The social change spectrum

Today, social change begins with technology, and an understanding of how its varied platforms can engage anyone from the impartial citizen to the committed activist. We set out to catalyze this shift, and help bring change-making into the 21st century.

Sept. – Dec. 2015


Lisa Callister
Maris Hall


Interaction design


Service design

“Slacktivism,” is more successful form of social activism than critics believe. We asked, how might we use technology to further engage this audience, and transform “slacktivism” into a powerful form of social change?

Slacktivism to activism

Despite what the haters say, slacktivism signals genuine engagement. Studies show that people “who frequently engage in promotional activity” are twice as likely to further their commitment to a cause by volunteering, donating, or canvassing. Promotional behaviors are an important signal to organizations that this audience is ready to commit if provided with the right opportunity. We wanted to learn how to harness this potential and increase our audience’s commitment to a cause. We started with David Rose’s Audience Receptivity Gradient.

Source: Audience Receptivity Gradient, David Rose

Audience receptivity gradient
structure map gif


Adapting the Audience Receptivity Gradient

In practice, designers use the receptivity gradient to construct targeted communication strategies for clients, by focusing on moving an audience one or two steps along the scale. This model paralleled our mission of using technology to offer “social champions” alternate methods of engagement with social causes. We attached four broad social causes to our model, for focus.

KOAA logo
KOAA expanded logo set


Introducing KOAA

As an organization dedicated to encouraging the voices of young activists, our brand connotes the spirit of collective and diverse voices. KOAA acts as an amplifier for these voices, symbolized in our brand’s expanding form. Branding each of these four Know, Own, Act, and Advocate points also helps orient our audience to where they are on our spectrum.

Top logo by Maris Hall
Bottom logos by Allison Press

personas map


The people of K, O, A, A

Each point on the KOAA scale has a specific audience, defined by their level and method of engagement with a cause. We constructed personas for each of these four points, located in this example, in central North Carolina.

KOAA structure map


A tailored experience

We built an experience map for each engagement point, based on each stage’s overall goal: Know raises awareness, Own produces personalized, shareable content, Act offers volunteer and hands-on activities, and Advocate trains leaders to organize and give back.


The connecting piece

With four K-O-A-A points across four social issues, the website’s landing page needs to orient users to the organization’s structure. An animation randomly shuffles and combines one point with one social issue, helping visitors understand the issues and engagement levels that KOAA supports.

The rest of the website (below) is organized by the Know, Own, Act, and Advocate points. Users scroll up and down to pass between points, and horizontally to view issue-specific content within that point.

Animation by me

website mockup


Our deliverables below illustrate how KOAA functions across one of the four issues: the environment.

know persona and task flowknow persona and task flow


The Know persona and task flow

You’re ready to get informed. You’re always looking to learn and ready to share what you’ve found. You know that being informed is one of the first steps to having meaningful conversations with others.

know touchpoints
wildlife conservation installation

Digital installation

In our example, KOAA partners with the Conservators Center to create an installation about rare, threatened, and endangered wild cats. The installation is surrounded by a projection of walking paw prints trails, each reflecting a different big cat.

snapchat mockup

Augmented reality Snapchat stories

Participants use Snapchat’s AR software to view a live, moving tiger. Participants follow the tiger and other big cats around the display, and kick their video footage to a KOAA Snapchat story.

Installation and Snapchat by Lisa Callister

own personaown task flow


The Own persona and task flow

You’re ready to get personal. Being able to relate to an issue is what motivates you. You’re naturally empathetic, caring, and want to inspire others to emotionally connect to an issue.

own touchpoints
Own app screenshots

Socially-conscious sharing

Own caters to the “over-sharer” personality, and offers issue-based activities on its app. In this example, users capture a gif-sized video of their pet and overlay wild animal noises to add a little wild spice.

App by Maris Hall and me

act personaact taskflow


The Act persona and task flow

You’ve never enjoyed sitting still. The warm and fuzzies you get from helping others prove to you that change can happen, even if it starts small.

act touchpoints
lemur toy instructions

A tangible impact

Act provides weekly, hands-on activities to benefit local organizations. The Act website provides instructions on how to complete the activity. In our example, we detail how to make a toy for lemurs at the Duke Lemur Center. The toy is made of twisted pieces of PVC pipe, forming a knot that lemur specialists use to teach animals important learning and foraging skills.

Website Illustrations and Instructions by Allison Press

advocate personaadvocate task flow


The Advocate persona and task flow

You’re ready to empower others. Somebody’s got to step up, why shouldn’t it be you? You bring activism full circle by giving back and being a role model for others.

advocate touchpoints
conservator's center tour app

Beacon-guided tour

Advocates lead KOAA-sponsored events in their communities. In our example, an Advocate organizes a tour to the Conservators Center. During her tour, she uses an iPad app to lead a rousing game of big cat and mammal trivia. The app uses Beacons fixed to nearby animal habitats. Beacons prompt the app to ask trivia questions related to their location in the Center. The app also provides the Advocate with quick facts about the animal they’re currently stationed at, to compliment their tour.

iPad App (top and bottom) by me
Mockup by Lisa Callister

conservator's center advocate app mockup