Entrepreneurial Opportunities for Stand Up, Austin!

We are Stand Up, Austin! And we exist to change the culture of Civic Engagement in Austin.

We’ve been given the opportunity to engineer the context and experiences in which people participate civically in order to shift the perception of civic life.

We’ve found from the readings in the Q4 Theory Class some big ideas that’ve got us thinking about what our theory is for how we are going to design things in our careers and lives. Together, Scott, Maria, and Josh have created a concept that revolves around changing the culture of civic life in Austin. We are doing this by changing the context and experiences in which people participate civically in order to shift the perception of civic activities.

Power Trumps, “Public” Policy

But why did we need to go to these lengths? Why did the city feel they needed to approach AC4D, a small design school, to help them improve civic participation?

“For example, one representative endorsed town hall meetings because they make “people feel like you’re listening.”

…Another representative suggested that stakeholder meetings are “more of a PR move,” that they “make sure people don’t complain.”” – Chris Urbina Meierling

Because our legislative system, a system created to serve the people, have developed into a system that is broken to that cause. Public Policy is no longer created by the people and for the people. It’s created by elected officials. And it is there that I want to start.

In this class, we’ve talked about doctors, designers, and now in this last section of readings ….civic people. What do all these three professions have in common? They all began with a purpose to serve the patients, user, and the citizen.

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One could argue, however, that because it’s human nature to be selfish that when put in a position of power these roles have transformed into professions centered around tribalism. This has caused them to shift more towards inward appeals rather than inclusion of patient, user, and citizen participation.

So if we assume for a second that this is all 100% true. That the reason for low civic engagement in Austin is because slowly our government has shifted to a point where participation from its residents are not apart of shaping policy and in some cases is unwanted.

“Often we’ve already made up of mind on what’s happening before the council meetings.” -Council Representative

What are we to do? This is why we feel that Stand Up Austin!, Key Up, Pulse of Austin, and Housing Assist are all unique and powerful ways to approach this problem. Because they are all centered around the users. The approach we’ve all been able to take, because being designers and talking to people was all new to us, we were able to separate ourselves from the process of fixing low engagement.

We defamiliarized ourselves from the environment in which civic designers  work in by removing ourselves from it to focus on talking to residents and hearing their stories. We were so focused on learning about learning the tools to do human-centered research effectively that we forgot what problems we were tasked to do from the city.

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As a result, once we came back to the prompt in ideation and prototype testing we had rich data for what problems users were actually having and because the research was framed around residents living in Austin our designs actually tied back to civic engagement very effectively.

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“This may be one reason why civic design projects and programs seem to be flourishing in diverse institutions—places where different fields, methods, and theories intermingle without the drag of tradition or discipline. The liberal arts, broadly construed, are especially significant as we engage civics. – Chris LeDantec (Civic Design)

So, then speaking more specifically about Stand Up, Austin! Given the insightful thoughts put forth by the readings in Chris LeDantec, Sandjar Kozubaev, Terry Irwin, and Marc Rettig we thought what are the possible opportunities for our vision for Stand Up, Austin!

“Civic design aims to do more than develop communications, products, and services in support of existing organizations, doing the work they’ve always done. Rather, civic design aims to contribute to new forms of living together – Chris Ledantec (Civic Design)


Upon reflection of the readings, there are numerous opportunities for SUPATX’s broader vision and entrepreneurial role in reshaping civic life.

Value-Based Civics

Stacey Chang from UT Austin’s Design Institute for Health wrote about how Dell Medical School is rethinking medical student education and formation, and how value-based health care is a “transformation – happening across the industry – is opening up tons of opportunities for entrepreneurs.”

“…students of medicine and other health professions need different training. At the Dell Medical School, students transition earlier than usual from classroom learning to clinical rotations in order to clear time in their second and third year, when they are taught design skills.” – Stacey Chang, UT Austin’s Design Institute for Health

Similarly, how might SUPATX rethink how artists are exposed to civic life?

What if we expose artists to our perception framework and demonstrate how their art can create new contexts for civic engagement and lead to the reshaping of perceptions to meaningfully impact the civic health of their communities?

Just imagine the above quote saying “this transformation–happening across various forms of art–is opening up tons of opportunities for community and political organizations”?

Friction For Community

Steve Selzer in his article called “The Fiction of No Friction” tells about how they design friction in Airbnb.

“I’m here to urge us all to design it [friction] back in… I’m talking about intentionally adding the kinds of friction that lead to self-reflection, self-discovery, and personal growth.” – Steve Selzer

We know that comics can talk about taboo topics. This is an example of the opportunity to use friction when co-designing content with comics.

How might we explore friction was a methodology developed with other artists to shape new contexts and experiences to reshape perceptions of civic life?


Analogs (a person or thing seen as comparable to another) for how SUPATX might be productized and brought to market.

Transition Design

“Transition Design is an area of design research, practice and study that was conceived at the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University….” However, it is now taking place as a conversation and “presented here as an open source concept and an invitation for engagement and co-evolution with educators, researchers and practitioners from design and related disciplines. The areas of service design and design for social innovation are now internationally recognized approaches with networks of researchers, educators and practitioners working to evolve the practice and develop accepted methodologies, tools and processes. Our proposal is to open a space in which Transition Design can evolve in a similar way and connect to other global transition initiatives.”

For SUPATX, we can lead a conversation and be an open source concept and an invitation for engagement and co-design with artists, community organizers, and municipal employees for the development of innovative civic engagement platforms. SUPATX endeavors to develop recognized approaches to evolve the context and experience of civic life and reshapes the culture of civic engagement.

