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Product & Content Strategy for Humanitarian Immigration Services

Product & Content Strategy for Humanitarian Immigration Services

In a place far from home, how do refugees and asylum seekers find information about and understand how to navigate a complex government process of applying for asylum? In this presentation, I’ll share how our team conducted human-centered design research with asylum seekers for the US asylum program, how those insights illuminated areas of improvement for content strategy and service design, and how we redesigned content and services while balancing needs for ease of use and data security. Finally, I'll show how design strategy work illuminated the need for overhauling our overall organization's strategy. You'll leave this session with insight into the opportunity and impact of thoughtful product strategy in government, examples from specific case studies featuring the work of the United States Digital Service in designing products and services for asylum seekers, and lessons learned from conducting design research with vulnerable communities.

Crystal C. Yan

July 19, 2019

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  1. How might we... reduce the backlog and improve services for

    affirmative asylum seekers in the US?
  2. Asylum applicants are uncertain, confused, and heavily reliant on their

    lawyers and non-profit organizations for fear of making a mistake. (LACK OF) UNDERSTANDING & (LACK OF) CONTROL
  3. [Forums] give more context. USCIS says ‘approval means this,’ but

    a forum will say ‘approval means this and I got my card 3 days later’ and so on.” - Asylum seeker, on the USCIS website vs other online resources “
  4. I couldn’t work, so I did not plan to hire

    a lawyer. Then I read a blog said hiring a lawyer helps a lot, so I hired one right before I filed. It’s expensive. So far I’ve spent over $8000 in legal fees.” - Asylum seeker from Ethiopia “
  5. More questions through more channels → overwhelmed offices THE PROBLEM

    ESCALATES Offices have no room to sit because paper files take up so much space.
  6. With more understanding, comes more control ➔ Better content strategy

    ➔ Make clear what’s happening and why, steps they can take, and how to do so RECOMMENDATION
  7. Research Methods Interviewed 14 affirmative asylum seekers Observed inquiry day

    in Arlington, intercepted 20 applicants Analyzed data from inquiry paper forms to find FAQs 15
  8. “What can I do in this stage of the process?

    What status can I expect next and when?” “What is a receipt number? It is different from the ‘A #’? And what is the ‘RCPT #’?”
  9. Web

  10. It was difficult for HQ to enforce standardized policies (e.g.

    secure email), and field offices already developed their own policies. CHALLENGE
  11. Launched Feb 2019 Finding alignment on the problem was difficult:

    easy appointment-making v.s. fewer walk-ins. CHALLENGE
  12. Make the line shorter or Make the line go faster

    Don’t just make it easier to wait in line
  13. 1. Make the ask IRL 2. Reorder interview procedures 3.

    Intentionally select location 4. Secure and anonymize data