Ali Kalamchi | Manager of Business Solutions | LinkedIn
Digital community platform designers can create safe and secure online spaces where members can virtually meet; interact with each other; consume content, products, and services; share knowledge; help each other; and create valuable networks. YouthPower2: Learning and Evaluation (YP2LE), a USAID-funded activity focused on building and disseminating evidence on Positive Youth Development (PYD), created such a platform for young changemakers around the world.
Leveraging the existing functionality of YouthPower.org, a request was made to expand the functionality of the online structure and customize a new microsite for young changemakers.
Launched in 2018 under YouthPower Learning and now managed under YP2LE, YouthLead.org is a digital community designed for young changemakers making a positive impact in their community through service, activism, advocacy, education, and entrepreneurship. The network members are focused on finding solutions by connecting people, ideas, and resources to tackle critical issues affecting young people at home and around the world. The goal was to create a site that allows youth to connect to changemakers, find information, discover resources, and create learning opportunities.
ASSYST began the project with a discovery sprint process to find the underlying business and human needs. We worked closely with the key stakeholders to understand the platform’s drivers, challenges, needs, desires outcomes, and create a sustenance model for the site. The intent was to discover key touchpoints along the audience’s journey.
ASSYST designed an intuitive front-end interface (which works on desktop and mobile) to cater to diverse categories of users. The approach was to visualize a structure that will convey why the YouthLead community is worth joining and encourage visitors to contribute and feel like they are part of the community. We implemented and maintained rich user interface effects such as carousel, tabs, accordion, lightbox, and other reusable pre-built or custom-built patterns to be adopted into any page, section, or subsection level templates.
The scalable global platform allows content from multiple sources and performs simultaneous updates. Design architecture is responsive to themes to enhance efficiency, usability, accessibility, and adapt to all industry-standard browsers. The navigation approach ensures users can see where they are on the global navigation and what they can do next and an interactive dashboard helps administrative users to configure the system, upload content, manage users and system settings. ASSYST implemented multiple levels of roles and permissions for content creation, review, and publishing. The digital platform uses an Open Source framework and Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Young changemakers can learn from other youth projects by searching, filtering, and refining functions based on content types, members, topics, recency, and user ratings, very similar to a marketplace. Every community member profile conveys a powerful understanding of the human behind the username. The platform features elaborate Member Profiles with social sign-in enabled. Users register through the site to become YouthLead members and are awarded points based on level of activity to encourage active participation. Depending on the number of points, members’ badges are displayed on their profile, such as Networker, Innovator, or Community badges. These badges inspire other community members and provide users with recognition of their accomplishments. The system also has notification features to keep members informed on content updates and community activity.
Group administrators moderate the critical element of the platform and the groups: user communication. The discussion groups are categorized as Closed and Open; Open discussion groups do not require any approval to join, while Closed groups are under strict moderation. Both categories of communities can have their own Events, Discussions, and Resources. Members can post Resources, Projects, Events; author blogs; and participate in discussion forums, competitions, rank resources, and expert profiles.
The multilingual platform offers global networking opportunities; users can find information about brokering opportunities, hackathons, and peer-to-peer events. An interactive map shows the geographical areas of the innovations, events, and changemakers. Users can indicate their online status, and the instant messaging feature facilitates real-time communication. The website will also support future mentorship programs, Mentor/Mentee engagement is a unique feature where Members will be able to say they want to be a mentor and select the amount of time (a week?) they are willing to be mentors. Community managers will be able to pair mentors with mentees and both mentors and mentees get email notifications on this.
Users have several choices for social media platforms and communities to participate in, ASSYST is working with the YP2LE team to continuously review community engagement, explore opportunities for further enhancing the user experience, and brainstorm ways to implement new features.
ASSYST Digital Services is a strategic partner for customers across the industry spectrum, including DoD, Federal, State, Local Governments, Non-Profit Organizations, and International Agencies. We follow the human-centric design (HCD) and agile principles to implement solutions for websites, knowledge management systems, mobile apps, search-based portals, interactive toolkits, open data catalogs, data visualizations, and Chatbots.