case study:

Ambassador Connection

Connecting the public with a provided service.

The Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District (MDID) was in need of creating awareness and engagement with their Ambassador program and support their main goal of making downtown a safer and more welcoming space for people to enjoy. With a broad problem space to work in, I had the opportunity to explore different opportunities in order to create a tool that would bring value to the MDID.

The Challenge

The Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District (MDID) defined three problem spaces within which to work:

  1. The activation of Nicollet as it undergoes construction and prepares to reopen.

  2. Leverages downtown employees and volunteers.

  3. Improving engagement and awareness of the MDID ambassadors.

From creating a digital tool to a campaign driven event, the MDID was open to ideas that would provide value in one of these problem spaces that could potentially be implemented within the organization's current structure.


The Approach

After spending some time reviewing existing research provided by the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District and doing some initial information gathering, I chose to focus my attention towards creating a digital tool that would improve the engagement and awareness of the MDID Ambassadors.

By spending time observing people downtown, conducting interviews with the public, business managers, and Ambassadors, doing online surveys, and researching competitors, I was able to design and prototype an application focused on allowing better interaction by being able to report incidents and viewing Ambassadors that are in close proximity.

Finally, I tested my interactive prototype with real users in the field and made changes based on their feedback.

Initial Research and Surveys

After reviewing the research that was previously conducted by the MDID, I was able to get a basic understanding of the issue they were having but the data was insufficient and didn't explain WHY there was a lack of awareness and engagement with the Ambassadors.

I spent an afternoon downtown conducting observational research and interviewing the public, business managers, and the Ambassadors. I was able to get a better understanding of the problem at hand and the issues that were causing a lack of engagement and awareness.

To gather more types of data, I conducted a survey of 56 people to better understand how people viewed the Ambassadors and what types of tools people used when spending time downtown.

Are you familiar with the Ambassadors and the services they provide?

When visiting a new city for the first time, how do you navigate?

After gathering the data from my research, I was able to better define the problem at hand:

Pedestrians and Business Owners have a difficult time locating Ambassadors that are in close proximity to them, which causes a lack of engagement. Currently, there is no easy way to report an incident, see any of your previously reported incidents and if they have been acted on, and no way to easily access the Ambassador’s Weekly Reports, causing a lack of awareness.


Once I defined my problem, I created a solution statement to help determine my next steps:

Create a mobile-centric, digital tool that enables pedestrians and business owners to easily locate Ambassadors in close proximity to them when they are not able to locate them in person. The tool also allows for them to more easily report incidents, view incident history, and view weekly reports.



Wireframes and Interactive Prototype

Based off of my research and findings, I created wireframes to visualize the main features that I found would be most beneficial for users. Next, I created an interactive prototype to test these features. I wanted to make sure it’s as accessible as possible, so I tested it against the WCAG 2.0 standards whenever possible. 

  1. Interactive Map with view of Ambassador in close proximity.

  2. Incident Reporting and access to previously reported incident status.

  3. Access to weekly Ambassador Reports.


Usability Testing

After completing my interactive prototype, I wrote a usability test script and headed downtown. I conducted four tests with real users using InVision. I received feedback and was able to make updates to the prototype.


Next Steps

I would want to conduct additional rounds of usability tests with added features that were left out of the initial design due to time constraints. These additional tests are necessary to make this application a truly valuable resource.

I would also need to consult a development team to determine feasibility and costs associated with an application of this scale. During my initial research, I discovered that the Ambassadors used an existing tool for communication that could be tied into this application. Further exploration into how these two tools could be utilized together would need to happen.

Finally, I would want to explore creating a large scale campaign that ties into the app to help with awareness of the Ambassadors for people coming to the city for the first time or infrequent visitors to downtown.