February 22, 2016 Office Hours Q&A and Video Recording



February 22, 2016 Lunch UX Webinar Questions & Answers
1) If every child in the household is categorized as ANY one or more of the following: "Head Start", "Foster Child" or "Homeless", "Migrant", or "Runaway", then do we skip the Assistance Program question?

You may want to consider asking about participation in an assistance program first since it confers eligibility to every child in the household.

(Post-webinar addition: This question ultimately boils down to a design choice. Although it is true that Head Start, foster, homeless, migrant and runaway are all situations that confer eligibility, each child must qualify on his on her own. Participation in an assistance program by any one family member confers eligibility to every child in the household. This is why we recommended that you consider asking about participation in an assistance program first. But again, it’s really up to you.)


1a. Follow up on my first question. You mention having the assistance program questions first, but then we would still have to get the children's names. So if I'm putting step 1 as the same step 1 as the paper prototype, do you still need assistance program

If you asked assistance program first, yes, you would still need children’s names so that the school knows who is applying.

(Post webinar addition: We missed the reference to the steps in the paper prototype in this question during the webinar. If we could have a “do-over”, we would say: There is certainly no requirement that the steps of your electronic application match that of the paper prototype. That said, if you were to ask for student names and statuses first, and every child meets the criteria for those statuses, then no, you would not technically need to prompt for the case number.)


1b. Trying 1 more time on this question: I'm starting with children info, including status of foster, etc, if all children qualify, they are eligible and can skip over income. do you also need assistance program info if this is the case?

Participation in an assistance program confers eligibility to all students in the household, so prompting for this first could potentially save the household from having to answer multiple questions about individual student status. We do not want to dictate the way your application flows, but that is what we would recommend.


1c. Thanks for the clarification. I don't agree that it's the most user-centered way to start an application (have assistance program info as first question). So if I'm starting with child info, do you still need assistnace program info if all kids are foster?

No, if all kids were foster, you would not need assistance program info. We do not think that is especially the best way to organize the questions, and we would not recommend that you do that, but we want to leave plenty of room for your vision and we are interested to see your designs.

(A little later in the webinar we came back to this question.)
Revisiting the question about the order of student names, student statuses and assistance program case numbers, we would like to clarify that there no requirement that the student statuses follow the student names. In other words, there is nothing stopping you from prompting for student names and then assistance program case number and then student statuses.

(Post-webinar addition: It seems we created some confusion by posting the paper prototype as a resource. We wanted to provide a concrete example for abstract questions such as “student status” and “income frequency”, but we are seeking an electronic application that goes beyond the possibilities of a paper form, and is designed for efficiency and with cutting edge UX.)


2. For the optional "Children’s Racial & Ethnic Identities Question", do we ask this per child that is entered on the application?

For the purposes of this competition, yes, it is okay to ask the race and ethnicity question of each child listed on the application.


3) If every child in the household is categorized as ANY one or more of the following: "Head Start", "Foster Child" or "Homeless, Migrant, Runaway" then household income information does not need to be collected at all. Is that a correct statement?

For the purposes of this contest, yes, if every child in the household is a Head Start participant, foster child, or confirmed homeless, migrant or runaway, then the household does not need to enter the income information. This is consistent with the scenario matrix, which we posted under the resources tab to clarify some of the original material that was less clear.


4) Should we put text on the application that states the applicant only has to enter one case number for assistance programs (SNAP, TANF, FDPIR)? If so, do you have language for this?

Yes, only one case number is required, so it is fine to state that the applicant only has to enter one, but it is not required that they enter only one. With the limited space on the paper prototype, it made sense to advise applicants to only enter one, but it’s up to you if you would like to prompt for more.


5) Ideally, how long should our videos be? I was thinking 2-3 minutes...

Per the rules videos should be 5 minutes or less. However, you will not be disqualified for going over 5 minutes.


6) On the paper prototype, there is question to record the TOTAL # of HH members to verify that number corresponds to the people entered. Do we need to have the user enter this number online, or can they just verify that the number is correct?

