The Helping Hand

Role: UX Designer, UX Researcher

Client: University of Michigan –  Introduction to Interaction Design 

Timeframe: August 2019 – December 2019

Methods: Sketching, Data Collection, Affinity diagram, Personas & Scenarios, Prototyping, User Testing

Tools: Adobe Illustrator, Adobe XD


For my introduction to interactive design, I created a kiosk designed to get panhandlers off the street.
The panhandlers would be replaced by kiosks, which would collect donations from patrons. The donations will then be gathered by local homeless shelters and related non-profits and distribute gift cards equally between each participating panhandler.

My first step was finding an issue to solve. I thought it would be best to tackle an issue that affects my local community. Ann Arbor, Michigan has a large panhandling problem. I thought it was time to address it.Next step was a competitive analysis of the competition. Locally, I discovered that the competition ranged from traditional local non-profits to a unique public relations campaign.

What followed was sketching potential solutions, storyboarding ideal situations where my product could be used, and personas of my target market. Then I conducted several interviews with users of my target market. Finally, I crafted a paper, mid-fidelity digital and a final high-fidelity prototype.



Problem Statement:

Downtown Ann Arbor is a bustling and profitable neighborhood. Yet, some are not thriving financially as panhandling is a pressing issue for patrons and residents of the area. Thus, causing a rise in crime and prejudice against a vulnerable population.


In 2010, Ann Arbor Police Chief Barnett Jones told the Ann Arbor City Council that aggressive panhandling had become the No. 1 crime in Ann Arbor.



Objective & Goals:

  • Aggressive panhandling has become a problem in Downtown Ann Arbor, Business owners and consumers view panhandlers as a nuisance.
  • Law enforcement must deal with complaints about panhandlers.
  • Many would like to assist panhandlers with obtaining basic needs while preserving the dignity of the panhandler.


This situation requires social and financial intervention. The City of Ann Arbor, and several non-profits, attempted various solutions to the panhandling problem. They have tried law enforcement, a public relations campaign, and homeless shelters.



Most people report a willingness to help panhandlers from time to time.

Business owners, customers, and law enforcement look on panhandlers as a nuisance.




Possible Solutions:

  • Public relation campaign
  • Non-profit homeless shelters
  • Universal Basic Income (UBI)


  • A kiosk that replaces panhandlers physically
  • An adapted check holder at local restaurants requesting donations for panhandlers
  • Parking meter-like equipment for collecting donations
  • Vending machine that sells panhandler’s products



An Appropriate Prototype Will…

  • Connect patrons to and facilitates their monetary donations to nonprofit organizations that assist panhandlers.
  • Provide needed support of panhandlers to remove them from the streets..






A donation kiosk is viable solution to the panhandling problem in Downtown Ann Arbor. A donation kiosk allows willing supporters to contribute funds to the needy for distribution later through nonprofit organizations.   The kiosk offers those who want to assist panhandlers an opportunity to contribute in any amount through a preferred method.  Panhandlers receive needed support while maintaining their personal dignity. With panhandlers removed from the streets, local businesses should see a boost in customer activity.

User Testing:

Originally, the proposed design resembled a vending machine from which the panhandler could receive donations directly for needed support. After three user tests, the concept changed to a medium between non-profits, panhandlers, and patrons.

Considerations & Refinement:

Several user testing sessions indicated that those who donated to panhandlers wanted to ensure that their contributions were used wisely for necessities like food and shelter, not alcohol or street drugs. Thus, the vending machine became a donation kiosk.


The course final was to submit the final prototype and present my product. In addition, I also created a logo in Adobe Illustrator for The Helping Hand. 
While business owners, customers, and law enforcement workers may appreciate the kiosk for controlling panhandling activities, there are considerations that could affect implementation by the city.  For example, where should kiosks be located? Who will attend them? How will nonprofit organizations obtain funds from the kiosks and disperse funds? Details will need to be studied for future implementation.


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