Lending a hand to break the cycle of intergenerational offending - that's ISCOS
Industrial and Services Co-operative Society Ltd, more commonly known as ISCOS, is an organisation that is devoted to engaging the community to help ex-offenders and their families gain a foothold in the society.
They do this by providing programmes and services focusing on three main areas: Training and employment, providing social support for ex-offenders in their reintegration and strengthening the family unit.
To involve the community, there are opportunities for the public to make donations to the cause, volunteer for specific roles or for businesses to collaborate with ISCOS to offer job opportunities for ex-offenders.
As part of a class project, we had to redesign the website of a local non-profit organisation. As a former counsellor and caseworker journeying with ex-offenders, I was inspired to redesign a website that offered support and services to ex-offenders.
According to statistics from the Singapore Prison Service, a total of 9545 penal offenders were released in 2017.
Based on two-year recidivism rates, 23.1% of them reoffend and get reincarcerated.
That means that a whopping 2204 ex-offenders commit a crime again within two years from their
release and end up back in prison.
Based on the theory of risk, needs and responsivity, addressing needs such as employment and family support increases the likelihood of an ex-offender surviving for a longer time in the community.
ISCOS plays its part by working with ex-offenders and caseworkers to extend additional support to ex-offenders struggling in the community.
Thus, ex-offenders and (more so) caseworkers of these ex-offenders would likely utilise ISCOS's website to find out more information on how help can be received.
ISCOS also relies on donations and volunteers from the community to drive their cause further.
Our goal for the project was to do a revamp of the site to curate a better experience for the users of the site by means of improved navigation and seamless journeys to allow the respective users to do what they needed to on the site efficiently.
Introducing the Target Users for this project
Individuals who work with or collaborate with ISCOS to provide additional support to ex-offenders
Individuals who want to offer their time or services for projects or programmes that ISCOS runs
Individuals who want to make donations to contribute to the ISCOS
UX Researcher, UX Writer
For this project, we worked in a team of five to redesign ISCOS' site. With a team mate, I co-led the user research of the project to uncover the needs of the various visitors to the site. The insights from the research allowed the team to dive deep into specific user journeys and to streamline their respective processes. I also conducted usability tests and analysed the results from the tests to improve the final product.
I also worked on producing the content for the site as well as developing an approachable brand tone of voice by means of the style of the writing.
Good samaritans need to be equipped with information displayed in a clear and accurate manner so that they can carry out their tasks as intended smoothly and efficiently, to help the underprivileged.
ISCOS' goal is to provide support to ex-offenders as they reintegrate into society. Being able to do this is dependent on funding/volunteering and the organisation's ability to reach out to the ex-offenders or their social workers, allowing them to engage with ISCOS' services.
This primarily means that there must be enough content and details to inform users on what the organisation does and how users can contribute to or engage in the services provided by ISCOS.
The data from our user interviews revealed the following insights into the needs of potential users who fall into one of three categories: donors, volunteers or case workers of ex-offenders.
Framing the Problem
What's Currently Happening?
Are users able to find information easily and effectively? Is it easy to carry out different tasks on the current site?
Following a heuristic analysis of the existing site, we found that this is not the case.
The process to sign up for programmes run by ISCOS or to donate or volunteer could take quite a while as it involved contacting the organisation directly via email or phone calls for the enquiry process and subsequent registration.
Let's take a look at the userflow for volunteers as an example:
Looking for an opportunity to volunteer
Heard of ISCOS through a friend
Chanced upon ISCOS on social media
Volunteered with ISCOS before
Enter ISCOS website to read about opportunities
Find out information on available roles
Process is stalled here!
Am I still interested?
Call ISCOS for more information
Email ISCOS for more information
Does this campaign speak to me?
Sign up for opportunity
Attend event as volunteer
Designing the Solution
We believe that by reorganising the content on the site and streamlining the processes, we will be able to address the lack of clarity and provide a seamless end-to-end experience for the users.
We identified two main areas that would address the needs of our users.
1. Reorganisation of existing content presented in a clear manner
- Clear access to information
- Rethinking the primary navigation
- Visual elements
2. Streamlined registration processes
- Embedded forms
Who benefits from these changes?
For the purpose of this case study, I will focus on two features: clearer access to information and embedded forms.
Clearer Access to Information
"I need to be able to identify the information I require quickly."
The first thing we did to address this was to work on the primary navigation of the site. If the content is organised in a way that is intuitive, this would result in users being able to find what they need quickly and efficiently.
