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Case Study


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HIERR Project Overview

The Hawai'i Economic Recovery & Resilience (HIERR) Project, spearheaded by the State of Hawai'i Office of Planning & Sustainable Development's Special Plans Branch, aims to develop an economic recovery and resiliency plan for Hawaiʻi. Funded by a Statewide Planning Grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration, this initiative seeks to learn from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic to foster a more resilient, equitable, and sustainable economy.

The Challenge

A primary objective of the HIERR Project is to identify and address Hawai'i's economic vulnerabilities and hardships exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. To facilitate community dialogue and reflection, the project envisioned creating an online discussion board alongside the engagement platform. This space would encourage participants to engage deeply before, during, and after workshops.


  • Qualitative Data Analysis: The project team utilized qualitative insights from Anthology discussion groups in Hawai'i to inform their user research.

  • Early Insights and Agile Methodology: Agile methodology guided the research process, with immediate usability testing revealing insights into users' tech proficiency and introverted tendencies.

  • Platform Features Exploration: Key takeaways from interviews highlighted users' preferences for simplicity, engagement, and personalized notifications in online platforms.

  • Reframing the Problem: The team employed the "How might we?" approach to address challenges, focusing on empowering less tech-savvy users to engage effectively.

  • Redesign and Flexibility: The Peer Board was redesigned to reflect Hawai'i's vision and values, emphasizing ease of use and community building.

  • Task Flow Optimization: The project emphasized designing a flexible system accommodating users' confidence levels and learning preferences.

  • Launch and Impact: Deliverables, including moderator guides, self-guided documentation, and a redesigned Peer Board, were presented to the client with confidence in their ability to enhance community engagement and resilience.



Through the HIERR Project, the State of Hawai'i aims to empower communities to share their stories and contribute to a more resilient future. HIERR seeks to navigate Hawai'i toward a sustainable post-pandemic recovery by leveraging innovative design approaches and fostering inclusive dialogue.

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