A UX Case Study: Designing a new volunteering feature for Upwork’s freelance platform through user research and testing

UX Concept Project | 2 Weeks | 4 People


Rosh Ghedia

3 years ago | 4 min read

The below case study showcases a summary of the project. To read my full UX process please click here.

UX Concept Project | 2 Weeks | 4 People


Upwork is a global freelancing platform where businesses or individuals connect to conduct business for their hiring needs within specialised fields.

This was a group project assigned to me through General Assembly’s design course which was all online due to Covid-19. The end deliverable was a high-fidelity prototype for Upwork’s new volunteering feature and a final presentation.

The brief

We needed to expand Upwork’s offering to include a new volunteering feature, without confusing it with their core function of being a platform for paid work. The new feature would allow users to browse opportunities and apply for jobs directly on the platform.

My Role

User interviews, surveys, competitor analysis, experience mapping, leading and participating in the design studio, affinity mapping, ideation, usability testing, wireframing and building the mid and high fidelity prototype with the user in mind.


We used the double diamond model to discover, define, develop and deliver the project.


Sketch and InVision to create the wireframes and prototype. Trello for project management, and Miro for the design studio and collaboration.

Research Methods + Deliverables
  • Survey, user interviews, competitor analysis
  • Affinity map, persona, empathy map, experience map, storyboard, problem statement
  • Design studio, retrospective, impact vs. effort matrix, site map
  • Usability testing, low/mid/high fidelity prototypes and a style guide


Producing an interactive prototype within 2 weeks resulted in some limitations of site functionalities and the elimination of a card sorting exercise to inform the global navigation. This was not detrimental to the project.

Who did we design for?

The survey, interviews and competitor research led to the creation of our persona, Erick. He’s a 24 year old graphic design graduate who is looking for skill-based volunteering opportunities to add to his portfolio.

Highlights + Challenges

What excited me about this project was demonstrating my passion for UX in a team environment. I did this by providing constructive and critical feedback on deliverables, bringing out people’s strengths, being proactive at every stage of the process, and taking lead when necessary to deliver the work.

Delivering the project as a team required the ability for me to push back on ideas which were miles out from addressing the brief or research findings, but being inclusive enough to listen to everyone’s perspectives.

As volunteering is a topic I have strong positive opinions on, it was important for me to put my preconceptions aside and build empathy with users through the research.

The user research and competitor analysis was crucial in uncovering ideas for the key features that led into the final design solution

The two main aspects which the new volunteering site revolved around were being able to trust the company and job description and searching for cause-based work, e.g. homelessness. We successfully did this by allowing users to search for a volunteering opportunity by cause or skill.

As trust was paramount from the research, I developed a feature that allows job seekers to get in touch with previous volunteers to have an honest and open conversation about the company and role. The actual implementation of such a feature in the real world would require marketing support and GDPR compliance and further testing of its placement on the page.

The high fidelity prototype incorporated changes from previous iterations and most issues from the user feedback from usability testing

The prototype below is a demo walkthrough of the website, which demonstrates the two flows we created:

  • The user journey of the volunteer searching by cause.
  • The user journey of the volunteer searching by skill.

How would I measure impact?

If this new volunteering website was launched, it would be measured through new sign ups, the volume of companies signing up and the customer retention rate over a 6 month period initially. The website would be monitored on an ongoing basis for improvement, with any large dips in usage optimised through A/B testing and research.

Next steps

The next step of this project would be to test the high fidelity prototype and add features we didn’t have time to develop. The first being a soft skills quiz at the end of the application for aspiring employees to include on their profile for their future jobs.

The second idea would be to introduce mentorship collaboration to strengthen the employee’s skills within their chosen industry. That being said, as this project is part of Upwork’s main offering, I truly believe it would be beneficial to release this sister site as early as possible to its user base in its functional form, before adding in more features.


Our team had a retrospective which I believe was invaluable to the progression of the project to outline what we should start, stop and continue doing. Voicing our opinions enabled us to move from designing a feature within the constraints of Upwork’s current framework, to creating another website which was still consistent with the core offering, but fostered creativity.

As a team, we bounced off each others strengths, provided constructive feedback and looked at our work with a critical eye, which I believe is invaluable for any project.


Created by

Rosh Ghedia







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