Again, this is really a matter of design. Either prompting the applicant to enter the number of household members or verify that it is correct is fine.


7) The fast-track scenarios based on public assistance benefit for the household or the categorical status of children in the household only apply to "student children" and not to any "non-student children" for which the application is not being submitted?

While any child, student of not, may be foster, migrant, runaway, or Head Start, for the purposes of the school meal application that information is only relevant for children that are applying for school meal benefits. Additionally, if a household is applying based upon assistance program participation then only the names of the student children applying, program case number, contact information, signature, and date are required.


8) followup to @lucas @kevin does this encompass kids that aren't students such as babies etc?

Everything stated above applies to non-student children. Keep in mind though that any child ages 0-5 could participate in a Head Start program and therefore be considered a student child.


9) Is USDA planning on centrally hosting the backend of the form?

No, we will not be hosting the backend of the form.


10) For the Admin part, are you looking for a specific format for exporting application, like csv or pdf?

The rules have not specified as specific format for the application exports. Please keep in mind that once the prototype is completed, school districts may need to access the data in different formats, so you should choose a data format that is commonly used (such as CSV or XML, etc.).

11) Is security part of the judging consideration? How much time should I spend locking down endpoints, etc.?

There is no specific requirement or judging criteria that addresses security. However, you should keep the final two judging criteria (listed below) and make sure that your code has been deluged and is well documented.

  • Application Code Documentation & Implementation Includes the completeness and efficiency of the application documentation and code.
  • Demonstration of Testing and Debugging Includes the extent to which user testing and debugging was performed and demonstrated within the submission.


12) If we are hosting the working prototype, are we not allowed to make changes on the backend code past 3/1?

Correct, we ask that you do not make changes to the code between the submission deadline (March 1st) and the winners announcement date (March 31, 2016).

13) Can you elaborate on the image requirement for an image/screenshot of the design? Is it asking for a wireframe of the application?

The rules state that “The image(s) should be photographs or screenshots of your working Web-based Form.” You are welcome to include wireframes in addition to these images if you like. 

14) Will you be demo-ing every application or only some of them, based on the videos submitted?

The rules state that “JUDGES are not required to test the Application and may choose to judge based solely on the text description, IMAGES and video provided in the Submission.” However, all submissions will be reviewed prior to judging by the Devpost team.

15) How much of our process would you like to see the "our story" part of the submission?

The rules state that “The text description should explain the features and functionality of your Web-based Form and how the design improves user experience for applicants and reduces error.” Any story you’d like to include in addition to that is welcome.

16) This was fun. Does USDA have any other challenges in the pipeline?

Not at this time, but yes, we are hoping to have another challenge in the future.


17) Follow up on race / ethnicity question, realizing it's optional, but it's asking race / ethnicity for the children. if house is multi-racial, it might be confusing for the applicant. is it ok to ask this per child (noting it is optional each time)?

Yes, for the purposes of this competition, it is okay to ask the race and ethnicity question of each child listed on the application, noting that it is optional each time. It is also okay to just ask it once and allow households to select all that apply.


18) Do you want proof of research (interviews? Questionnaires?) that we did before the project started?

Including proof of research you did prior to the project is not required. We are more interested in the testing feedback you received on your working application.

19) For the export option, is it merely a dump of the database or are there particular requirements or is it up to us?

The rules state that your submission must ““Include a way to capture, save, and export the completed web-based form responses.” There is no set number of fields required; however, all applicant information relevant to eligibility should be captured and should be able to be exported. Please keep in mind that once the prototype is completed, school districts may need to access the data in different formats, so you should choose a data format that is commonly used (such as CSV or XML, etc.).

20) For the purposes of this hackathon, does there need to be an administrator login?

No, for the purposes of the hackathon an administrator login is not required.


21) Do we need to have a feature that allows editing an already submitted application or is that beyond the scope of this Challenge?

That is beyond the scope of this challenge. You are not required to include the ability for a user to edit their submitted application. 


22) Should we have an introduction or information page, or just jump right into collecting information from the applicant?

Again, this is really up to you. Whatever you think is the best UX design!