Atlanta Community Engagement Playbook 

The Atlanta Community Engagement Playbook is designed for those with a shared interest in building successful engagement processes and reaching higher levels of community engagement. Higher levels of engagement mean that residents own and take leadership over civic change, rather than just observing or even providing feedback. Strong engagement is built on dialogue with a natural push and pull. This playbook has been designed to mirror that constructive process. It is meant to help service providers and community associations lead successful and collaborative engagements.”

For SUPATX, the playbook is an obvious analog for how we might share our experience, methodology, best practices, learnings, etc. It’s a step by step guide for how to work with artists and develop new contexts and experiences for civic life.

“You never change things by changing the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”  – Buckminster Fuller

We are Stand Up, Austin! And we exist to bring artists and civic organizations together to engineer new contexts & experiences of civic life.

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Chase Bank App Nigeria: Product Strategy & Feature Brief

For the last assignment Product Management class we practiced creating Product Strategy & Feature Brief for banking app we were working on in Q2 – a deliverable that explains a product’s roadmap and the reasoning behind its creation and priorities made.

A competition on American market of mobile banks is incredibly high. Almost every bank has an app, and most of them are able to implement all the features customers wish the mobile bank would be able to do – from checking account balance to depositing a check. So, MVP (Minimum Viable Product) for banking app in the United States should be very functional and powerful to survive.

But not every country has this high competition. I decided to imagine that my product will be launching on another market, not so spoiled as American, that will let me truly go through the process from MVP to fully functional process.

So, meet Chase Bank Nigeria! One of the pioneers of mobile banking in the country.


The country of Nigeria has been going through rapid economic and technological growth in the past several years and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. With internet access and smartphones becoming more and more affordable, their penetration rate has skyrocketed. Nearly every person between ages 18 and 35 who live in metropolitan areas of Nigeria owns a smartphone with an internet connection, and a lot of them don’t own a computer.

A mobile application and messaging applications, in particular, are on the rise as well. Combination of added convenience and very moderate data consumption make mobile application a center of not just communication amongst the users, but also the key element of online retail, e-commerce, and overall financial activities.

As it relates to the financial sector, most people in Nigeria find it extremely inconvenient to have to visit a physical branch of a bank in order to perform basic financial transactions. Most young people would prefer to use a mobile application for banking if it saves them time and if it consumes less cellular data than a website. Customers also demand mobile application that is modern and match usability standard of the western world. Their needs are not satisfied with what’s currently on the market. At the same time, customers generally aren’t wealthy and are used to micromanage their very limited amounts of funds.

JPMorgan Chase is planning a full roll-out of its banking services onto the Nigerian market and establishes the brand as modern and forward-thinking. In alignment with that, this document outlines the vision for the initiative of creating a modern mobile banking application that serves growing needs of prospective Chase Bank customers in Nigeria.



Chase Bank mobile application is a core component of the roll-out of Chase product and service offerings on Nigerian market. It allows users to keep their finances under control in an easy and unobstructed way.

Chase Bank mobile application design is based on these four behavioral insights:

  1. The majority of customers in Nigeria own very limited amount of funds and have to micromanage their finances.
  2. Not having clear visibility to each and every transaction associated with a debit or credit card that the customer owns steers them towards avoiding using any bank cards at all.
  3. Many banking customers in Nigeria still have to visit a branch in order to perform a money transaction, but only because their banks don’t provide a more convenient way to do that.
  4. Most customers in Nigeria would prefer to email or message their bank, instead of having a phone call.


  1. The majority of customers in Nigeria own very limited amount of funds and have to micromanage their finances.

While Nigeria is going through the rapid growth phase, 60.9% families in the country are still below the poverty line, another 20% are very close to it. For many, that means that they need to keep a very close eye on their account balance (whether it’s a real bank account, or just saved up cash) and plan their lives and activities around it.

Chase Bank mobile application should allow customers to have a clear and easy view of their finances, ideally showing trends and projections.

“I barely can make it to my next paycheck… Every month I’m trying to make it through, I don’t have any certainty if I actually will. It is stressful, but it’s my reality. I really need to know where every my naira goes… Otherwise I quickly will go in dept.” – Abebi

  1. Not having clear visibility to each and every transaction associated with the debit or credit card that the customer owns steers them towards avoiding using any bank cards at all, due to fraud concerns.

81% of adults in Nigeria prefer cash because they feel like they have a lot more control and visibility over how much they have and where it goes. They physically have to hand out the money in order for their “total balance” to decrease, which also gives customers a perception of full control of their finances. Customers believe that credit and debit cards are prone to financial fraud.

Chase Bank mobile application should be making customers comfortable through displaying all transaction and detailed information about each of them. Ideally, clearly displayed fraud protection features should be a part of the user experience, in order to assure the customers of high security and safety of Chase Bank products and services.

“I don’t trust all these banks. They can still my money and I’ll not even notice! And even if I do it’s probably going to be too late to do something”. – Rayowa

  1. Many banking customers in Nigeria still have to visit a branch in order to perform a money transaction, but only because their banks don’t provide a more convenient way to do that.

Most banks in Nigeria currently require their customers to visit the branch in order to deposit a check, transfer money to a family member or a friend, make a wire transfer, or perform any other monetary transaction. 84% of interviewed customers noted that they don’t enjoy the experience of performing those operations in person at a bank branch – mainly because it’s hard to find enough time during a workday to do that.

Chase Bank mobile application should introduce the suite of “Move Money” features that are possible to perform using the smartphone, without the necessity of visiting a Chase branch.

“I don’t use any banks and don’t have any banking accounts. What for? I don’t want to spend a whole day trying to get my money from them, I just can not afford it. I have to work”. – Jayamma 

  1. Calling their bank is a serious challenge for most people in Nigeria and leads to frustration and anxiety due to per-minute billing and a vast difference in language dialects between country’s regions.

