Safe Haven

Decades of conflict in Afghanistan have contributed to a growing global refugee crisis where Afghan men, women, and children have left their home country because of war, natural disaster, or political upheaval, resettle in the United States. While aid is scattered and hard to find, there exists a major opportunity for communities to work alongside local refugee relief organizations and government agencies to support and welcome resettled individuals and families.

In response, Safe Haven is a digital volunteer board application that aims to bridge the disconnect between resources available to support Afghan refugees and individuals who want to help those in transition. The digital screens are situated in high traffic, high visibility bus shelters as a way of bringing opportunities to the community.

Design Question

How might we foster community building between Afghan refugees and the larger Seattle community to improve refugee resettlement experiences?


Surveys taught us that locals have seen breaking news about the crisis in Afghanistan but feel uninformed about the subsequent refugee displacement. While our audience of young professionals do not seek out ways to help, they are open to doing so if the opportunity presents itself.

By placing touch-screen kiosks at bus stops where people are already waiting, users are able to learn more and provide support in a manner and location that is convenient to them.


We began the project by conducting semi-structured interviews coupled with surveys with adults who are aware of the refugee crisis and have an interest in volunteering to understand their time, and involvement, and transportation concerns as it relates to organizations supporting incoming refugees.

The data represented a disconnect between action and intention thus leading me to consider designing for behavior change.

User Research

We also conducted interviews with volunteers and caseworkers from refugee relief organizations such as International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Jewish Family Services (JFS) to participate in discovery interviews before conducting a Competative Analysis to find existing solutions within this space.

While job boards and volunteer portals exist for official nonprofits, those who have gotten involved did so after a call to action from someone in their network. Our target audience consists of people willing to help incoming refugees but are not actively looking for opportunities nor are they connected with the refugee community.


Combining findings from multiple user research methods using an affinity diagram, my team broke down findings into topics to select the scope of our project. After deciding to focus on the issue of low awareness around ways to help asylum seekers, we organized our stakeholders into two groups: potential volunteers and existing organizations.

I created two personas that embodied the archetypes of our user groups. I then mapped out the user journey of our primary persona, Casey, including her thoughts and feelings surrounding news coverage about the crisis in Afghanistan. From this, I was able to empathize with Casey's schedule and where she can offer support.


Using the research and synthesis as a guideline, we summarized our findings with the following problem statement and intentions for our solution: How might we for behavior change and change will into action for those hearing about the Afghan refugee crisis and open to offering support?


With the design requirements in mind, we began to ideate on potential solutions through sketches and storyboards.

We decided that while a convenient solution, an app does not reach our target audience without strong marketing. Knowing that we wanted to encourage a behavior change, we considered how a kiosk at a bus stop could help people evalute their opportunities while they wait for their ride.

We also bucketed the design requirements as feature components using a flow chart to form the backbone of our kiosk experience. The two pathways are further explained using sitemaps.

"Learn" Pathway

Users can select between two education paths: (1) 10 Facts About the Afghan Refugee Crisis or (2) Story of the First 90 days. Users can swipe or tap on arrows to move through slides to learn about the refugee experience and how they fit into the picture.

"Get Involved" Pathway

In the ‘Get Involved’ screen, users can filter by and discover opportunities based on their preferences, as well as time commitment and experience. Each filter’s page provides a selection of opportunity cards, which can be individually expanded to present more details about the opportunities.


Early wireframes included a homescreen offering the three pathways of learn, take action, and donate. "Learn" included two stories of 10 slides each while "take action" (which was renamed to "get involved") displayed a set of opportunity cards which could be filtered according to different types of support.

P.S. You can get a better zoom on Figma.

My team and I further considered the feasability of a donation option. I was considering different designs for the kiosk hardware as well as the digital screens but we came to the concensus that security at a publicly accessible kisok would put the user at risk (in more ways then one).

We did not want to add a kiosk to the card reader for safety reasons. Knowing that over 90% of our discovery survey respondants were inclined to donate money, we decided to make to continue the experience from a mobile device where donations would be safer and the experience could be continued while on public transport.

Usability Testing

The Safe Haven team sought to test and validate the core ‘Get Involved’ pathway of the digital board with five participants. The goals of the testing focused on the screen-to-screen experience from the initial default ‘Home’ to ‘Opportunities’ screen to discover usability improvements.

As a result, we made four design changes: First, the header text was adjusted and learning content added to the home screen to provide context for users to help grab the attention of users while drawing them into both ‘Learn’ and ‘Get Involved’ pathways with information to lay the groundwork. Second, the search bar within the "Get Involved" pathway was removed to reduce complexity. Third, to add clarity to the QR code section, text was adjusted from "share with my phone" to "continue with my phone." Finally, a label was added to draw attention to filters.



In addition to viewing our video prototype, you can also download a pdf of our team's design solution.


At the outset, my team and I were hesitant to pursue a project on the ongoing crisis because of the langage barrier and packed schedule of stakeholders. Unanimously, however, we chose to pursue purposeful, impact-driven work.

While not without its challenges, choosing this path was immensely rewarding, both in the experiences it led to and the lessons learned from those experiences. Among those lessons, maybe the most important was that the value of human-centered design is not just in the creation of more appropriate and usable design solutions that result from the involvement of users, but in the generative power of design as a process to bring together diverse stakeholders in pursuit of more inspiring and inclusive futures. Stakeholders wanted to help us help the communities they serve.