Mary’s Place

Mary’s Place empowers homeless families to reclaim their lives by providing overnight shelter for families, 24-7 services, and is the only shelter where families can stay together.

Mary’s Place wanted to redesign their current website and have it responsive to mobile. I had 3 months to complete this capstone class project. The main business goals were to engage people to donate and to reorganize the content on the website. Challenges users faced was that they found it difficult to trust charities.


I was responsible for every aspect of design— stakeholder interviews, heuristic analysis, surveys, interviews, developing personas, creating an affinity diagram, sketching concepts, and low/high fidelity prototypes.



I went through the Mary’s Place website and noted observations and suggestions to improve UI and UX for a more intuitive experience.


Next, I spoke with people to find out their experiences donating to charities. I wanted to learn what keeps people from donating and how I can improve the experience.


I organized the pain points from all the data I gathered. There were 2 different categories— pain points with the website and pain points with users personal feelings with charities.


I created personas based on the research. I grouped each kind of person by their donation behavior— those who donate to well-known charities like Red Cross, people that donate to crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe, and people who donate directly to homeless people.


The two major goals of the redesign were to reorganize the information architecture and understand why people aren’t making donations to charities.

Based on google analytics, the top 5 pages users are clicking on were “job opportunity,” “share your stuff,” “about,” “donation drop off,” and “volunteer.” On their current website, the focus is on their blog and Facebook feed.

I discovered from conducting surveys and speaking to people that people don’t donate because there was a lack of trust in how the money is actually being used and questioning if people in need are actually receiving relief.


After I gathered all the data from my research, I started sketching ideas. I used the data based on the google analytics to organize the website. I designed the pages based on what users actually clicked on and had an interest in and removing pages that weren’t getting traffic.

To increase donations, they could consider using best practices in influence, marketing and sales. Having a clear value proposition, making it easy for users to quickly scan, and be clear as to what the website is about so they don’t leave the website. Sharing stories, videos, testimonials, content of value like statistics, great copy and images – All are ingredients of a recipe to make the sale.

I edited the value proposition from “Empowering homeless women, children, and families to reclaim their lives,” to “Empowering homeless women, children, and families to reclaim their lives. We provide overnight shelter for families, 24-7 services, and is the only shelter where families can stay together.”

In my redesign, when a person first lands on the website, they can watch a touching YouTube video about Mary’s Place. I included images of children that evoked an emotional response.


I had an idea of including a pop-up feature “Someone in Redmond, WA just donated shoes.”  Showing real-time donation builds trust, demonstrates social proof, and triggers others to be more inclined to buy. Creating this feature ties back to the story of users wanting transparency and seeing how their donation is being used.


Also, highlighting an engaging campaign, similar to Kickstarter, contributes to people taking action. It made me think of creating facebook and google ads, and how people are engaged to take action with competition and activities.

Like “the first 100 people who sign up for our email lists get an iPad.” Psychological studies show that people love the process and most of the time don’t really care if they win. It ties back to the story of users wanting transparency and seeing in real time how their donation is being used.


My favorite idea was a shopping feature where people can donate $25 which will go into buying shoes— One of the “most needed items” included by Mary’s place.  It’s an alternative to just donating money, it’s a more personal invested experience, seeing that your money will be going into shoes, and addresses the users desire for transparency.


From the user testing, people found it easy to use and they didn’t have any trouble accomplishing their goals. I would have liked to do a card sort with users to see how they would have organized and labeled the information for a more intuitive experience.

Also, I would have done a user test on the Mary’s Place website and another charities website to implement that data to Mary’s Place design. I would be also curious to see the data as to which donate button on the homepage the user clicked on first and the data on the annual report.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *