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This brief focuses on conducting a research analysis into RSPCA’s target audience.

RSPCA Logo                
  • Project starts18 July 2024
  • PrerequisitesNone
  • Project Duration7 weeks
  • Course Price $4,000

The Brief

The RSPCA is an independent, community-based charity providing animal care and protection services across the country. They are a leading source of animal welfare science, and works with governments and industries to progress animal welfare across a range of issues. In addition, RSPCA Australia runs the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme, which works with farmers and brands to improve the lives of millions of farm animals.

The RSPCA’s mission is to prevent cruelty to animals by actively promoting their care and protection. To achieve this, the RSPCA works to enforce animal cruelty laws and advocate for new legislation where required. RSPCA Australia works with government and industry to establish standards for animal care across a number of industries. RSPCA member Societies in states and territories also operate animal care and adoption facilities, and seek to raise community awareness of animal welfare issues.

This brief centers on enhancing the effectiveness of RSPCA Australia’s monthly outreach to supporters, a key channel for disseminating vital animal welfare information and promoting the RSPCA’s national partnerships, programs, campaigns and events.

RSPCA Project Image

Meet Your Mentor

Kayla Heffernan

Head of UX | WISE Employment

Meet Your Mentor

Kayla Heffernan is currently the Head of UX at WISE Employment. Over the last 12 years she has worked in UX design and research roles across multiple industries with a passion for products that do good in the world, particularly in the health space. Kayla is passionate about solving ambiguous

Kayla Heffernan is currently the Head of UX at WISE Employment. Over the last 12 years she has worked in UX design and research roles across multiple industries with a passion for products that do good in the world, particularly in the health space. Kayla is passionate about solving ambiguous problems with accessible and inclusive solutions. She is data informed and believes that UX goes beyond the digital screen.

Kayla’s PhD dissertation explored the technological realities and capabilities of emerging devices that go inside the body for non-medical purposes. She compared these uses to the fears and discourse that surround these controversial devices.

What you'll learn
During this UX design project you will put on the hat of a UX Researcher and apply advanced research techniques to come up with recommendations for your client stakeholder. Students will develop a formal research report and conduct a variety of deep research tasks during the project.

Problem Statements & User Stories

A problem statement is a concise description of a problem or issue a project seeks to address. A user story is an informal, general explanation of a software feature written from the perspective of the end user.

How it will be practiced and demonstrated

You will learn how to develop problem statements and user stories in order to drive your design process forward from a user-centric perspective. This technique is a fundamental part of UX design and Product Management and is used extensively in related fields in agile approaches to work.

Requirements Gathering

Requirements gathering is the practice of interviewing key stakeholders of a project to understand what is required to be solved. This is an important skill for anyone working in the world of problem solving, which these days affects almost all career paths.

How it will be practiced and demonstrated

All of our projects include direct access to a company stakeholder who will form the client on your project. You will get an opportunity to learn how to capture business requirements from stakeholders through a live workshop and translate this into meaningful actions to drive your design, product or marketing process during your project.

Competitor Reviews

A competitor review is a strategy where you identify major competitors and research their products, sales, and marketing strategies. Competitor reviews usually look at key criteria such as; features, value proposition, business model, strengths and weaknesses.

How it will be practiced and demonstrated

During your project, you will have a chance to conduct a competitive analysis of other products in the market that target a similar customer segment. This work will inform how you approach your product development tasks in your project.

User Interviews

A user interview is a research method during which a researcher asks one user questions about a topic of interest (e.g. use of a system, behaviors and habits) with the goal of learning about that topic. Interviews give insights into what users think about a site, an application, a product, or a process. They can point out what site content is memorable, what people feel is important on the site and what ideas for improvement they may have.

How it will be practiced and demonstrated

During applicable projects, students will need to conduct user interviews to learn about the target audience they are solving a problem for. We use a variety of methods to source candidates for your user interviews, some will be pre-arranged, some you will need to tap your network and we'll also use candidate sourcing platforms like Askable to find the perfect user to interview.

