Somos21 is a not-for-profit organisation which aims to create connections between Australian and Latin American professionals. They host regular events and run an online platform to facilitate networking.

The majority of their users logged into the platform once and then never returned. They wanted to know why this was the case, encourage users to log in more often, and become financially self-sufficient.

Screenshot of Somos 21’s “Live feed” page. It shows the user the ability to create a new post, see which members are recently active, and access the navigation menu.

The challenge

Somos21 found that its members were not using their online platform. Built using HiveBrite, a whitelabelled online community platform, they had not done any usability testing and wanted to understand why engagement was so low.

They also wanted to find out more about their members’ needs, goals and pain points so that the organisation could better support them.

Kick-off meeting with Somos21
We conducted a “5Ws and an H” kick-off workshop with the client to better understand their product and their members.
  • UX research data
  • Key personas and journey maps
  • Usability testing
  • UI prototype
Chris Wood
UX Designer & Team Lead
Bridette McManus
Service Designer
Aomi Ito
UX Designer
Suma Kolanooru
UX Designer
Kate Bennett
CEO of Somos21
Oliver Houlcroft
Global Board Member at Somos21
Tracy Collier
Board director at Somos21
Michael McDermott
Engagement Advisor at Somos21

2 weeks



Focusing on Latin Americans who have moved to Australia, we began by scheduling interviews and researching other initiatives to help Latin Americans settle in Australia.

We then conducted 1-1 interviews and analysed data from the platform’s user database and Facebook Analytics.

platform users
Facebook analytics
Existing opportunities

Existing opportunities

We discovered a range of initiatives, including:

  • Student scholarships in to help pay for studies in Australia
  • Recruiters attracting Latin professionals who work in industries with skill shortages
  • Facebook groups which organise social and cultural events
  • Facebook groups and group chats advertising industry-specific job vacancies


We spoke to 9 Latin Americans who moved to Australia to find out what motivated them to relocate, what challenges they faced, and what helped them.

“I moved to Australia in search of a better quality of life”
“It’s been difficult financially”
“It is helpful to know someone who is from here to guide you, ideally Australian"

We also interviewed 2 volunteers from the organisation to understand their role better.

Platform data

Somos21’s platform contained a variety of information on its 1067 users’ demographics, including country of origin, Australian working rights, and professional industry. We mined the data to uncover trends and insights.

Facebook analytics

We also accessed information from the company’s Melbourne-based Facebook page to see which types of content were getting the most engagement.

In the last 12 months, 450 users had viewed the organisation’s posts on job vacancies and 5% had clicked on them. 3884 had viewed their events, and 10% had expressed interest in them.


Latin American migrants having fun

Latin American migrants

Making connections
Many of the Latin Americans we interviewed expressed a desire to integrate with the local culture and language, however they struggled to form close relationships with Australians. The majority of them relied on building rapport within communities to help set themselves up.
Colombian flag
62% from Colombia
years old
mean age on registration
53% male
Colombian flagChilean flag
Colombian or Chilean
41% Colombian, 13% Chilean
years old
mean age on registration
52% male
Somos21 volunteer working

Somos21 Volunteers

Keeping connected
Somos21’s volunteers were typically Australians who had spent time in Latin America and wished to stay a part of the Latin community by giving back.
"I wanted the Latin American experience in Melbourne"
“Things are moving a lot better than they used to"
“The work is remote and I struggle with self-motivation"

Identifying opportunities

Collating our research insights, we sought to identify which personas have contact with Somos21, what their biggest pain points are, and which opportunities existed to add value to their journey.

journey maps

Defining personas

Reviewing our research data and clustering our insights, we identified 4 personas who came into contact with the organisation.

Jose, Miguel and Andrea are Latin Americans who have moved to Australia, each in different industries and with different working rights, while Sarah is a Somos21 volunteer from Australia.

By forming these personas, we were able to identify which Somos21 members could most benefit from changes to the platform and focus on alleviating their pain points.

