NYC is an autonomous agency under the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) that aims to advocate youth interests through connecting with the youth sector and enabling holistic youth development. NYC is the national coordinating body for youth affairs in Singapore, and has since made great strides to engage with the youths through various programmes such as OBS and YouthCorps.
As interns, the team was in charge of designing the web application called On My Way (OMW), from the wireframe of the website to the content to include. OMW is built on 5 pillars, Know It All,Day in the Life, Networking Connects, Let's Chat! and Taster Programs, with the aim of being a one-stop platform for all things career related.
My work experience can be summarised into 2 halves. During the first half, my main responsibilities included prototyping the web application on Figma, conducting career interviews and write ups, creating infographics and finding a suitable platform for conducting Networking Connects.
In order to create the prototype, I had to learn how to navigate the Figma software, so I learnt from the free tutorials on the Figma website and asked the other interns that had prior experience using Figma. Then, the team created a branding guide and sketched out possible designs for the web application. We also conducted user testing by allowing users to interact with the OMW prototype directly and observing if the features of the application was easy to access and intuitive for them. Prior to this internship, I never had any experience in developing web prototypes. I learnt how to navigate the software and the importance of visual hierarchy, colours and typography for website design, as well as implementing design centric principles for a better user experience.
By the end of this duration, I had conducted a few interviews with working professionals to better understand their jobs and gain useful insights which can help guide youths that want to pursue a similar career path as them. I also gained lots of experience using Adobe Illustrator to create engaging and colourful infographics.
During the second half, we began to scale up the project, expanding from the initial 3 focus industries to a total of 7 industries. We also began development of the website, liaising with external vendor Revez that is developing our prototype into a workable website. There were weekly zoom meetings for us to discuss with Revez the best way to implement the website, and ensure the website would look the way we wanted it to. It was definitely an eye-opening process, where I got to be involved in the process on negotiation and communicating the teams’ ideas to the vendor. The team also had to rework our old prototype, removing the infographics in order to make our website responsive.
You can explore our working prototype here.
Given the COVID-19 situation, we had to work from home. I never got to meet the other interns and was unfamiliar with the project itself. I was thus awkward with the team and did not know how I could contribute to the discussions and projects. Splitting the work between us was also a challenge. It was hard to keep track of what the others were doing and thus we were slow to complete our tasks.
Apart from reorganizing the google folder and the timesheet, we also decided on holding zoom meetings regularly twice a week, to check in on the status of our tasks, and reassign tasks if needed. We also have a weekly zoom lunch and games for us interns to get to know each other better, thus helping us to work better as a team. As I became more comfortable with the team and we developed a suitable method for us to remain organized and stay on track, it definitely became more manageable to work in such an environment. We developed a master excel sheet that helped us to stay organized, and even as we scaled up our project in the subsequent weeks, we were able to keep up with the work, and note the different tasks each of us were responsible for.
TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK
Working remotely was a definite challenge, but by staying organised and having a clear system indicating what task needs to be done and who is doing it helped the team to work efficiently. It was also important to get to know each team member as individuals, to better understand how each other works and thus prevent misunderstandings during discussions.
HAVE THICKER SKIN
During the research phase, we had to contact many individuals from a variety of jobs to find out more about what they do. Knowing who and what to ask from these people was something I had to pick up slowly as I reached out to more people. I was hesitant initially, but I realised that sometimes just daring to ask others for help is all the difference you need to find the next lead needed in our project, and most people are more than happy to share about their experiences.
THE IMPORTANCE OF GOOD DESIGN
When it comes to building a product consumers will use, keeping the user at the heart of the matter is crucial. I learnt how to keep a mobile web page user-friendly through the multiple user testings we conducted - from how to phrase and format the text, to using colours and graphics to help emphasize or draw attention to certain elements we wish to highlight to the users.
This internship was definitely not a typical one, where I worked with a team of people which I have never met face to face before, and was totally remote. However, I have gained valuable experiences during this period, namely prototyping on Figma and how to communicate better. I believe I have become more forthcoming with my ideas, and this internship has raised my interest for web development a design. Moving forward, the skills I have learnt will definitely be useful for future projects, and help me to keep a design centered approach when solving problems. Of course I hoped to have been able to work with the team face to face, which I believe would have made communication much easier between each other, but ultimately I am glad to have taken up this internship at NYC, and I would do my best to emulate the organisation’s work ethic in my future career.