Most cell service companies in Nigeria charge for phone calls per minute, while free Wi-Fi connection can be found in most homes, schools, and workplaces. Even via a 3G connection, a lengthy conversation with a bank representative over an internet chat is a lot cheaper than it would be on the phone.

Additionally, many customers in certain regions of the country experience issues when calling any company headquartered in the country’s capital, Abuja, due to a difference in dialects and accents. A simple conversation becomes a frustrating and costly experience.

Chase Bank mobile application should allow for an easy way to communicate with a Chase representative via a live chat, making every customer comfortable and confident that their problem will be resolved.

“I only call my daughter because I want to hear her voice. I tried to avoid calling anybody else. It’s too expensive!”- Machie 



We promise to support Chase Bank Nigeria users in pursuing their goals in a safe and trustworthy way through providing an easy and efficient control over their financial lives.


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You can see detailed roadmap here.


Account Overview
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Fraud Alerts

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Move Money

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Live Chat


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Smart Money

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I do enjoy thinking about product strategy and features. What, when and why we should build? How exciting these questions!

However, I found out that I always have a feeling that “we don’t have enough data to answer those questions”. During this exercise, we were supposed to make up a whole story behind our design decisions and it was hard for me. I wish I really know what people in Nigeria do, how they live and how they use their mobile banking apps. In real life, I need to learn how to find that spot where I know enough to make a decision to move forward with one idea.

Presenting this report I realized how important it is to know your audience: who they are and what they already know. Do they care about quotes from real people? Did they already see your product? What are their titles? And many other questions. It was hard to emulate real-life experience without knowing all of it. I’m really looking forward to the real life to teach me this and many more other lessons.

UX Design Professional World, here we come!

What limits what we can imagine? One more take on it.

In the past 10 days, we were trying to find an answer to that important question in multiple articles. We were talking about today’s hospitals’ issues, incremental and radical innovations, more and more complicated relationships between people and technologies, education, empathy and much more.

However, none of the articles were giving or even trying to give a simple answer to that question – What limits what we can imagine.

So, I looked up this exact question on Google and here’s what I got:

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The first article is actually on AC4D blog written by Elijah Parker (which I highly recommend reading).

Second is an announcement of speech that happened a year ago – Are there limits to what we can imagine? I got very interested in this question because the answer for me is obvious – YES – but if she gives the speech on it – there’s likely more to it. Unfortunately, there are no details.

Last three links are all in relation to the same book – “The Innovation Killer: How What We Know Limits What We Can Imagine”. Ha! Is it the thing – what we know – that limits what we can imagine? I decided to take a closer look at the book.

I read the description and started to get the point, but this 3 stars review did it for me:

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This resonates very much with what I believe in: a fresh outsider perspective can bring the creativity into the companies. Makes a lot of sense to me, and to most of my peers at AC4D as well, based on everything we learned so far.

But I saw something else here. So, I decided to check my hypothesis.

During the class, I asked my colleagues (who know about cars not more than everybody else) to draw a “vehicle of the future”. The drawings turned out to be beautiful – and very interesting.


According to the theory from Innovation Killer what you know limits what you can imagine. So, it looks like than less you know that more you can imagine?

Children are known to be extremely creative creatures who don’t have so many limitations as adults do. They’re “not limited by what they know”. So here are some children drawings of “vehicle of the future” to compare.


Yes, kids got colorful pencils and probably more than two minutes to draw it – but whose vehicles are more creative?

Here’s what’s in common between all of these pictures: the ones that kids drew, and the ones that my adult colleagues did. They all contain the “inventions” that are based on things that have already been known to the individual. It’s a combination of components, often very diverse components. We create new things based on other things we’re familiar with. The bravest – science-fictionists – do the same.

But… According to the point above, knowing less should help us be more creative than when you know a lot. Kids, knowing less, and having fewer limitations baked into their heads, are creative in their own way. However, their imagination is still limited by how narrow their perception of the world still is.

Does what we know limits what we can imagine?

Yes. But when applied correctly, it becomes a strong foundation for imagination.

What really matters for highest creativity is the breadth of knowledge. If your view of the world is very narrow, it’s hard to get “out of the box”.

The depth matters too: dive deeper into what, out of the wide array of fields and topics, makes the most sense for the creative concepts that come from the breadth.

This is what design thinking helps us achieve. Depth + Breadth.

We often can hear these days: “We don’t need to remember things, there is Google for this.”

I don’t agree.

The more we know, in different fields, from different perspectives, the more elements we have at our disposal to bring together to create something new and then more empathy we have.

Roadmapping the Mobile Banking Application Experience. Slice By Slice.

We are moving forward with our Banking Apps initiatives. Every student goes in their own direction. Starting at the same place, now we got totally different apps, estimates, timelines.

Slicing it thin, with a cherry on top.

After doing a one-hour-long estimation together with a developer we were challenged with creating a roadmap for the app. In Q3 we learned about MVP – Minimum Viable Product (also called a “thin slice”) – the minimum set of features bringing value to the user. This quarter we also learned the term MLP – Minimum Lovable Product – that I believe makes a lot of sense taking in attention the abundance of competing products on a market.

It was time to decide what is my “thin slice” and what can wait until later.

I felt like it’s finding a right balance between the three factors:

  • The importance of the feature for the user
  • Level of effort that goes into creating the feature
    • And the “layers” into which the feature can be sliced down to
  • The “delight” aspect of the feature, even if it’s not very important

I knew that I need to roll out the V1 with a truly minimal set of features, and the features being thin-sliced, – which should require as minimal effort as possible, while still being a “minimum lovable product”, – which is where the “delight” aspect comes in. While having barebones functionality, there has to be something “different”, too, to make sure the user installs it.

