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School Girls During Workout

Audience Research for Female Advocacy Non-profit Organization

Client: Girls at Work


Girls at Work wanted to increase online donations, provide a mobile-accessible website, and optimize the experience for specific audiences.

Key Goal

To help Girls at Work prioritize which audiences to best target in the website redesign and find ways to receive more donations.

My Role

User researcher on a
2-person remote team


3 weeks (pro-bono)

  • Heuristic Evaluation

  • Competitive Analysis

  • Market Research

  • User Proto-Personas


3 Weeks to Leverage Existing Market Research and Develop User Proto-Personas



Girls at Work was trying to reach too many audiences, thus diluting their messaging. They did not have enough resources to successfully market to all of them via social media.

We narrowed the list from 11 audience types to 3 in order to prioritize whom to best focus on in the redesign.

The Process


Reducing the number of target audiences 
will help the team at Girls at Work prioritize site content and messaging to create a more tailored experience for the ideal supporter of the organization.

What I Did

The plan was to focus on audiences who would have a positive impact on the organization, both financially and ethically.

I prompted the board members with questions to unveil who to focus on.

  • Who would best advocate and help your outreach program? 

  • What gaps or missed opportunities are in the market who competitors are not targeting?

  • Which audiences would help the organization get more funding so you can provide more resources for other audiences?

The top 3 audiences to focus on are:

  1. Individuals donors

  2. Reviewers of grant applications

  3. Teachers and school administrators

The next step was to leverage existing publications and resources to learn about behaviors and motivations of these 3 audience types.


But first, I needed to check out the competition.

The Process


A competitive analysis indicated that Girls at Work can gain a competitive advantage through use of success stories, including videos, directly on homepage, and creating a strong social media presence.

What I Did

I recommended design solutions to even the playing field with 4 competitors, such as, including placement of a prominent and omnipresent donate button, an annual report, and a way to accept mobile donations.


Homepage of Girls at Work Website Before Redesign

The Process


Girls at Work can leverage millennials’ desire to do good and cater their technology habits by providing way to donate online via mobile device.

What I Did

I used existing publications and resources to learn more about the the top 3 audiences. Research efforts focused on consumer behaviors related to female advocacy, philanthropy, online giving, non-profits and social media, and mobile device usage.

Existing studies validated the need to provide a ways for people to donate online.

The most prominent characteristics of people who are concerned with female advocacy and youth education are:

  • Millennials, both male and female, seem to be the most socially conscious

  • People research organizations before doing business with it, including online research

  • STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and female empowerment is one of the top issues that people care about

Millennials are socially-conscious

Provide an easy way for consumers to donate via mobile device.

Leverage millennials’ desire to do good and cater their technology habits.

Individual donors are valuable

Do not ignore individual donors.

80% of charitable contributions in the U.S. are from individual donors; 25% of these donations amount < $100 each.

Potentials donors research companies before giving

Provide online access to information regarding financial and leadership about the organization 

Key Takeaways from Audience Research

Social Media

Maintain a focused and active social media presence.

Stay ahead of other non-profits who are unable to maintain their social media.

Success Stories

Showcase how women and girls have benefited from woodworking classes.

The Process


Next, I created 3 user proto-personas were to serve as an anchor for the website content strategy and key marketing activities.

These informed the information architecture and content placement in the sitemap and helped Girls at Work identify which social media platforms to focus on.


Above: Example proto-persona

User Critical Tasks and Business Critical Tasks

Meet Michael
Millennial male supporting feminist cause

User Critical Tasks

  • Donate immediately via mobile device

Business Critical Tasks

  • Receive individual donations

  • Leverage desire of millennials to do good

  • Build awareness of events

Girls at Work can tap into Michael’s desire to do good by reaching out to millennials via social media and providing instant and secure access to donate.
Meet Frank
Financial employee invested in the community

User Critical Tasks

  • Read information about the organization's leadership

  • Legitimize organization's service to community by reviewing success stories and testimonials

Business Critical Tasks

  • Provide information for reviewers of grant application

  • Receive grant awards

Girls at Work can receive grant awards through promotion of success stories and details of the organization.
Meet Cynthia
Baby boomer woman who is passionate about children development

User Critical Tasks

  • Learn details about programs -what they offers, what the girls will be doing

  • Read testimonials and success stories from other camp directors, girls in program

  • Contact representative to coordinate an event

Business Critical Tasks

  • Incentive summer camp administrators to connect with Girls at Work

Girls at Work can optimize content for search engines, such as Google, so the website appears high in search results.

Accommodating User Critical Tasks
Through Visual Design and Content

The website was then designed to display content that will meet these user personas needs.


Screenshots of Girls at Work Website After Redesign
(visual design by 3rd party vendor)


Present Findings with Visuals

Presenting market research findings to the stakeholders and partner vendors and providing a summary strengthened trust with the team at Girls at Work

Partner with a Strong Advocate

Having a strong advocate on the client side facilitated delicate conversations and kept the project moving

Talk to More Audience Types Next Time

Conducting interviews with diverse group of adult women and youth who attend wood-working classes would better uncover their needs from the organization

Want to talk more about design?

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