As part of this we created a text based messaging system that connects local day laborers with employers in the city of Richmond.
What does this mean?
  • It means no wifi required, no data plan required
  • It means real time results for the people that need it the most
  • It means no waiting outside in the sun an entire day for a job that may never come

Key Concepts: User Research, Contextual Inquiry, Persona Creation, User Stories, Lo-fi Prototyping, Information Organization
Tools and Langauages: Tropo, Javascript, zapier


Initial Idea

The project started with the idea to build an online job information portal for the job seekers of Richmond. The idea was to develop a web crawler and machine learning tool that would gather information from job boards in real time and present the users with the most relevant and trending skills that they should aquire to maximize their chances at successfully landing a job.

User Research

We went out to speak to the locals of Richmond to understand the user and how the above system seemed to fit with their expectations. We spoke to multiple day laborers and home owners to understand their needs. We researched what type of jobs were popular in the Richmond area and what percentage of the laborers were skilled labor. Our research led to some very interesting results

  1. Population of day laborers was very high
  2. Day laborers did not possess smartphones
  3. Internet was not easily accessible
  4. Existing Job and Information portals were not at all utilized by the locals
  5. Home owners and small business heavily relied on day laborers for the day to day work and required quick access to them
The more we talked to Richmond locals -- from small business owners to life coaches and construction workers--the more we refined our scope to address one pressing issue: finding work for Day Laborers.

Feature Design and Persona Creation

TThe user research informed a lot of our product design decisions. We decided to work on designing an application to accomodate the issues discovered above. While following this very User Centered Design approach, we came up with personas of 2 Richmond Locals to work with. First, Samantha, who loves gardening but cannot do a lot of heavy lifting and bending. She badly needs yardwork help over the weekend. Phil is a local day laborer, standing outside Lowes 2 miles from Samantha’s place but doesn’t know how he can get in touch with Samantha. His pride makes him uncomfortable, standing there all day waiting for a job. Looking at the problem from Phil’s perspective, helped us empathize and work around the fact that he has very limited tech access.

We started working on designing different feature sets and different user stories based on those features. We worked to develop an architecture where we can connect the employer to the laborers.

Final Design and Demo

During the hackathon, we narrowed down to the most viable feature set and designed a system with the below features

  • Text messaging based system
  • Employer just required to fill up a simple online form
  • Ability for day laborer to search for jobs within 3 days
  • Connects laborers to emplyers quickly

Sample User Flow

Text based messaging interface prototype

Employer web form prototype

Samantha wants to find someone to help her for the day. So its quite simple for her to go online and fill out a web form. She just has to enter in details like her contact information, what kind of work she needs to get done, when she needs it, how many people she needs, and hit submit. Her request information gets stored in the database along with requests from other employers.

Now what does someone like Phil need to do? He sees a flyer that says – “Text your name to this number today for a job!” So he does that. The messaging platform texts him back – “When do you need a job? 1. Today or 2. Tomorrow. He just needs to reply 1 or 2. He immediately gets back a text asking – “What kind of work do you do? with several options”. Phil types in 2 for yard work and hits send. Very simple.

Now the messaging platform processes and filters out results and finds 3 options. Samantha is one of them and she gets a message asking if she would like Phil to work for her. She replies back with 1 for Accept. Then the both of them get each other’s contact information in real time. Now they can actually meet each other.