Make It. MSP.

The labor force growth rate in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region has been slowing to a crawl in recent years and is expected to come to a standstill by 2020. By that time, a total of over 100,000 jobs will go unfilled due to lack of talent. About 10% of the jobs affected will be in tech.

Make It. MSP. was born out of the need to attract and retain skilled workers to the region to fill this near-term talent gap.

During the course of this project, I worked in collaboration with two fellow UX designers, Greg Carlson and Dylan Leavitt-Phibbs.

Researching the Problem Space

Before meeting our client, we began this project by taking a deep dive into exploring Make It. MSP. as an organization and getting to know its mission and initiatives. This began with looking at their website and analyzing what we found there to interpret the problem space they work in and who their users are. We wanted to compare what we found with the information presented by the client to see if it might uncover any inconsistencies.

Identifying Knowns & Unknowns

Still prior to meeting with the client, due to limited time constraints, we wanted to try to get as much of a handle on the inner workings of Make It. MSP. so we could spend the valuable face-to-face client time discussing more important details. As a large group, we collaboratively contributed to a list of knowns, unknowns, assumptions, and questions that would help guide our conversation with the client.

Defining Users & Goals

Make It. MSP. has existing user segments that they target, but their segmentation is pretty broad. Because we know that messages that try to appeal to everyone often end up appealing to no one, we narrowed the audience for this campaign to young adults (with an emphasis on people of color) from Midwestern cities who want to make a global impact and are looking for an entrepreneurial culture. We refined this into the following user goal statement:

Our user is considering Minneapolis-St. Paul as a relocation destination and wants to make sure there are opportunities available to make a positive, global impact in a supportive community.

Creating a Persona

Based on the demographic information that Make It. MSP. had already gathered, we created a brief persona story for our user. We included concrete details that brought to life a typical users' more abstract goals. 

Barriers to User Goals

According to a perceptions survey completed by Greater MSP, which is Make It. MSP.'s parent organization, outsiders have indicated that they do not know much about the local tech scene in Minneapolis-St. Paul. The region is mostly associated, unfortunately, with cold weather and perceived remoteness.

Ideating Solutions

After refining our user and their goals, as well as the barriers to those goals, we created categories that could help spark ideas during our brainstorming session. After coming up with a variety of concepts, we looked at ideas that overlapped multiple categories and how we could relate some of the disparate parts to each other and combine them into a larger system.

We ended up focusing in on the creation of a hack-a-thon event that would help users overcome the sense of the unknown by providing a reason to visit. This event would showcase the diversity of the region, allow outsiders to experience the entrepreneurial and globally-minded atmosphere of the local tech community, and create personal connections and emotional ties with current residents.

To support the hack-a-thon, we would also create a landing page that could be used as part of an email or social media marketing campaign, as well as a digital matchmaking tool that would help potential attendees find a project or problem space that might interest them.

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When it was time to prototype our ideas, we split up and tackled different parts of the system. I created wireframes showing how the mobile-friendly landing page, digital matchmaking tool, and Facebook ad might look, behave, and connect with one another. These were early concepts, but we wanted them to speak to the Make It. MSP. brand for the purposes of our pitch.

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PRESENTING & Refining Our System

We presented our system of solutions to Make It. MSP. and received some feedback on how our ideas might be improved. We individually took this feedback to create a final system. My designs are in the presentation deck below.