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HomelessHealth: A UX/UI Case Study 

Problem Statement: People experiencing homelessness need a way to ensure successful local community integration or access to local services.

Role: UX/UI Designer, UX Researcher

Timeline: 3 weeks

Aim: Create an app using Design Thinking and UX methodologies that will alleviate the pressures associated with homelessness.


Despite living in the world’s sixth biggest economy, homelessness still poses a huge problem in the UK. Following a decade of austerity, (including public expenditure constraints, a global pandemic, and the UK heading into one of the worst cost of living crisis's since the 50’s), more and more people are becoming at risk of homelessness.

There are numerous efforts in place to alleviate the pressures of homelessness, however looking at the current statistics, we are no where near in solving this crisis.

In this project I aim to use Design Thinking to help alleviate some of the pressures that affect homeless people


Design Process
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Competitor Analysis


To begin the discovery phase, I set out to search for what apps are currently available on the market to assist homeless people. I focused on the aim of the app, target audience and main features.

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Secondary Research

I began to browse the internet, for articles, charity websites, and forums for the problems that homeless people faced and the possible solutions. In other words, Google was my friend. 


The underlying theme was homeless people struggle to access many services due to a lack of permanent address.

Why does everything have to be about accommodation? Full-time job? Help with mental health? Can’t get that because I’m not in full time accommodation, I can’t get accommodation because I’m not in a full-time job. It is always back and forth. And I’ve got to the point where I’m like, what’s the point?

Patient story, Healthwatch West Berkshire


I was living in a tent and I needed ID proof of address, they wouldn’t let me register without it.

Personal story, Healthwatch Croydon


Affinity Mapping

After a deep dive on the net, I collected the research I had done onto sticky notes so I could gather any themes or patterns into the different problems homeless people faced and how to potentially solve them.

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I then grouped the findings to identify the different themes.

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Theme #1
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Social Support

Homeless people are often isolated and require support to access service information and be a part of the community through social interactions.

Theme #2


There is inequality in access to health care services. The most prevalent health problems among homeless individuals are substance misuse and mental health problems.

Theme #3


Homeless people rely on food banks and donations for essential items including personal hygiene, socks, feminine hygiene products.

Theme #4



The labour market can can be discriminatory. Lack of education or training makes it difficult for many homeless people to find employment.

Although an app that could help alleviate all the themes mentioned above, this would prove to be difficult given the time constraints of the project.

I needed to focus on one theme to solve, therefore there was only one logical next step...

User Research

Collecting themes of the pressures associated with homelessness is an important first step, but it is crucial I am able to supplement this information with first-hand accounts from those who have experienced homelessness. By directly speaking with homeless individuals, I was able to gain a deeper understanding of the most critical issues they face.

I surveyed 6 homeless people in the area of Central London. All the users were male between the ages of 40-64. I asked the users to list the following services in order of priority. 

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User Insight #1
User Insight #2

86% of the users placed access to healthcare as their #1 priority.

This was followed by Drug and Alcohol Support and Social Support

User Insight #4

All users were experiencing some form of physical or mental health problem.

I was surprised by the outcome of my survey as where I believed financial support and access to accommodation would be the leading priority for the users, it seemed health care was the most pressing issue followed by alcohol and drug support.

As these two themes are closely related, I decided to focus on these areas for the product solution. To do this, I needed to carry out further secondary research, specifically on the relationship between homelessness and health to produce a revised problem statement.

Secondary Research on Homelessness and Health

Although many homeless people are registered with healthcare services (92% according to Homeless Link, Health Audit), many will not be using them.

This could be because they have moved away from the area where they are registered with a GP or because they have had a bad experience of using health care services.

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This leads to many homeless people rely on A+E departments instead of seeing a GP.

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I gathered data from the internet including university-led studies, interview scripts, and forum posts to learn more about the experiences of homeless people trying to access health services.

Research Insight 1: Homeless people experience consequences of stigma and shame when accessing healthcare

Research Insight 2 : Homeless people struggle to find alcohol and drug support (2/3 of homeless people cite drug or alcohol use as a reason for first becoming homeless).

Research insight 3:  GPs have a lack of awareness of the complex healthcare and social needs of homeless people

Now that I had a better understanding of the the problem, I needed to explore the existing programs and initiatives that aim to improve access to healthcare for the homeless population. This knowledge will enable me to design and implement appropriate features in my app that will allow users to access these services.

My research led to me to find the following services:

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Revised Problem Statements

Next, I created new problem statements and formed them into HMW questions to generate possible creative solutions for the ideation phase.

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Mind Map
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Low- fi Wireframes
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Mid-fidelity Wireframes
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I used Hick’s law to avoid cognitive overload and categorise the user's main options into manageable groups of 6. A different colour for each category is used and an illustration to create clear separations between the categories and to draw the user’s attention.

I wanted the home page to reflect the safety and support this app aims to provide by adding a personal welcome message and highlighting the live chat service.

The navigation icon is highlighted with the branding colour to show what page the user is on.


To improve accessibility, I added suggestions to the search bar, so the user is aware of the the range of services they can look and also a voice feature.

I used Gestalt’s Law of Proximity to group the different services by similarity and proximity for a clean and oragnised feel. 


For personalisation, the app includes geo location feature so the user can receive location-specific content.



To find a center, the user will find the information presented similarly to other familiar map apps. The user can easily use filter option to find the most appropriate center for them in terms of service, policy, category or location.

The use of clear information hierarchy and icons allows for the information to be easily digestible. The saved icon also allows for any centers or meetings/events to be saved to return to later.

Live Chat

The app provides real-time messaging so the users can communicate with volunteers to find support

The input field changes to an active state to highlight that the message is ready to be sent. The three dots icon gives the user an indication that someone is typing on the other end to maintain their attention. 

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Style Guide
  • Voice recognition in search bar and live chat for people with locomotive disability 

  • Colour contrast for text meets WCAG AAA requirements

  • Meaningful recommendations in search label to assist with search options

  • Touch target size for buttons designed with iOS recommendation of 44px

  • Provision of a user-friendly and clear interface with prominent icons on home page to help ease navigation can also help illiterate users 

  • Labelled features including navigation icons, search bar, chat bar

  • Consistent navigation for icons i.e back button

  • Open/Closed labels in color to provide visual emphasis in aiding users to quickly identify opening status 

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I really enjoyed creating an app that aims to solve a pressing social issue. The research I conducted helped me to make intentional design choices that meet the needs of the user. I am glad I was able to speak to real people who are faced with homelessness and develop a product that could potentially be useful to them. 

lf I had more time, I would have loved to conduct a usability study with users to gain their feedback, and be able to reiterate on my designs. I would also would have wanted to conduct a more comprehensive user research and be able to speak with users to identify features they would like to see. I would have also wanted to widen the target audience of the app to include organisations and charities and create their own user flow.

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