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Second Home

Helping Syrian refugees settle in Canada

The Story

For my UX Design course's group project, we had to design an application to solve a problem under the theme of "Social Good". Our group decided to design an application to help Syrian immigrants and refugees transition to life in Canada. The Syrian Civil War has been ongoing since 2011 and an estimated 400,000 Syrians have been killed in the conflict according to the United Nations. This has led millions of Syrians to flee the country to find a better place to settle.

Our app, Second Home, is an app concept to help the incoming Syrian immigrants and refugees transition into their new home: Canada.


Type: UX/UI Design

Platform: Mobile (iOS)

Tools: Sketch

Completed: December 2017


Our team read studies and news articles regarding newcomers and refugees of war moving to a new country to gain an understanding of their struggles and needs. We also specifically researched the needs of Syrian newcomers to Canada in documents put together by government agencies and charitable organizations. We did not have access to Syrian newcomers to conduct interviews or surveys. We created a persona based on all the research and studies we found:

Areas of Opportunity

Based on our research and our persona, we defined the 3 areas of opportunity that we believed would help Syrian newcomers adjust to life in Canada. The biggest hurdle facing newcomers is the language barrier, meaning we need to help improve their English or French (Canada's two official languages) to hold conversations and be able to find a job. Additionally, newcomers really want to make sure they can provide for their kids so that they can have a better life. Finally, moving to a new country can be overwhelming when the culture is completely different than the one you were raised in, so it's important to make newcomers feel at home.


Low-Fidelity Wireframes

Flexible language options

We believed that making the app available in Arabic, English and French would be better for our users. Coming to Canada, our users would be more comfortable with the Arabic option but as they improve their English and/or French, they are able to switch to either English and French. This would also allow Canadian sponsors and volunteers to use the app.

Quick translation between Arabic, English and French

This would act similarly to Google Translate but would translate strictly between three languages: Arabic, English and French. The use case for this would be a user needing to quickly translate a word while out of the house (e.g. grocery shopping). The option to take a picture of a word and having it translated can also be used to read signs or billboards on the street (e.g. reading a billboard about a discounted Internet service).

Finding jobs tailored to newcomers

Since Canada agreed to welcome thousands of Syrian refugees, many businesses and organizations have created jobs specifically for these newcomers. Unfortunately, it is really difficult to find such jobs online as they get lost on traditional job posting websites between the jobs that require Canadian experience.

Second Home would strictly host job openings tailored to Syrian newcomers.

Finding affordable housing

Similar to jobs, many Canadians have offered affordable housing options for Syrian newcomers, especially in cities like Toronto where rent is expensive. Newcomers can now easily search for a new home in Canada that they can afford.

Meeting other newcomers

We decided to introduce a social aspect to Second Home, hoping to connect newcomers to each other since they share the same struggles and stories. The social aspect would help alleviate the homesickness that newcomers may be having but also help them have a good time!

On Second Home, newcomers can create events or social gatherings to meet others that have been in the same shoes as them and who share the same culture and traditions.

Final Design

Next: NGI Hackathon

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