Skills for Bills

Project Overview

The product:

Skills for Bills is a Canadian-based non-profit that helps incarcerated individuals on landing a new job through education. Skills for Bills' primary target users are ex-incarcerated individuals who are looking to gain skills to land a job. This app includes basic tutorials like how to open a CRA account to more advanced certificate programs.

Project duration:

April 2023 to May 2023

The problem:

There are very few resources out there for ex-offenders to find a job and transition into society. The strategy behind Skills for Bills is to provide an all-in-one platform that can support them focusing on education and other resources.

The goal:

Design an app that provides free education and resources necessary to ensure a successful transition back to society.

My Role:

UX designer leading the app and responsive website design from conception to delivery

Responsibilities:

  • Conducting interviews

  • paper and digital wireframing

  • low and high-fidelity prototyping

  • conducting usability studies

  • accounting for accessibility

  • iterating on designs.

User research: summary

During the early stage of the research, I found the biggest pain points many individuals faced during job search after serving time is the lack of skills. Based on an article by the Guardians many employers are eager to employ ex-offenders but discovered that many of them are illiterate. I used this finding to develop interview questions, which are used to conduct user interviews.

Most interview participants agree that there’s a gap in resources available for ex-offenders during the transition period. The feedback received through research made it very clear that users could use a job platform that focuses on providing education and related resources to help them land a job.

Persona 1: Mike

Problem statement:

Mike is a business owner who is looking for an education platform to refer to his employee candidates so he can hire trained and qualified applicants for his business.

Persona 2 : Tyler

Problem statement:

Tyler is an ex-offender who is looking for resources and free programs to gain skills in order to land a job and build a better life.

Ideate

I did an ideation exercise to come up with ideas for how to create an all-in-one platform that focuses on individual users. My focus was specifically on outlining programs and making learning easy and attractive.

Digital Wireframes

After ideating and drafting some paper wireframes, I created the initial designs for the Skills for Bills app. These designs focused on delivering personalized guidance to users to help them through their transition.

The home page is dedicated to a personalized overview of the users’ progress in a program and their saved jobs.

Easy access to app features.

Low-fidelity prototype

To prepare for usability testing, I created a low-fidelity prototype that connected the user flow of viewing a program as well as browsing for jobs.

View Skills for Bills’ low-fidelity prototype

Usability study: Parameters

Study type:
Unmoderated usability study

Participant:
5 participants

Length:
30-45 minutes

Location:
Canada, remote

Usability study: findings

People a clear back button to ensure smooth navigation.

People like to few more program options on display instead of only the one in progress.

People would like to search and filter through job openings based on their location and interest.

Back Button
More Program Options
Job Filter Feature

Mockups

Based on the insights from the usability studies, I applied design changes like adding back button to all the pages to make navigation easier.

Additional design changes included adding a search feature to the Job page, so users can filter jobs within their area or interest.

High-fidelity prototype

The high-fidelity prototype followed the same user flow as the low-fidelity prototype, including design changes made after the usability study.

View the Skills for Bills high-fidelity prototype

Accessibility Consideration

1

Clear labels for interactive elements that can be read by screen readers.

The initial focus of the home screen on personalized progress and recommendations helps define the primary task or action for the user.

2

Sitemap

With the app designs completed, I started to work on designing the responsive website.

I used the Skills for Bills sitemap to guide the organizational structure of each screen’s design to ensure a cohesive and consistent experience across devices.

Responsive Designs

The designs for screen size variation included mobile, tablet, and desktop.

I optimized the designs to fit the specific user needs of each device and screen size.

Takeaways

Impact

What I learned

Users like the overall purpose of the app. They find that the app fills the gaps in job training resources available and make job searching easy.


There’s a huge gap in similar resources available in Canada. So much so that we lack findings during our competitive audit and decided to base the approach on learning-focus apps like Coursera and LinkedIn Learning. I’m hoping Skills for Bills can be the first platform to make an actual impact on this cause.

Next Steps

1

Conduct research on how successful the app is in getting users jobs.

Add more educational resources for users during their transition period, like how to find safe housing.

2

Provide incentives and rewards to users for successfully finishing programs.

3

Let’s work together