The user.

I also needed to know the type of persona who would use the application – or the “thin-sliced” version of the application. The “scooter” version of what will become a real car. I quickly came up with a very real use case, and built a storyboard around it, displayed below.

Tanya and banking

Tanya really wants to keep an eye on her financial situation and the most convenient way for her to do so is through the mobile app, especially since she’s always on the go and rarely near a computer (and never near a computer during her work days as a nanny). She makes sure she has enough funds to get to the next paycheck, ensures there’s nothing fraudulent, and also self-analyzes her own spending habits looking at the transactions.

Breakdown of features and functions.

The core functionality of the banking app to a user like Tanya is exactly what went into the thin-sliced v1:

    • Login
    • Your Bank Account And Info (eg balance)
    • List of Transactions and Transaction Details
    • Basic miscellaneous info (contact us, ATM & branch locator, FAQ, legal info)
    • Chat

For example, Login Flow is being released partly in V1, partly in V2:

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Accounts flow will be completely built only at 3rd iteration:


Here is my Sketch file for more details!

The last item in the list stands out. It’s not “essential”. However, that it something that may be very different from the other banking applications around – an ability to effectively communicate with a bank representative through chat – which is the preferred method of communication of many people these days (millennials especially). Additionally, according to my developer, a basic version of chat doesn’t require a lot of effort, – and I decided to include it in V1.

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The next set of essential features comes in v2:

    • Foundational Move Money Framework
    • Bill Pay
    • Check Deposit
    • Transfers Between Accounts
    • Alerts & Notifications
    • Smart Personalization
    • Touch ID

Similarly, most of the features being essential, with a couple that is nice-to-have and making overall experience much better: Smart Personalization (mostly applied on the homepage and adding the bits of delight through the use of user’s first name and pulling a shot of the picture the user is living in) and Touch ID.

Main flows such as Bill Pay and Transfer Between Accounts are fully built except the ability to Add the Transaction in Favorites and Set Reccurence. Check Deposit also doesn’t allow to add the transaction in Favorites.

The third and later versions have just a couple of essential features in it, and most of the things are now big differentiators from the competition:

    • Send/Request Money
    • Wire Transfers
    • Favorite Transactions
    • Future/Scheduled/Planned/Projected Transactions
    • My Goals
    • Save-To-Spend

I used the original estimation sheet to map out the features (or, for some, “screens”) into the versions of the application. (click here to open the image in a larger view; the legend is at the bottom).

Chase Bank App Estimation - RoadMap

I organized the features and the effort in man-days into an actual timeline spreadsheet. Below is the “printout” of the spreadsheet (click here to open the image in a larger view):

Roadmap - highres



Looking back, one thing I would have done differently with the developer is to ensure the estimate is getting done based on features, not on screens. Right now, if a part of a separate feature is included on a screen, it would be a part of the estimation of the said screen. That is not ideal when you’re building a roadmap and removing the slices of the product.

So, when creating the roadmap, I aimed to build it all up based on features instead of screens; and a feature may by itself be just one screen or multiple screens, but also may be a part of many other screens that have another “base” feature in their core.

One other thing I was thinking about a lot, but then learned from developers as I have been going through the exercise, is that every release requires extensive QA, when the developers (and ideally QA engineers) ensure the quality of the product and together with the product managers or product owners polish the functionality for best customer experience. I made sure to include time for QA and Polishing into the timelines, which accounts for 10-20% of the feature development time, largely depending on the complexity of the features. I also made sure to do releases on Mondays only; releases on Fridays are the worst nightmare of developers, – since if something does go wrong, it’ll happen over the weekend. On Monday (or mid-week), everybody is available and around to support the release and fix any possible issues quickly and efficiently.

The class has taught me a lot about what it takes to create a product, or, rather, plan to create a product. I’m enjoying learning more about it and am eager to move further!

Power on Design – “Designing for Woober”

Power and Design. How are they related?

Last ten days we were exploring a complicated world of ethics and power in design, and their influence on our design decisions.

As always, we had three sets of articles that include a variety of articles from analyzes of historical events to a Twitter discussion.

Readings brought hot group discussions and a lot of thoughts and shook our ethical standards.

As a result of a synthesis of all 15 readings, I came up with a story about two young designers. Then, I made a video of process drawing a comic.

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Today, I’m going to tell you a story called “Designing for Woober”. For Good or For Bad?

Meet these young designers. This is Steve and this is Sarah. They just graduated from a design school and are very excited to start their design journey. They both want to make a change in the world and design for good.

Steve and Sarah just got jobs in the company of their dream – Woober. Woober is a rideshare company, that gives an opportunity to be your own boss and earn money by giving a ride to ones who need it in your free time. Woober is very innovative, famous and powerful, so it’s obviously a great place to work. Steve and Sarah are very excited to work for Woober.

Everything looked perfect – a very nice lady gave them a presentation about the company and its values.

“We are customer obsessed … we celebrate differences … we do the right thing … we value ideas over hierarchy”

Happy drivers, happy riders, happy employees! She said that the company follows principles of democracy, everybody has a voice and everybody has power.

After that, they were introduced to a project named Greyball: it’s a tool that would help identify and deny service to rides that violate Woober’s terms of service.

