears the fi rst time they view the site. The H-GAC team have a new site, but without changing any of their internal systems, process or past learning.
By employing Strategy First™, our team was able to fully understand the client need and their users’ concerns, and design a solution that is as unique as their organization, all while limiting the negative impact that a complete overhaul can have in a large organization.