Catenian Bursary Fund

A two-week UX Design sprint building on a previous web project.

A charity based in the UK, supporting young people wanting to volunteer abroad.

The Catenian Bursary Fund have been one of my clients since early 2018 and are a registered charity in the UK offering financial assistance to young catholic people who wish to volunteer abroad in developing countries - predominantly in Asia, Africa and South America, and 'make a difference' to those who are less unfortunate. They also assist those wishing to go Lourdes (a small but significant town in France) to help the physically impaired who make the pilgrimage every year.

Since 2018 I have been managing a small team to deliver to the client a bespoke PHP web application based on Wordpress that will not only accept online applications from users (via a form), but will provide the functionality for back-end users to manage those applications, from 'Received' through to 'Paid' statuses. I have been responsible for working closely with the client to establish the business needs, designing and coding the front end, and managing a creative lead and PHP developer.

Designing and building the application system in 2018

2018: Design, build and deliver the application.
2019: Focus on user experience, getting insights back from real applicants and ideating on how to solve any pain points.

The 2019 UX challenge


The web application has been hugely successful in saving the business a significant amount of administration time and costs.

However, as my 'personal project' I decided to carry out a "health check" to discover what pain points both the applicants and admin team were experiencing, and to see what adjustments could be made based on user insights.

My role


As my 'personal project' at Academy Xi, I was responsible for the entire UX process, from discover through to delivery.

Tools used

  • Figma (Prototyping)
  • Sketch
  • Miro (Sythesising)
  • Post It notes
  • Otter (Research)
  • Sublime Text (HTML Prototyping)
"The form is so overwhelming!"
"This would take forever to fill out"
“I started the application on my laptop, and the battery died halfway, and I had to start everything from scratch on my phone.”
“I didn't hear anything back about my application for almost three months!”




  • Administrator:
    Involved with the day to day management of applications.
  • Trustee:
    Views and adjudicates applications.
  • Applicant:
    Looking to volunteer abroad and applies for an "award".

Research statistics:

One on One Interviews
Over the phone with real applicants based in the UK and Australia.
Survey Responses
With real applicants based in the UK and Australia.
Usability Tests
On exisiting application with students at Academy Xi and the Australian Catholic University, Melbourne

Key Insights

  • 85% of users preferred to fill out the application form on a desktop.
  • 31% of users had to start the form again.
  • 64% of survey responders asked for form-saving functionality.
  • All applicants were between 16 & 25 years old.
  • 43% of applicants had their projects arranged by their schools.
  • 76% of applicants were based in the UK when applying for an award.
  • Many of the applicants were not kept informed about the progress of their applications.
  • All usability testers liked the colour scheme and visuals.
  • Imagery played a crucial role in communicating the purpose of the website to users at first glance, however many users were mistaken in thinking the client actually arranges volunteer trips, rather than just provide funding.



While I had conducted one on one interviews with Admin and Trustees, it was clear that the key archetype was the applicant. After some lengthy international phone calls with real past applicants (and those still awaiting their awards), I was beginning to see the journeys that the typical applicant was making in applying for an award. I did some affinity mapping combining all the insights I had gathered to establish the key issues, and then start to flesh out a Persona.

Affinity Mapping

Many of the actual applicants were positive about the look and feel of the existing website. However, after user testing with Academy Xi students, it was clear that there were pain points, particularly around the organisation of information on the site, and confusing terminology.

Affinity Map


Meet Zoe.
Zoe is a nineteen year old university student in the UK in her second year. She really wants to help others while seeing a Project as a way of developing her own life skills. She is motivated and heavily influenced by her Catholic faith.

Customer Journey Mapping

It was clear from mapping out Zoe's journey that the pain points were centred mainly around the following issues:

  • The form is too long and overwhelming.
  • The eligibility requirements are not clear and difficult to find.
  • The applicants have no way of knowing the progress status of their application.
How might we make the application and progress monitoring process easier for Zoe?



Ideation started with creating an MVP matrix to identify features that could be incorporated quickly, as well as high value features that were key, and those that would be put into a backlog to be reviewed in future iterations.

MVP Matrix

As I started to build the matrix, I relied on my development experience to identify a significant number of quick wins that could be quickly implemented to make the user experience so much better with little cost and development time.

Form development and account management, while more difficult to build was high value, and would be key to successful redevelopment and happy users.

Facilitating a ideation session
Facilitating an ideation session

I facilitated a "Crazy Eights" session with some students at Academy Xi as a way of ideating on how applicant might be able to save their applications and how they might apply for an award.

AB Testing and desktop researching the form
Researching and testing the application form

Based on this research I quickly coded two form types (accordion and tabbed) in HTML and the Bootstrap CSS framework, with the intention of doing some A/B testing to see the preferred format. Both received positive responses, however I found that the accordion form type was not really useable with large amounts of content, which made the tabbed format a clear winner.

I then carried out some further desktop research to find out how other organisations and websites handle lengthy forms.

Low fidelity Prototyping
Low fidelity prototyping

Using Figma, I created a low fidelity prototype that demonstrated the most valuable product - the form saving functionality and the application form itself. I went out and tested this on applicants to get some feedback and see what was working and what wasn't.

Project Challenges

Time differences made research challenging as over 75% of award applicants were based in the UK. This meant making phone calls between 12am and 5am to fit into times suitable for university students. Another problem was the apparent reluctance of applicants to criticise the process. The main reason for this was their age and difficulty to read true feelings over the phone, rather than face to face.

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