H2O Mobile App

Solution to Resource Insecurity 


A mobile app for people facing essential resource security issues.

The starting point

The UMSI New York Trek is a yearly program that incorporates entrepreneurship process to UX Design. In this project, participants wireframe, design and test an ideation and pitch to companies in New York City.

Meet the team


UX Designer






User Researcher


UX Designer

Ideation Origin

The rapid technology evolution does not benefit the economically underprivileged population as much as other social classes. With that recognition, my teammates and I aspired to develop a solution with the prevalent technology available for low-income population based on the problems they have. To navigate our early user interviews, we narrowed down the interviewees to people serving and being served at local charity organizations.

Understanding target population

6 interviews were conducted to narrow down our focuses, which took place in some of the most noted charity organizations in Ann Arbor, including St. Andrew’s Church, Delonis Center, and Food Bank Ann Arbor.
After the interview, we screened through the script and recording to filter out the quotes we believe as constructive to our ideation:













Target Population Traits

  • People who identify as low-income population

  • People who recently move to the area and face survival issue

  • Charity organization manager

Pain points

  • Need help with basic needs when unexpected financial crisis hits

  • Need to get rid of the shame of “desperate for help” or “being donated”

  • Need to familiarize themselves with food resources when they migrate

We then organized the quotes by cutting the quotes into pieces, filtered quotes again and classified quotes into four categories. This diagram assisted us to integrate the information we gather from users as follows:

Building the persona

Constructing the solution

What is the greatest pain point displayed?

Collectively, as shown above, the information flow regarding free food (or other charity resources) flows around receivers (John and Michael), providers (St. Andrew’s and Delonis) and transmitters (Homeless community and social workers).


Michael, among the group of people we observed, displayed the highest pain with his problems. His plight involved his lack of social resources for help as well as the mental stigma surrounding his situation. As we retrieved back to our ideation origin as to leverage information inaccessibility to underprivileged population, Michael fitted into that model the best.

What should we build?

The reason why Michael is in trouble is that the settled information flow circle. In order to solve his problem, we need to set up a new information channel for him to access social resources. Considering the prevalent technology available, we believe that there can be a platform to conduct an automatic information searching and selection for Michael.

Why are there no alternatives?

The advent of smartphone technology along with governmental welfare program changed the way low-income population approach information resource. The Obama Phone program, for instance, provides free phone, texting & calling with a subsidized data plan for an eligible low-income population. A considerable number of low-income population bear smartphones now*. 


Googling social services typically directs them to pages with a thorough list of services. Newcomers to the area or those who are not equipped adequate information literacy will not be able to filter out the information they need.


As a result, we need to develop an easily manageable solution on cellphones to provide free food information for people with food insecurity issues like Michael.


*Bastawrous, Andrew, and Matthew J Armstrong. “Mobile health use in low- and high-Income countries: an overview of the peer-Reviewed literature.” Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, vol. 106, no. 4, 2013, pp. 130–142., doi:10.1177/0141076812472620.

Wireframe & Prototype

1. Landing Page: When users launch the app, they are most likely seeking immediate help. A map showing service available around is appropriate for this need.

2. Detailed Info Page: an information bar will pop up when a location is clicked.

3. Simplified Sign up for alerts: Only texts or email required, no password or security question. Users sign up only to receive alerts from a certain place. They do not  conduct sensitive action with their account.

4. ​Share: Users may assist their friends in need by sharing the information

5. Contacts: Users may share info or chat with their friends

6. Account summary: Display registered information. Users can delete their account or manage their subscription at here.

User Testing & Evaluation of Prototype

We tested our prototype with Michael and some other projected users, and received the following feedbacks:

1. Need for contact info

Users express their concern for the authenticity of the information we provide. Adding contact information not only validates the information, but also provide a channel for users to consult directly with the organizations.

2. Ambiguity of action

There are two screens displayed when a location clicked, so users are unsure of which screen will show up to conduct their intended action (Detailed info & Share). Integrating two functions into one screen greatly simplifies the process.

3. Other needs

Food is not our users' only concern. According to feedback from Morgan, a lot of users have trouble finding appropriate shower places during summer. Our information resource shall expand to another area to benefit more people with various needs.  




Intro pages

What H2O Does and how to use

Loading and Landing

Animation for backend loading

View detailed listings and find contact information


Navigation for selected location

The H2O project is visioned as a non-profit platform to assist people in need. Sustainable architecture is yet to be developed. We also hope that what we develop will not just solve people's immediate demand, but also help them to earn a better life. 


According to our interviews, we also realized that social workers, as well as charity organization managers, displayed their pain points in serving people. A provider-side of the platform can be a great start to addressing those issues.

Pitching & Takeaways

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