1.0 About Us
2.0 Programmes | Services
3.0 News & Events
4.0 Humans of ISCOS
5.0 Contact Us
6.0 Call (65)6743 7885
We derived the proposed navigation off the results of an information association exercise conducted with 15 users.
1.0 Who We Are
2.0 What We Do
3.0 How You Can Help
4.0 Events & Media
5.0 Contact Us
Next, we designed information on cards to allow for better presentation of information at a quick glance. Take for example the case of looking for volunteering opportunities.
No. of available slots clearly stated
Date of volunteering opportunity
Location of event
Frequency of event
Time of volunteering opportunity
With stated information, if users are interested, they can click onto card to learn more about it
Streamlined Registration Processes: Embedded Forms
"I want a simple and straightforward way to contribute."
Users prefer a quick and easy way to volunteer or make a donation. During the interviews, the word "fuss-free" was often used to describe the ideal process for contribution.
We worked on this by including embedded forms on the site where users could either donate directly to the cause or register for a volunteering opportunity without having to contact ISCOS directly.
Below is an example of how we did up the embedded form for potential volunteers.
Just a few key fields to be filled
Collapsable sections to shorten length of page
Option to register more than one volunteer, should user decide to volunteer with friends
We addressed this by removing the confusing sub categories and list all programmes under the drop-down menu for easy access to the different programmes offered.
How Our Users Allowed Us To Improve our Product
"I can't find what I want to find!"
4 out of 5 users were unable to find the list of programmes offered by ISCOS via the "What We Do" button on the primary navigation bar. We found that users were confused by the sub-categories of the What We Do button on the primary navigation bar as they were all highly similar to each other.
As with any design, we had to put our work to the test. Our users who participated in the testing gave us valuable insights and feedback which we used to further improve our design. For the purpose of this case study, I will focus on two key issues that we addressed from our usability tests.
This went through a further round of iteration, where we removed the name "What We Do" and changed it to "Programmes" instead. The clearer label meant that users did not have to decipher what could possibly fall into said category "What We Do".
"The tone of voice seems inconsistent and almost hostile."
3 out of 5 of our users mentioned that the tone of voice seemed inconsistent at different points of the site. So much so that they found that the lack of information for the ex-offender programmes gave the impression that the tone of the site was prejudiced against ex-offenders.
This was definitely an unexpected finding as it shed light on our subconscious biases when coming up with the copy for the site.
To address this, we had to provide more information for the respective programmes and change the copy to maintain a consistent tone of voice. This also allowed us to reinforce the brand tone of voice throughout the site to achieve a more empathetic and approachable effect.
Friendlier tone of voice
More guiding information to let users know where they are on their journey
We hope to further iterate our designs based on the feedback gathered from our second usability test. Specifically, owing to some problems with the categorisation of the programmes run by ISCOS, we hope to run a second categorisation exercise (cardsort) to understand what kind of categorisation would be more intuitive for users. Once the navigation has been finalised and tested again, we hope to work on the website to allow it to be mobile responsive.
Through the redesign of the website, we found that users were able to make a donation or sign up for volunteering opportunities on the ISCOS website easily. This was an improvement to the initial process of contributing on the website where users had to fill in a PDF form and subsequently email it to ISCOS and wait for their response before being able to contribute.
Caseworkers or family members of our beneficiaries were also able to navigate through the list of programmes and services offered and select and register for approrpiate programmes in a straightforward manner.
We hope these changes would allow ISCOS to expand its reach in the community and carry out their mission to continue supporting ex-offenders and their families as they embark on their journey of rehabilitation and reintegration in the community.
Ding Hui Wen
Kudos to the rest of the Team!
Despite the tight timeline, I enjoyed working on this project as it was related to a cause I really care about. Realistically, I do feel that though there may be awareness on the plight of ex-offenders, there is still much that can be done to support them in their reintegration to the community.
Leading the research of the project was a little daunting at the beginning as there was quite a lot to look into, to understand what the organization stands for as well as to understand the type of users who would be frequent visitors to the site. If time had permitted, it would have been interesting to interview ex-offenders to understand their experience with the organization or community agencies that extend help so as to better customise their user experience as well.
Writing the copy for the website was also quite a challenging one. From the first usability test, I realised some of the unconscious biases that I myself had towards ex-offenders and this surfaced prominently through the copy that I wrote for the task that focused on the user journey specific to ex-offenders. This came as a shock to me, having worked directly with ex-offenders for five years of my career. This incident taught me to pay better attention to the words and tone of voice used when creating content and to consciously bear in mind the brand voice of the website to curate a better experience for the user.