Synthing interview data

Focusing on Jose’s journey

We decided to map out Jose’s journey to find where we could add the greatest value to him.

We chose to focus on Jose as he had the greatest number of needs which matched what Somos21’s events and platform aimed to help with: we assumed he would have the greatest commercial benefit.

Using insights from our interviews, we created Jose’s journey map to show the steps, emotional responses, and pain points he encounters as he settles in Melbourne and tries to find work in a company which will sponsor him.

Jose’s journey
Lowest point
Jose meets with an employer but is told they can’t sponsor him.
Greatest Opportunity
How might we help Jose talk to businesses who are able to sponsor him?

Pivoting from Jose

We presented the 4 personas and Jose’s journey map to the client, but the client was unconvinced that we were going down the most lucrative path by focusing on Jose. Their intuition doubted whether Jose really represented the majority of Somos21 users.

That left us with the question:

Who represented the majority of Somos21’s users?

Recutting the data

We took a deeper dive into the platform data and found that most of the Latin American members in Australia were either on student visas, or were citizens or permanent residents.

We correlated the visa statistics with the visas our personas held to identify which persona represented the greatest portion of users:

Personas and working rights in Australia

Miguel’s journey and opportunities

We pivoted to focus on Miguel’s journey, as he represented the largest segment of users which we had collected research insights on.

We mapped out his journey from arriving in Australia through to looking for part-time work and used this to identify Miguel’s most difficult step.

Miguel’s journey
We saw the lowest point in the journey as the greatest area of opportunity for helping Miguel, and spoke with the client to decide which opportunity was most feasable.
Lowest point
Unable to find work in his industry, Miguel finds a less skilled part-time job to pay for his studies.
Greatest Opportunity
How might we help Miguel find work in his industry?


After establishing Miguel’s journey, we focused on the opportunities available in Miguel’s most painful stage of his journey - failing to secure a part-time job in his industry.

I facilitated a remote co-design workshop with our team and a key stakeholder to come up with a solution.

Remote co-design workshop
rounds of "Crazy Eights"


How might we help Miguel find work in his industry?

We focused on this statement as this was where the client felt the organisation could help Miguel the most.

We conducted 2 rounds of “Crazy Eights”: the group sketched their ideas on paper before presenting them, then voted on their favourite ideas in Miro. In the second round, they merged the best ideas from the first round into a solution before presenting and voting again.

Winning solution

Provide Miguel with free access to the jobs portal

This was the winning solution. We were to to remove the need for a paid membership to access Somos21’s jobs board and investigate how the jobs board could be improved to better cater for Miguel’s needs.

Ideation voting
Participants casting votes for the first round of “crazy eights”
Presenting ideas over video call
Bridgette presenting her sketches ideas to the workshop participants

Testing & prototyping

We sourced testers who fit Miguel’s persona and conducted current state testing with them. Using their insights, we were able to identify Miguel’s pain points on the platform and how it could be improved to help him find relevant work.

We produced a Figma prototype to improve the jobs board experience for Miguel, testing and iterating until validated.

pages modified


Current state testing


Creating the prototype and iterating

From current state testing, we identified Miguel's pain points when using the site:

  •  The homepage hero imagery didn’t appeal to Miguel
  • Miguel didn’t know where to go to find job vacancies
  • When he was shown to the “job opportunities” page, Miguel struggled to find relevant opportunities in his city.

We started by sketching out wireframes of possible solutions to these pain points. We then transferred these into Figma as low-fidelity prototypes and tested and iterated the prototype twice, validating the features and design through testing.

Progression from paper wireframe to final prototype


Prototype features


Final prototype


“The amount of work you’ve done in such a short space of time, the depth, the look of it - everything is just amazing. This gives us direction and is really good information to have right now."
Kate Bennett
CEO of Somos21

The client is in discussions with their developers to modify the platform as per the prototype.

They have also dropped their membership model and are looking to generate revenue via corporate sponsorships. This way they can achieve financial independence without putting strain on their most vulnerable member group.

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