X4impact Website

Building an information sharing platform to connect nonprofits and tech entrepreneurs


X4impact aims to bring nonprofits, tech entrepreneurs, academia, and foundations together to share resources and solve social problems. The product plays a critical role in this mission because it will pave way for nonprofits, academia, tech entrepreneurs, and funders to evangelize ideas, gain alignment and drive social change efficiently.

My role

Brought in as the company's first UX Designer, I established our process, collaborated with stakeholders to finalize the SaaS model. I anticipated user needs, rapidly prototyped to sort out MVP version, collaborated with data scientists to make data actionable, and worked closely with developers to ship the product. The first version laid the groundwork for multiple subsequent iterations in the future. This was the start of something big.

Jump to final prototype?

"X4Impact is a powerful platform that accelerates our ideation and funding phase of powerful AI to address the urgent needs of our vulnerable communities”
Gary A. Officer | Founder, CWI Labs

"X4impact market intelligence and money flow visualization opened our eyes to a large market opportunity, inspiring us to launch a new set of offerings just to serve nonprofit organizations.”
Jean Paoli | CEO, Docugami

"X4impact has been instrumental in our journey as Social Tech Entrepreneurs. Access to data intelligence, alongside the concierge service, helped us refine our tech prioritization and market plan.”
Cody Merril | CEO, SocialWyze

"The ability for orgs to select which SDG they think their work maps to is interesting and useful for work I'm doing in the future.”
Tech Webinar Participant

design process


Meeting the users

It was clear that nonprofits lag behind rapidly evolving technology, but we weren't clear about why. I partnered with UX researcher Shelly to explore what are the challenges many nonprofits face to use technology to excel and grow. These are the key insights.

Many nonprofits struggle to build funding infrastructure due to the lack of tech support. 21% of organizations overall—and 32% of organizations with operating budgets of under $1 million— have no fundraising database.

Among the nonprofits we conducted the survey, up-to-date technology is listed as one of the key factors in keeping employees ( 58% say so) engaged.

If we do not know who the customer is, we do not know what quality is.

As for tech solution providers, a lot of them are passionate about building products to solve social problems. They are struggling to find in-depth information about the problem they are trying to solve.

From the research, it was safe to assume nonprofits and tech providers want to help each other, but they lack the means to get there. My job is to provide a solution to close the gap between them and bring them closer to the common goal.


Understand each user group and form early hypothesis

After looking into over 30 interview scripts with nonprofits and tech providers, these are the key insights that defined the early lunch version of the product.

Nonprofits work in their bubble
68% nonprofits say they want to have broader public know about their mission

Nonprofits lacks support and budget to afford tech products
From interviews, we found out 72% of nonprofits are not tech savy

More tech entrepreneurs aim to apply their skills to solve meaningful social problem

Most foundations are not online
Data shows that 90% of private foundations don't have their information sorted online. 60% of foundations have a hard time doing research to find a solid nonprofit to support.

Building an effective feedback loop between nonprofits, tech providers and foundations is vital to the quality of the customer experience.


What does each user group want from the product

Our vision for x4impact was to be the most reliable market intelligence platform for social innovations.

We did not want to present an exhaustive list of solutions and social problems to the customers. Neither did we want to curate content by a few authorities. Rather we wanted to fairly resurface the well-thought-out social challenges and most effective solutions in the market.

Our customers expect and trust us to be the source of high-quality information for social innovation.


From North Star to Design Strategy

We faced the common struggle in the early stage of product planning: we want to make it all happen in the MVP. The team struggled with prioritizing features. By having whiteboard discussions and refining the user flow, I shifted our focus to the core problems x4i is aiming to solve in the next 5 years. I realized it's important to get the product out quickly to get feedback, and build up an efficient product cycle. Meanwhile, I emphasized it's equally important to get the whole team on the same page of the product vision.

I conducted weekly whiteboard sessions to get us clearer each time on the vision of this product and what to focus on.


Combing through chaos

We evaluate the features based on thier user impact and business efforts. From there, we decided to focus on the Create and Money Flow experience for the MVP version. Interactive Data experience and Wiki co-edit experience will be for phase 2 and 3.

Prioritization metrics

Finalized user flow for MVP


Getting the idea of wheel

One of the challenges we had with the core search experience is how to make the experience both effective and playful. We did not want to offer an exhaustive list of challenges and solutions, rather wanted to focus on helping users discover challenges/solutions in their field. After interviews with NPOs and NGOs, UN SDGs turn out to be a common source of truth for 90% of them (even with NPOs from Australia)

Experience of creating challenge


high fidelity screens delivered via InVision



prototypes to communicate the interactions

walkthroughs delivered through videos

After we made a list of all the features we want to include, we soon realized the biggest challenge of the product is to decide whose experience to optimize for MVP. Ideally, we want nonprofit to come and craft challenges to share with the world, but I had a hard time to believe they would do so without any benefits. I stated this concern to our product lead and realized we need to create some incentive for them to do so. I proposed to create a reward system to encourage high-quality content. The amount of likes also offers users insight of the quality of the content.

Users can vote on the quality of drafted challenge


Simplifying the Create experience

I realized a good Create experience has a big impact on the success of x4impact. It involved trade-offs where we needed to balance off the simplicity while ensuring the information users enter is high-quality. This experience is the key to attract new customers and present what x4impact is about. To make this right, I started digging into the best practices of designing forms with our users' needs in mind. I created different versions from using modal windows with steppers to a single form. During the iterating process, I conducted field testing to observe how users interact with different versions to conclude the best practices.

Early versions of the Create experience using modal

Final Design

Bring it all to life

The videos below show some of the web designs for the Create experience and data visualization for Money Flow page.

During the implementation, I created two sets of documentation to communicate requirements to the engineering team. These deliverables consisted of Sketch spec - detailed requirements for each page and visual design spec - the design system.

Final launched version of the Create experience

Final launched version of Money Flow data visualization

the impact

A good start, and it's still day one

Since the launch of X4impact (August 2020), the results have exceeded our expectations. 550 tech entrepreneurs are using the platform to showcase their service and connect with nonprofits. 850 challenges are created by nonprofits all over the states.

Key Takeaways

Optimize the primary use case

x4impact is a complex product to start with. We tried to solve multiple problems and serve a couple of user groups simultaneously upfront. It was chaos. It was surprising how often the team can make decisions in a group setting that completely ignore the main use of the application. I realized a good technique to bring the team back on track is to remind everyone what the use cases are and how our decisions affect them. For example, although any user is encouraged to create challenges and solutions, it is not the main purpose of the platform. This informs our decision to emphasize the explore and browsing experience. By minimizing and limiting secondary or edge cases, I kept people focused on ensuring that the primary use case is always optimized even in the face of other needs and features.

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