UX Research

Brigade Personas

Identifying Code for Chicago's target user groups and leveraging that insight to inform the website's content and organization operations.

Cropped image of the full affinity diagram

Cropped image of the full affinity diagram


Code for Chicago

Code for Chicago is a subsidiary of Code for America with the goal of making tech accessible to everyone. Through Civic Tech, our work can bridge the gap between nonprofits and technology. Code for Chicago operates as a pro-bono digital consultancy. Code for Chicago identities the needs of the community and partners with local organizations for Civic Tech projects. These roles include, but are not limited to: Developers, UX/UI Designer and UX Researchers.

The Challenge

When Code for Chicago launched its website back in 2019, there were a lot of assumptions that went into creating its content. There was no formal research facilitated to gather insight into who the users are and how might their needs be considered for the website’s user journey. 


A series of remote user interviews were conducted between October 2022 to January 2023. The purpose of this study was to establish deep understanding of key user groups and identify user motivations for volunteering for CfC and other brigades. The researchers gathered and analyzed data from interviews with 9 active Code for Chicago volunteers. Data was synthesized and was leveraged to improve Code for Chicago’s website and serve as a baseline for further volunteer research.

Project Timeline

October 2022 to January 2023

Problem Statement

When users come to the Code for Chicago website, what is it that they are looking for? How might the Code for Chicago team design the website in a way that addresses our user’s prioritized needs?

Our Approach

Test Development and Pilot Testing

A test-plan was created by the Meta Projects UX Research team. The test plan consisted of a problem statement, study purpose, scope, research questions, participant criteria, feature prioritization, logistics, test outline and script. 


Participants were recruited through LinkedIn and sourced by team members. Participants completed a recruitment screening questionnaire which identified whether or not they were current volunteers for Code for Chicago (defined as: unpaid volunteers for CfC who have completed onboarding and have actively worked on a project within the last 6 months).

Who were the participants?

The required criteria was as follows: 


Meeting Format

The user interviews were conducted remotely via Zoom with a moderator and at least one notetaker. The meetings followed a conversation guide. Each session lasted between 40 to 60 minutes. The outline of the conversation guide were broken up into 3 sections: (1) learning about the participant, (2) their motivations for volunteering, and (3) their onboarding experience.

Facilitation & Synthesis

At least one member of the research team took notes on each session. Findings were compiled into an affinity diagram which identified key insights, pain points and opportunities. After identifying these key parts, the research team submitted final insights and recommendations. Each interview was recorded so the entire research team could review it.


In summation the key themes identified were broken up into four categories: (1) Volunteers and their Motivations, (2) Onboarding to Code for Chicago, (3) Approaches to Volunteer Work, and (4) Supporting Volunteer Needs and Goals.


The follow were a summary of the overall recommendations. Further insight and analysis can be gathered from the research report.

More Case Studies