Survey Design

At times we need to move to a more quantatitive approach to customer research. Designing surveys to effectively capture the correct insights is a very nuanced skill. It's important to be mindful of leading questions and the structure of your survey so your own biases do not pollute the responses, but instead provide a neutral canvas for your end-users to share their unique insights on a particular product, problem or service.

How it will be practiced and demonstrated

Students will have an opportunity to make use of effective survey design to gather insights into a target audience during the research phases of applicable projects.

Usability Testing

When we have access to an existing product, usability testing is a staple of the iterative design process. It enables UX Designers & Product Managers to learn what works and what doesn't from their product designs and is another effective method of customer research.

How it will be practiced and demonstrated

Students on our UX & Product Fundamentals projects as well as our Advanced Prototyping projects will get an opportunity to practice running usability testing sessions to get feedback from end-users and inform their final designed solution.

Card Sorting

Understanding how to find taxonomies in the data you are sifting through will help the synthesis process and ultimately the design itself. Early in a project, designers can be flooded with information that can be overwhelming if not sifted through appropriately. Card sorting is a technique to find patterns and relationships in data to more easily digest what is being shared.

How it will be practiced and demonstrated

During the research phases of applicable projects, you will used card sorting to help refine the data you are gathering into taxonomies. In certain workshops, your mentor and fellow students will use a Miro board to sift through the groups research findings, just like a real UX team.

Information Architecture

Information architecture is all about the organisation of information in a clear and logical way. Such organisation follows a clear purpose — helping users navigate complex sets of information. Time is the most precious resource people have. We live in a world where people expect to find a solution to their problems with the least amount of effort. When the process of finding information is too complicated or too slow, there’s a risk that people will simply abandon it. And when people abandon an app or a website, it’s more difficult to bring them back.

How it will be practiced and demonstrated

During applicable projects, students will apply best practice information architecture principles to ensure their designed solution solves a users task in an efficient and intuitive way.


Synthesis is an approach to converging information into a format that is meaningful and communicable. As a UX Designer your design is only as good as your ability to communicate why it is, the way it is. By practicing synthesis of research and translating this into specific UX presentation formats, you will start to build a story for your design. Perhaps one of the most important parts of being a great designer is your storytelling.

How it will be practiced and demonstrated

During your project, you will be required to synthesise your research findings using a variety of techniques that we will teach you. Your research synthesis will be critical to supporting your design proposal to your client.

User Journey Mapping

A user journey map is a visualization of an individual’s relationship with a product/brand over time and across different channels. While user journey maps come in all shapes and formats, commonly it’s represented as a timeline of all touch points between a user and a product. UX Designers, Product Managers and Digital Marketers alike make user of user journeys to better service their customers needs.

How it will be practiced and demonstrated

During the research synthesis phase of applicable projects, students will be required to create user journey maps that reflect the journey of their target audience in relation to their assigned project / product problem area.

User Personas

Personas are a commonly used method of research synthesis used in UX Design, Product Management and at times in Digital Marketing (often called Brand Personas). At their core, persona's are about creating products with a specific, not generic, user in mind. Personas are archetypical users whose goals and characteristics represent the needs of a larger group of users

How it will be practiced and demonstrated

Students will be required to synthesise their research in applicable projects and develop User Personas that illustrate their target user. During your project(s) you will learn when personas are useful and when they are not.

During your projects, you will have a chance to practice and demonstrate competency in communication by successfully transmitting your ideas, thinking processes and solutions in a way that is easily understood by others.

Your mentor will observe and assess your competency across a number of communication related skills including;


Listening is the ability to accurately receive and interpret messages in the communication process. Listening is key to all effective communication and is not a passive process. In fact, the listener can, and should, be at least as engaged in the process as the speaker. The phrase ‘active listening’ is used to describe this process of being fully involved.


Your presence signals your capacity to stand out and make an impact on those around you. As you move into senior roles, this attribute becomes particularly important, however it is also an attribute that can support your ability to make a positive impression on hiring managers during a job interview process.


