February 1, 2016 Office Hours Q&A and Video Recording



February 1, 2016 Lunch UX Webinar Questions & Answers
How do households usually get the form? Is it sent home? Emailed out? Or does it differ between districts?

It varies by district, but schools/districts typically send the paper form via mail or send students home with a copy during their first week of school. Electronic applications, if available, are usually accessed via the district’s website.


How do schools usually adapt or change the application?

Since this is the first electronic prototype that will be published by USDA, we are not entirely aware of how schools/districts might adapt or change our prototype once it is launched. However, we can say that at a minimum, schools typically add their names and contact information to the paper prototype, and will likely do the same to the electronic application.


Can children fill out an application? Does it necessarily require an adult signature or an adult to complete it? I know when I was a kid I filled out most school related forms and just had my mother sign it. Is the signing adult assumed to be living in the household or could it be someone just helping (preparer)?

Schools/districts cannot control who fills out the application, but the statute (law) that governs the Programs states that the application must be signed by an adult household member in order to be considered complete and valid.


What is the reason for a native desktop application? We know that most lower-income households are more likely to have smart phones, but not desktop computers or laptops.

In order to make the competition fair for everyone and have one standard measure for all contestants, we determined that a desktop application was most suitable. Mobile adaptability is a feature that you may include, but it is not required. After the competition, FNS may develop a mobile-friendly version, but we currently want you to focus on the design, behavioral prompts, and edit checks to promote accuracy and a seamless experience for the end user.


Do contractors, freelancers count as self-employed like a lyft drivers?

This is a good question, but one that is outside the scope of our agency (FNS). The income section of the electronic applications should be designed using the best UX possible to help ensure complete income reporting. No need to worry about ensuring that all income is categorized with the precision that would be required for filing taxes. You will further note that basic instructions are provided with the paper application prototype detailing how to report income from self-employment.


What are the typical demographics of someone who fills out the application? Sex, age, typical time spent in school, etc.

Our programs reach about 30 million children each year, of which about two-thirds qualify for free or reduced price benefits. This is a very diverse population that is represented by a wide cross-section of our nation’s populace, so we cannot generalize to a specific demographic.


Can adults estimate monthly income if it is irregular? Tips, Self employment?

If the current month’s income is higher or lower than usual and does not fairly or accurately represent the household’s actual circumstances, the household may, in conjunction with determining officials, report the prior month’s income or project the household’s annual rate of income, taking into account their typical level of resources.


Have there been any submissions as of yet?

Yes, there have been submissions entered and we hope yours will be the next to come in!


I am assuming the entire source code - has to be open sourced? Does that mean we cannot use any proprietary libraries?

Yes. Everything that a contestant provides as their submission needs to be open sourced under the MIT license as described in the rules. That does not necessarily mean that proprietary libraries cannot be used. However, you need to own all elements of your submission, have the rights to use them, and have the rights to put it forth under the MIT license.


Aside from the obvious (not listing all income or household members, or not correctly noting assistance programs), any other main areas of the form we should be providing extra help for?

It is true that the areas you mentioned have been the most confusing sections for households, but we are hoping that all parts of the application incorporate UX elements, edit checks and behavioral prompts that facilitate the ease and accuracy with which households complete the form.


Can you explain what the phrase “supported by household income” — specifically, what does “supported” means exactly? Providing example scenarios would be most helpful. 

‘Supported by household income’ would be a person who lives in the household and contributes to household’s shared income or expenses. However, there are some cases where a person may live in the household, but their resources are not shared with other members of the household. Some examples are renters, boarders, or family members who are financially independent.


If we try to get our project in a little early, say-mid-to-late February, is that enough time for you to provide feedback so we can tweak it?

The Devpost team will review submissions for eligibility in the order they are received. Please refer back to the eligibility requirements to ensure your submission includes all required elements to be eligible for competing. If you have not met these requirements, Devpost will inform you of missing components or required changes. Please note that we will do our best to review submissions as quickly as possible. However, we highly encourage all participants to submit early as we cannot promise that all submissions entered within the final days of the submissions period will be reviewed for eligibility before the deadline. Submissions will not be made public until the submissions deadline passes.


Do we also have to build a database/backend which collects the form data? Or we just have to do the UX of the form only?

