LGBTQ+ Writes

A collaborative storytelling platform for LGBTQ+ students to share stories of resilience.

My Role       UX Designer
Timeline      9 months
Tools            Figma
Team            Haley Dabbs, Taylor Scavo
LGBTQ+ Writes screens



During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Georgia Tech Institute for People and Technology (IPAT) and the Andrew Young School of Policy at Georgia State University partnered to create the LGBTQ+ RISE UP Project, which gathered experiences of resilience among Southeastern LGBTQ+ adults during the pandemic.

Project Space

This project was an expansion of the LGBTQ+ RISE UP Project. We collaborated with the original researchers to determine how we could expand on the data that had already been collected.

Problem Statement

How might we help LGBTQ+ Atlanta students share stories and connect with others' stories through an interactive experience?

Final Product

Our final product was a web-based collaborative storytelling platform for students to share stories of resilience. Some other key features include being able to explores others' stories and being able to sort stories by how they made others feel.

Share stories

Users can share stories using suggested or custom topics and can add images or songs.

Explore stories

Browse featured topics, discover posts by mood, and view staff-picked content that connects the community to the Georgia Tech LGBTQ+ Center.

Sort stories

Stories are organized around topics to help users identify content that relates to interests, identities, places, or experiences.

Other features

Users can also add multimedia content such as photos and songs, create posts about the topic of the day, and pic interests to curate the content they see.



Desk Research

We started by familiarizing ourselves with the original LGBTQ+ Rise Up project and existing approaches to interactive installations.

Cultural Probe

After desk research, we conducted a cultural probe that was a virtual, group whiteboarding activity for LGBTQ+ students in Georgia to reflect on their experiences during the pandemic. We conducted 2 sessions and had a total of 6 participants from our target user group. The sessions consisted of 3 creative reflection activities followed by a collaborative mind-mapping activity.

We conducted a cultural probe in order to:
  1. Establish a cultural context and framework
  2. Allow for both individual self-reflection and group discussion
  3. Explore creative digital prompts as a P0 prototype for an interactive storytelling activity

Our Users

Our cultural probe demonstrated that LGBTQ+ college students share similar approaches to storytelling:

User Characteristics
User Needs
  • Funny and tapped into online humor
  • Prioritize understanding and embracing queer identity
  • Caring and crave connection with queer community
  • Balance of positive and negative
  • Flexibility in self-expression
  • Connect through shared experiences
  • Safe space to self-disclose


Low-Fi Concepts

With our project scope, user needs, and characteristics defined, we jumped into initial brainstorming. We then narrowed our concepts to 3 potential designs that we wanted user feedback on.




Key Findings

  1. Some need to have features include safety, anonimity, digital, added benefits, and low barrier of entry.
  2. Want to haves include collaborative community building, different levels of engagement, intersectionality, and identifying shared experiences.
  3. It would be nice to have an outlet for creativity, inclusion of memes and humor, and quick easy interactions.

Personas/Journey Maps

At this point, we had a much better understanding of our users than we did after our initial cultural probe. We crafted personas and journey maps for our two key user groups.


Mid-Fi Prototype

A mobile app that prompts users to share stories by using 3 randomized keywords related to LGBTQ+ identities, interests, and experiences - like reverse mad-libs.

Discount testing and concept changes

  1. Students prefer a solution that is available on the web
  2. Content organization should be simplified
  3. Keywords are a useful and enjoyable way to sort stories, but shouldn't be required to write posts

Hi-Fi Prototype

Finally, we moved into high-fidelity prototyping. We analyzed the features and aesthetics of several existing applications and websites designed for journaling or anonymous story sharing.


Usability Testing

To evaluate our system, we conducted a series of think-aloud interviews followed by Likert and SUS questions. We had a total of 8 participants including 7 LGBTQ+ GT students, and 2 LGBTQ+ students from other Georgia schools.

  • High Interest
  • Enjoyed sorting by mood
  • Mutimedia content options
  • Aesthetics
  • School email sign-on
  • Reception varied by school
  • Not enough guidance
  • UI consistency
  • Too little profile customization