What Steve and Sarah soon found out is that the tool was actually used to deny Woober rides specifically to law enforcement officers. They both found this project very unethical. They found out, that drivers leave Woober very often because they just don’t get paid enough! So, Woober had to minimize background check procedures to reduce the costs and make more people eligible to drive, even those who are dangerous for the society. But the boss, Mr. Ber, believes that this is the best way to do business. Nobody agreed, but everybody followed his guides. Steve and Sarah were worried. It didn’t look like democracy.

Steve silently starts to work on the task. He feels so powerless. He is a junior designer and can’t do anything against his boss’es will! He wants to be able to take responsibility for his job, but he can’t because he didn’t want to lose his job! He gave up on an idea to spend working time doing something meaningful. But every day after work he went to do some volunteering, trying to fix what he was breaking at work for 8 hours every day.

At the same time, Sarah started to work on a plan. She didn’t want to just leave and find another job, while Woober continues to do its dirty things, no. She wanted to change the way Woober works! She opened her notes from Design Theory class and read all the books about design ethics.

She did something nobody was doing before her – she goes and talks to Woober drivers to understand their life. She founds out that for most of them didn’t like their job. They think that this is a temporary gig because they don’t learn anything new there, don’t have an opportunity for career growth and the pay is super low. Sarah learned so much from them and created a plan.

But before she finalized it, she went to her colleagues who worked for Mr. Ber for a long time and asked questions about him. Everybody mentions that he loves comedy A LOT, and one day he wants to become a comedian. Brilliant!- says Sarah, and makes changes to her plan. Now she is ready to pitch.

Mr. Ber didn’t like visitors, he was shocked by such an impudence from a Junior designer, but agreed to meet with Sarah.

Sarah presents her plan: Mr. Ber, I think, I have the solution for the company to keep drivers happy and make them stay with the company longer, so we don’t need to hire so many non-eligible drivers and then hide from law enforcement officers.

Are you saying that we need to pay them even more? – Said Mr. Ber – We can’t do that! And we’ll need even more money to pay our lawyers then!

Sarah says: I learned that drivers want to learn and grow – what if we give them an opportunity to learn a profession while waiting for next rider? They will practice their skills with passengers, impress them and the passengers will likely pay them more in tips! We will create a career path to transit into Woober’s office if they wish.

This is a list of jobs I’m thinking about:

  1. Psychologist
  2. Singer
  3. Comedian
  4. Storyteller – A.K.A. TED speaker
  5. Civic life coach

Imagine, if you could get a live concert while having a ride to your job? Or stand up comedy show? Wouldn’t it be awesome?

Mr. Ber was thrilled. – Yes, yes, comedy show! Let’s start to do it today! Sarah became a leader of the project and turned the company to the one she wants to be working at. Steve was empowered by Sarah’s example and became a follower of his own beliefs.

The very happy End!

IDSE401 Designing for Woober from Maria Zub on Vimeo.



Update on Stand Up, Austin! A Civic Show (Former Civic Night)

If you are a loyal reader of AC4D blog, you probably know what “Stand Up, Austin!” (former Civic Night) is from our previous posts. For those who just recently joined us, I’ll make a short introduction:

“Stand Up, Austin!” is a Civic Comedy Show, an event highlighting the importance of having a healthy civic life filled with live comedy, interactive games, drinks, tacos, and much more.


In a recent survey, Texas residents rank 47th out of the 50 states in voter turnout, and 39th for volunteering. Civic participation is now more important than ever for Austin and we feel that comedy and community interactions can have a powerful effect on us improving.

We know that participation in local government, community events, and in our neighborhood associations sometimes feels like a duty rather than a pleasure, but we feel it doesn’t have to be this way. Shows like The Daily Show and Last Week Tonight With John Oliver have shown us that you can be informed and involved without it feeling like a hassle or a chore. Having a healthy civic life doesn’t have to be boring and, in fact, it can be downright hilarious.


The event will have a live comedy performance by four of Austin’s premier comedians, and will be hosted by a popular Austin comedian Jasmine Ellis. Guests will also have a chance to learn more about civic engagement opportunities by talking with League Of Women Voters, The Pulse Of Austin and Jay Jennings, a postdoctoral fellow at the Annette Strauss Institute and author of Civic Health Index. Before and after the show, guests will be entertained by interactive civic games and community-building activities.

The show will take place at the Spider House on Wednesday, April 11th.

facebook @3x


  1. Booked the venue – Spider House.
  2. Booked four comedians and a host.
  3. Booked a speaker – Jay Jennings.
  4. Got two special guests who will set up informational booths on the event: League Of Women Voters and The Pulse Of Austin.
  5. Created a website and went through 3 iterations based on results of user testing.
  6. Developed product design kit.
  7. Set up an Eventbrite page and got first sales.
  8. Developed content strategy for social networks.
  9. Published posts about the event on Austin 360, KGSR, CultureMap, and others.
  10. Set up a fundraising campaign on Rally.org.



  1. Lack of trust in City Government affects people’ desire to participate in The Civic Show.
  2. In sensitive and undefined topics such as Civic Engagement wording means a lot — our user testing sessions became wording testing sessions and hopefully, the website will do its job now.


We keep the price low so everybody could afford to join the party. We bring best comedians in town to make the night remarkable.

  1. We need to raise $450. Please, connect us with the people and businesses who might be interested in sponsorship of such an event or support us on Rally.org.
  2. Spread the word about Stand Up, Austin! On Facebook.


Our focus now is on promoting the event and fundraising. We have 2.5 weeks to sell 71 more tickets and raise $450!

Next week, we will print 250 posters to spread them around the town and keep working on getting added to www.do512.com and other online resources.


Laugh with us, and learn how you can make a difference!

Reviving the Chase Mobile Banking wireframes

After about two months of collecting dust in far-far away folders on my laptop, Chase Mobile Banking wireframes got their second life this past week!