The submission will need to include some way to save and export the data. It does not have to be a database that will do anything beyond capture, saving, and exporting application responses.


In the solver pack you've stated frequency of household income has an impact on eligibility? If some one has two jobs or benefits with different payment frequency how is this reported?

The income section of the application must allow households to enter multiple sources of income, as well as the frequency of each source. It is up to you to decide how to design or organize the income portion of your application to facilitate complete and accurate reporting. If you would like more detailed information, check out the Income interview for adults and children, located on the Resources page of the challenge website.


The Edit Check example that was shown earlier in this presentation prompts the user to verify that the entered income (bi-weekly or monthly) is what user really wanted to enter. If correct then we don't necessarily need to create a new Total Income field?

A “Total Income” field is not required. The examples in the presentation, both the edit check and the behavioral component, were for illustrative purposes only. However, incorporation of edit checks and behavioral prompts is part of the judging criteria because we recognize them as providing some of the key functionality over what is possible with a paper application. Therefore, we highly encourage you to include these and/or other evidence-based edit checks and behavioral components in your design.


What happens our entries after the competition?

After March 1st, all the entries will get posted to the website. At that point, judges will review all of the applications, determine winners, and FNS and Devpost will award prizes.


Is it OK to test with Chrome browser? or we should test with others also

We do not have a requirement for which browsers you need to be able to support with your application. The only requirement is that it runs for a desktop browser. That said, it would do you a good service to test on the top browsers such as Chrome, IE, Safari, and Firefox.


I assume the UX we create will eventually be given to a developer. What are the typical skill sets of those developers?

What we’re looking for is that you’ve coded your application in a way that allows for someone with expertise comparable to yours to understand and build from where you’ve left off. Use good practice and refer to the requirement on Application Code Documentation and Implementation.


Can you define "Adult" in terms of the age? For example, the form asks to enter the last 4 of social security # of the primary wage earner or "other adult" household member...I am guessing it does not have to be the same adult signing the form.

It looks like you are thinking of an effective edit check or prompt, and we thank you for your efforts. However, for the purposes of building your application you need not worry about who qualifies as an adult. Furthermore, the adult that signs the form does not need to be the primary wage earner. It would be sufficient for the application to prompt that “an Adult must sign the form”. Typically, we would expect that an applicant would understand the distinction between an “adult” and a “child” or “student.” In rare cases where this is a concern or overlap may exist, we expect that school officials will become involved, though this is not an element that needs to be addressed via the prototype.


Is there any interest in designing the UX for configuring the application with values like school district name, or state SNAP program name?

Your application will be customized by school districts. That is why it is important for you to submit well-documented code and/or UX that is easily customizable. Please note that including a customizable UX is not required. 


Are there web services or web service integrations that can't be used in the application? Say like google sign-in or dropbox?

There are no specific restrictions in the rules around which web service integrations may be used in your entry. However, please remember that all elements of your application must be provided and open sourced under the MIT License. You’ll need to ensure that any web services included in your application may be open sourced under that license. 


Any recommendation on the length of the demonstration video for submission? 5 mins or longer etc.

The shorter the better, so long as you’re capable of demonstrating what the application can do and keep the judges’ attention. Please feel free to use methods you see necessary for emphasizing elements of your application you’ve worked hard on.


The image of the web-based form design; does it have to be a wireframe; any requirements we should know about.

The official rules state that “The image(s) should be photographs or screenshots of your working Web-based Form.” You may also include your initial wireframes with your working entry if you choose.


Can we include additional content in the experience? Example for additional content: having content around nutrition on the site after the survey. Another example: based on someone’s household size and income highlighting healthy recipes that fit their budget

Including additional content over the required elements will not disqualify your submission, though content above and beyond the instructions and required statements is something that FNS leaves to the schools/districts to decide.


Are there any accessibility concerns we should take into consideration? This is government related sort-of right so is it required to adhere to the ADA?

The rules do not specify that you must adhere to the ADA standards. FNS will consider accessibility concerns when it develops the working prototype post-competition.


The signature part should we just fake it or follow what's pretty standard and use a faux generated signature that takes in name, birthday as a sort of way of saying I am who I say I am?

The rules do not specify that your application must comply with any specific standards related to electronic signatures. FNS will address electronic signatures when they develop the working prototype post-competition.