Redesigning the NYCUFAA website: Building a social community for NYC Urban Fellows Alumni


The Urban Fellows Alumni Association is a non-profit organization for the former participants of the New York City Urban Fellows Program. While the organization aims to sustain a network of alumni to support them socially and professionally, its current website doesn’t align with its goals. This project’s goal was to create a sense of community for NYCUFAA members through a seamless web experience. Effective qualitative/quantitative research helped us find ways to involve former NYC Urban Fellows with the organization by identifying their needs and expectations. Considering the key insights, we introduced 2 sections to our final prototype – “Meet our Alumni” & “Jobs Board”. 

The Challenge

How do we enhance alumni engagement with the organization?

NYCUFAA is an organization that works towards reconnecting and engaging former participants of the Urban Fellows program. The organization was established in 1975, while it based its online presence in recent years. Hence, many former participants of the Urban Fellows program are unaware of their existing website. The organization’s primary goal was to enhance the reach of its website while encouraging more users to get involved with the organization.

In our first kick-off meeting with the NYCUFAA team, they walked us through their current website and highlighted some of the existing issues in the website preventing them from meeting their goals.


During this kick-off meeting, the team expressed their expectations which helped us set initial objectives for this redesign.

The Solution

Introducing ” Meet our Alumni” & “Jobs Board”

Interact with the prototype!

Clickable prototype – Desktop
Clickable prototype – Mobile


Getting to know our users & understanding their expectations

Our target users for this project were the NYC Urban Fellows Alumni. We reached out to these alumni over Linkedin and contacted them to conduct a brief interview session over Zoom to understand their needs and expectations. 8 participants were asked 10 questions, and each interview lasted for approximately 20 minutes.

Research Goals

For conducting user interviews, we listed our research goals in considering our project’s objectives.

  • Understanding the users’ motivations for being involved with this organization
  • Understanding channels users use to generally stay connected with their peers
  • Understanding how they connect with other alumni
  • Understanding their expectations from an Alumni website
  • Users’ Perception or famililarity with the current website


We used affinity mapping for analysing our user interview notes. The findings were divided into 6 broad categories for the purpose of this analysis :

  • User’s background
  • Their association with the organization
  • Their motivation to join the organization
  • Communication channels most frequently used
  • Their motivations for making donations to a non-profit/ prior experience with making donations
  • Their expectations from an alumni website


Our qualitative research was more inclined towards understanding the users’ expectations from an alumni website than on their perception of the current NYCUFAA website. By asking questions that gave users the freedom to express their personal needs and expectations, we were able to derive some powerful insights from our research while validating our initial objectives.

We derived this user persona by talking to users and segmenting them by various demographic and psychographic data for getting a deep understanding of our target audience.


Enhancing the Information Architecture

Simplifying and streamlining the site’s navigation

For enhancing the current information architecture we followed a 3 step process :


  • To protect the NYCUFAA member’s information and details, Searchable Directory page introduced in the “Meet Our Alumni” section would be accesible only by the logged in members.
  • Since the Jobs Board was introduced to support the organization’s members professionally, it was decided that this section would be accesible only by NYUFAA members once they had logged in.
  • To further enhance the discoverability of the most preferred content items (Insight acquired through post-testing questions – Tree Testing) , small snippets of those sections with relevant CTA’s would be provided on the Home Page of the website

While structuring our content the key idea was to align the site map with the organization’s objectives and the research objectives defined by our team ( through user interviews ).

Revised Site Map

The details highlighted in the previous findings are focused on “Meet Our Alumni” & “Jobs Board” since the 2 sections were identified as MVPs by our team.

Wireframing & Iteration

Brainstorming Design Solutions : Connecting Alumni with their Peers

After structuring all the content items into effective categories we began brainstorming ideas through paper prototyping for our 2 MVPs – 1. Jobs Board 2. Meet Our Alumni . Our goal was to create a social & professional networking for alumni


User Testing Mid-Fidelity Prototype

We conducted our first round of user testing with 5 particpants to evaluate :

  • The revised site map’s navigation
  • The categories defined
  • The labels used

Each Participant was assigned 3 tasks.

What Worked

  • All users felt the task flows matched their expectations
  • Al users felt schemes and layouts used through out the prototype matched their mental model
  • All users felt that labels clearly represented all content items
  • All users were satisfied with the Meet Our Alumni section

“I feel it’s very easy to understand how to use the Alumni Directory because the page’s
layout matches the industry standards. I am familiar with similar interfaces” – User 3

“The Alumni Directory looks clean and familiar. I feel information retrieval is quick and
easy. All the relevant information has been provided and is clearly visible” – User 1

What Didn’t Work ?

  • 3/5 users disliked the structure of the Landing Page in the Job Board section . They felt they struggled a little to find relevant information
  • One user felt Post a Job form for mobile was incovenient since they had to go through multiple scrolls for filling up a long form.

How we fixed it !

Removing irrelevant information while only keeping 2 main functions of the landing page – ” View All Jobs” and “Post a Job”. This further enhanced the discoverability of the 2 sections on the landing page.
A step-wise form to prevent long scrolls while guiding the user through each stage.

Our team presented the final prototype to the clients over a Zoom meeting. We walked them through our prototype while explaining to them our concept. The NYCUFAA team was very impressed with our concept and design decisions and felt this redesign would drive the website in a new direction. The team was exceptionally impressed with our Jobs Board section as one of the members expressed, ” A Jobs Board! This is exactly what we wanted !”


  • While we delivered this project effectively as a team, this project has helped me evaluate and validate the skills I possess as an individual contributor.
  • Conducting remote user interviews was a new experience which further helped me build confidence and better my communication skills.

Next Steps

I would like to incorporate the feedback derived from the first round of user testing and client’s review to take the following steps :

  • Conduct another round of evaluation tests to validate key decisions made in the final redesign.
  • Enhancing the usability of the website for older users. This would further encourage their engagement with the organization through this website.