This time, we are going to see how much it costs to bring this app to life. To accomplish that, I have prepared the wireframes in a format that I thought would be most helpful for the developer who would do the estimation… I’ve made sure everything is good with Sketch, and have organized the wireframes in Invision, and eventually met with the developer to get a rough estimation.

Before the meeting, I felt pretty good about the wireframes. I thought they looked decent and make a lot of sense. To be honest, I was quite proud of my achievement in Q2, especially taking into account the fact that we had two other very intensive classes going on.

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I had enough time to forget that the wireframes weren’t *that* good. But the meeting with the developer opened my eyes to how much was missing and how many questions weren’t answered.

Here’s something that I thought was very important about the way I approach this class. I want to ensure that anything I do and learn should help potentially working with remote developers. That’s why I decided to take a risk and try to organize all screens and detailed specifications in Invision. I already used this app for user testing of these same wireframes, and it was the time to explore the capabilities of the app for remote collaboration.

I started with making connections between the screens, adding what is called “hot spots” (clickable areas) – a very long and boring process, but so insightful! I realized that so many buttons still don’t lead anywhere. So many pages are missing. Sometimes, it was not clear where a “Back” or a “Cancel” button would lead. That really helped to do some micro-iterations on certain screens.

Here is my Invision prototype if you are curious!

During one-hour-long meeting with Mark Phillips, owner of “Are You Watching This?”, we were able to walk through all existing flows, cover some of them in much detail, and just slightly touched others. Nothing really surprised me in the estimation. But I was finally hit by the realization that this is a long, very long process to develop a comprehensive set of wireframes for a Mobile Bank App. According to his estimate the app will take him about 8 months to develop.

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The process of estimation I had was not as efficient as it could be. I wish I had all the specifications and components list completely done by the meeting with the developer! Not necessary to show it all to him (we only had one hour together), but to minimize the number of questions I didn’t have an answer on. The lesson is learned. But then, it’s clear that the more often we meet, the easier it is to align with the direction and ensure I prepare everything the developer would need from me going forward.

I am looking forward to getting to a comprehensive deliverable for the developer this week and solidifying the estimate.

Making Crossword Puzzle With The Best Intentions

The second class of our AC4D Theory course started with a set of fascinating and deep articles. Three classes of active discussions brought so many new and provocative thoughts in my head. The biggest value of the Theory class for me is to think about a phenomenon I didn’t think about before and look at well-known problems from a different angle. In these three sets of articles, we were reading about modern tendencies in design for good and about designing with the best intentions.

We started with next five articles.

The first article I’ve read was “Rethinking Business Plan Competitions”. It gave me an answer to why so many “with-good-intentions” solution and businesses don’t work as expected.

“On the importance of theory to design practitioners”, a conversation between two teachers of the Theory course at AC4D, brought light on the bad and good of modern education – the focus on practice and avoiding theory.

Human Codebreakers, the article about the research of our another teacher – Lauren Serota – brought a lot of questions to the room, from technical, for example, about the recruiting process designers used, to ethical, such as “giving more freedom to Muslim women” approach.

The last article of this blast, Fallacy of Good, revealed several moments designers should always remember about designing for marginal groups.

One of the articles in next set was very eye-catchy. “Everything is Fucked” is a fresh look at Internet and people’s nature.

“Did this non-profit crack the code for building developing world housing?”, asked in a title of another article about success on a small non-profit in resolving consequences of natural disaster comparing wi a huge worldwide organization.

Another catchy name of the article with no less catchy content is “Sex doesn’t sell anymore, activism does. And don’t the big brands know it” where the author described how companies approach a new way of selling things through “coolness” of activism we have today.

Jon Kolko in “Our Misguided Focus on Brand and User Experience” describes the goal of User Experience design and our responsibilities as the designers.

In “Save Africa: The commodification of (PRODUCT) RED campaign” we found out about two campaigns with the same goal – raising money for people in poverty, but with totally different approaches.

The last set continued to open up the topic.

In “Yet another dilemma” Richard Anderson covered the topic of fundraising for a private person’s need as a form of social activism.

He highlighted another aspect of the topic – gratitude – in “Reflections on gratitude” and showed the spectrum of reactions and expectations people have as a result of their donation.

We learned about the story of creation and “success” of the well-known High Line in NYC – “The High Line’s Next Balancing Act” told the story from its designer’s perspective.

The interesting format of business for social good was described in “Spain’s ‘Robin Hood Restaurant’ Charges The Rich And Feeds The Poor”. The article raised the topic of the dignity of the poor.

Big discussion was led by “Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: A Mirage” – an answer on another article we read in Q2. The author argues the idea to sell to the poor to bring them out of poverty, instead, he offered directly raise their income by buying from them.

All readings, combined with social designers guest from SXSW, as well as our city engagement projects in studio class raised a big question in our heads: do we want to work for good and change the world, and if yes, how?

This question was in an air for nearly two weeks now and each of us is getting his/her own answer. Successful examples inspire to take an action, unsuccessful examples inspire to learn about people deeply and design ethically.

As a result of swimming in all of these articles and trying to make sense of them, I came up with a crossword puzzle where I tell the story of social entrepreneurship through questions and answers.

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The American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) runs a webcast series called Design For (1)Good whose focus areas are designed for democracy, diversity and inclusion, women in leadership, and design for communities. And this Institute is not the only one who focus on that. Designing for good is the new way to solve social problems.

Designing for good means to design (2)vulnerable population, often marginalized groups, people who need support for different reasons. One of the groups who gets a lot of public attention is (3)refugees. Amongst others, Starbucks CEO wrote an open letter to staff committing to hiring 10,000 and Airbnb was supporting as a reaction to Trump’s program.

In “Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: A Mirage” written by Karnani, those people considered as a bottom of the pyramid (BOP) – people who live in (4)poverty. Karnani questions (5)affordability of most of the current designs of products for people in poverty. He believes that only raise of (6)income will help people to find their way from poverty.

But how to design to really make a change?

First, we as designers, need to know what exactly we are trying to change. In the first place, we hope to get (7)behavioral change. For example, not only give people money but change the way how they spend them.

To do that, we always need to ask people we are designing first. “To provide opportunities for government and citizens to work together by connecting civic challenges to community problem-solvers” and “built out of the belief that the best way to tackle challenges that affect the community is with the (8)community.”

“The only thing worse than not asking the questions is not paying attention to the answers that don’t fit into their worldview because it’s inconvenient.”


What should designers always give credit to and take in consideration thinking about people they designed for and about themselves as creators? Human nature and technology. Especially Internet.

“The problem is, as far as I can tell, the internet and its technologies don’t deliver us from (10)tribalism. They don’t deliver us from our baser instincts. They do the opposite. They mainline tribalism into our eyeballs. And what we’re seeing is the beginning of that terrifying impact.” Mark Manson

And from the same author: The world runs on one thing: people’s (11)feelings. And no, I don’t mean the coddled, “Oh, we’re spoiling the youth,” safe-space-type feelings. I mean emotions. Emotions rule the world.

Usage this knowledge about people may lead people to different solutions of social problems. So, RED campaign based on people’ desire to feel good – selfish altruism. The campaign encourages you to buy things to support the poor. This is what makes it successful and what brings a lot of critique – promotion of (12)consumerism. One of the strongest opponents is buylesscrap.com who asks people donate straight to charity organization and, surprisingly, buy less (13)crap.

And even most of the social projects get a lot of critique, some of them happen to be incredibly successful. Classic example of products of “A single-serve revolution” that was launched on poor markets and brought value is (14)shampoo packed in single-use bags.

Some solution not only really solves people’ problems, but bring Nobel Prize to its designer.  This is what happened with Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank, who created (15)microcredit solution for the poor.

This successes and failures are good lessons for fresh designers, and for experienced also, to skip typical mistakes that were made before. Also, knowing how people’ brain works and how a behavior change happens is extremely useful for designers. However, modern education and work environment try to focus on practical part of studying only, avoiding to dive deeper into human nature that comes through learning (16)theory. Jon Kolko said: “But in the context of a real world design problem, (17)intellectualism without the substantiation of tangible design artifacts is just noise.”

Learning theory is important. No one should go and do make mistakes in the world instead of learning them from books. Especially those designers who are Designing For Good.


Go To Market, Civic Night!

It’s hard to believe Q3 is almost over. The business idea is picked, experiments are run, a go-to-market plan is done! This is real! We are creating an event that will change people’s perception of civic engagement and help them have a healthier civic life.

As a result of our team’s work in Q3 we came up with a Go To Market Plan that takes into account all aspects of our business idea.

No comedy without comedians

During the past 6 weeks, we visited about 15 comedy shows and had in-depth interviews with 7 comedians about their professional and civic life. We were focusing on establishing relationships with the best comedians in town and getting them onboard for the show. We got a lot of interest and willingness to participate from them.


Finding the right venue for the show was a big deal as well. We found out that our biggest expense is going to be a venue, and the prices vary drastically. So far we have two main places we are considering: Spider House (2908 Fruth St, Austin, TX 78705) and North Door (501 Brushy St, Austin, TX 78702). The cost difference is approximately $300 which is a lot for our non-profit company.


We started with creating a launch timeline which is pretty tight. We want to have our first event before graduating from the school, so we will have around 6 weeks to organize and promote the show.

Target Audience

We described our target audience as Austin residents, long-term and new to town, age range from 18 to 35, coming from the different socio-economic backgrounds. They may have some interest in civic topics and participate sparingly in significant events like voting in federal elections but rarely, if ever, locally. They also enjoy comedy shows and have been to one at least once. They have an active social life and go out at least two times a month. Based on Austin Metropolitan Statistical Area, based on 2016 statistics, our target market consists of more than 250K people.


The one thing we were not able to accomplish this week is to get set on a business name. The working name “Civic Night”, even though we like it a lot, didn’t resonate with comedians at all. We did a brainstorming session and ended up with three new options that currently being tested: The Civic Show, Stand Up Austin, and The SpeCivic Show.

Roles and Partnerships

Each member of our small team of three will have to wear multiple hats to make this real:

Josh – project management, interactive concepts, raising funds.

Scott – comedian relations, civic group relation, marketing and promotion.

Maria – venue management, event planning, website, social media, copywriting, accounting.

Each of us will need to fill some knowledge and skills gaps for being efficient as a small group of 3 people.

Image uploaded from iOS (5)

And we also will need to recruit other people.

Our team will not cover the following back of stage roles: copywriter for the website, lawyer (one time gig).

We need to fill these roles for every show: comedians (4 persons every show), host, organizational speaker, food sponsor, bouncer (if not provided by venue), greeter (cashier), DJ, photographer/videographer.

We also happy to start a conversation with a director at Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life who may be able to assist with measuring success and outcomes. She is a possible speaker or exhibitor, and a subject matter expert.


As producers of Civic Night, a critical function of our role is to promote the event to make sure that everyone who might be interested in attending knows when and where it takes place, and how to buy a ticket. Our post-event marketing efforts will be important in realizing our broader goal of enhancing civic lives in Austin.

Open Aspects

After spending 8 weeks thinking through the project we still have several open aspects we need to de-risk:

  • Financial component:
    • People will pay $10 for the comedy show.
    • Businesses will be willing to sponsor and donate up to $550 for the event.
    • Each person will spend a minimum $10 on drinks (on average).
  • Content component:
    • Speaker will not appear as “interruption” of a funny show.
    • Comedians will be able to make jokes that highlight importance of civic engagement not hurting feelings of people in a diverse crowd.
    • The comedians will tell jokes related to civic life.
  • Promotional component:
    • We will be able to get 75-100 people attend.


We are very excited to make it real. We got it confirmed so many times that Civic Night is needed and desired that there is no way to bury it as a purely school project – it has to go on and continue even after our classes end!

The Civic Night will happen in April, and we hope to see you there!

Sign up on our website to be the first who gets details!


Civic Night: Expectations and ideals

Go and talk to real people. This statement is the credo of UX designers and researchers. GO AND TALK! So we did. This week we were validating the format of the event that is supposed to bring people with different socioeconomic backgrounds together to talk about local issues. We call it Civic Night. We created a flyer for the event and put it in front of people on the streets of the East Side of Austin.

PrototypesHere’s what we heard right away:
– “What is it going to be about? Donald Trump of course!”
– “Stop right there. I don’t do politics.”
– “This is an interesting idea. It’s like Saturday Night Live.”

Ok, maybe using the word “politics” twice in such a small flyer was too much. It conjures up negative feelings in some people. Other than that we got a lot of interesting comments on the concept from participants and heard some amazing stories.

One of the participants took a special place in our minds. He inspired us so much to realize this concept in real life! We met him in a parking lot of Sonic. Well, first we met four young guys sitting at a table and eating corn dogs. We asked them to participate and heard “Yeah, sure, but we don’t know anything about politics, but our boss does!” They pointed at the black pickup truck just a couple of feet from us and we saw a man sitting in the driver seat. We thanked the guys and went to the boss.

Let’s call him Omar. He wasn’t excited to talk first, but when we briefly described the idea, he started to open up. He is a construction trainer and leads a group of students on construction projects. Omar used to live in East Austin, but can not afford it anymore, so he moved outside of the town. He told us how he met Steven Adler once – he and his group were building houses for homeless people, and the mayor just showed up one day! He said then he and his wife are just starting to get into local politics, so he liked our concept because it promises to be fun. “I didn’t participate before because it is too serious. Your idea sounds like fun”. Omar is Mexican American. When we asked him who he thinks is going to be the audience of an event like this, he said: “I don’t think minorities will come. A lot of Caucasian people will”. When we asked why, he said: “Because minorities are just trying to maintain, you know: eat, drink. They don’t worry about things like this.”

When we come back to the school to debrief on the first day, we were pretty excited. We knew we need to redesign the flyer, and we hoped it will communicate the idea better so more people will be as excited as we are. We changed the title from “Party. People. Politics” to “Community Central” and “local politics” to “local issues”. But talking to people on the next day, we didn’t see much interest either.

interview Drea
We spent a lot of time analyzing WHY we had a significant success on NextDoor and very little on the streets of the city. We started to talk about the potential participants. Who are they? Where do they live? What race are they? What economic class do they represent?

27 participants. And there is a trend. A socioeconomic class divided people into two groups pretty clearly.

The results of the experiment with middle-income people indicated that a majority are interested in the concept; they prefer a live show over a recorded show; they prefer a comedy show with an interactive component that sparks community engagement. They were willing to exchange contact information and learn more about the project.

The results of the experiment with lower income people in East Austin (a big part of them were representative of minorities) were inconclusive because most of them did not find value in the concept. “Nothing is going to change” – we heard. “I’m not into all this politics”. Changing a prototype did no change their reaction. Not interested.

The main goal of Civic Night is to bring people together. To make change together. We know there is a very specific situation in East Austin – complicated relationships between new transplants and long-term residents. But how can we bring them together if they don’t see WHY should they do that? This question keeps being unanswered in our heads. We believe that COMMUNITY is a necessary element of change in Austin. Talking about hot topics is the only way to empathy and productive relationships. Unfortunately, we have not yet found the appropriate language to describe the concept and the benefits of the concept to all potential participants of the event such as it. We will explore the ways to gain this understanding.

But we got support from the other, very important players of this project – comedians. The SME interviews with them validated the value of the concept and the fact that comedy is such a powerful human interaction that can influence what people think and do. We were cautioned about the difficulties of politics and humor and identified a well-established comedian who is interested in working with us and connecting us to the comedy scene. We showed up on a comedy-show hosted by her to feel the atmosphere of comedy and get a better sense of how exactly it might work with community building and discussing local issues. We will explore this opportunity more.Comedy

These were the experiments and developments of this week, but we are still getting results from last week’s experiment, which are pretty exciting and give hope!

Even though we didn’t promote our landing page online since the very first post on NextDoor, we are still getting subscriptions! The amount of email addresses we got has doubled since the last week! (so far we have 50 people signed up on our website, 24 of them were signed up in last 6 days, 3 days after our Next Door promotion). It does look like our tear-off flyers worked! The most popular flyers were put on in Austin Bouldering Project building that also gives us a tip on who is the audience who is interested in an event such as Civic Night.


Next week we are going to develop an experiment that outlines/explains Civic Night concepts that have been discussed this week by the team, e.g., comedy show, trivia show, salon format, and media platform and also develop a new experiment with target customers to better understand expectations and interest.

We highly appreciate any thoughts and comments on the topic and would love to discuss it with anyone who has something to say. Please, feel free to contact us and we will happily talk over coffee and move some stickies around with you.

To learn more about Civic Night visit our website!