An ability to express yourself in a coherent form helps to ensure people will understand your value. Great articulators are able to clearly communicate complex scenarios to their audience to ensure they are understood. This can go a long way to supporting your interview process and building confidence in those you are communicating with.


In a modern work environment you are required to work with individuals from a variety of backgrounds, cultures and social positions. The most highly effective teams are those that are able to adapt and learn to work with a range of people and personalities.

A tried and true skill for any professional is the ability to present their ideas to an audience and effectively transmit the intended message. You will have the opportunity to strengthen your presentation skills in front of a live company stakeholder at the conclusion of your project(s).

Your mentor will observe and assess your competency across a number of presenting related skills including;


Your presentations should take your audience on an engaging journey. How you start a presentation is critical to capturing your audience’s attention and establishing the premise and flow of the story line.

Presentation Structure

The structure of your presentations will determine whether your audience comes away with new insights and understanding or if they dis-engage from your message. Take the time to consider the structure of your ideas, the order they follow and how they how to support the audience on their journey to your conclusion.


Bring home your presentations with a conclusion that links back to your main points and introduction. The goal of a good conclusion to a presentation is leaving your audience with a tangible take-away that adds value to them. Knowing your audience and what is important to them is a key starting point to forming a strong conclusion.

Audience Feedback

At times you will be required to field questions and be ready to move off-script to maintain the value exchange between yourself and the audience. Great presenters encourage audience interaction and curate this dynamic to emphasise key points in the presentation without letting it derail their core message.


Your audience will feel as comfortable as you are. Therefore it is important to ensure you are as comfortable as possible with the material you are presenting and strive to maintain confidence in your own abilities to deliver the presentation. Practice makes perfect here so don’t get disheartened if it takes some time before you’re completely at ease delivering your message in a presentation format.

The best solutions are most often formed through the input of multiple people. In modern work environments, small team collaboration is an increasingly sought after skill by employers, as agile ways of working are adopted that bring together multiple disciplines around a unified challenge.

Your mentor will observe and assess your competency across a number of collaboration related skills including;


Effective collaboration with others is one of the primary skills hiring managers look for in new talent, particularly for digital roles where you are required to work closely with individuals from all different departments and skill sets. Collaboration is the make up of all your interactions with your teammates and stakeholders.

Teamwork & Leadership

There will be times during your Harness Projects where you will need to work as a team to synthesise research or support each other with feedback and advice. You may be called on to lead as the group recognises a specific skill set in you in relation to a task at hand. Your communication skills will be your foundation for success here, so take the opportunity to step into leadership roles and inspire confidence in yourself and others.

Conflict Resolution

Conflict, arguments and change are a natural part of our lives and often helps us learn more about differing beliefs, cultures and backgrounds. How we respond to these moments goes a long way to determining how quickly a group, organisation or culture can find a foundation of harmony to continue working / relating effectively, to the task at hand.

Initiative & Contribution

Showing initiative is doing things without being told; finding out what you need to know, continuing when things get tough, and spotting and taking advantage of the opportunities that others pass by. You act, instead of reacting, at work. Initiative has become increasingly important in today’s workplace. Organizations want employees who can think on their feet and take action without waiting for someone to tell them what to do. After all, this type of flexibility and courage is what pushes teams and organizations to innovate and to overcome competition.

Real-world projects can bring unexpected challenges and opportunities. Just like a real-world work environment, your capability for resourcefulness can go a long way to securing a successful career. Your mentor will guide you and assess you on your ability to demonstrate self-direction when required, problem solving and project management capabilities and your openness to learning from circumstances that arise. We focus on this to ensure that our graduates are equipped with the internal resourcefulness to excel in the workplace.

Your mentor will observe and assess your competency across a number of resourcefulness related skills including;


Self-direction is the ability to regulate and adapt your behavior to the demands of a situation in order to achieve one’s goals. Sometimes related to willpower, it describes the extent to which a person demonstrates integrated purposefulness rather than a disorganised set of reactive impulses. Throughout your project, there will be moments to receive guidance from others and moments to make the experience your own through self-directed learning. Ask questions and take actions that help to align your trajectory to the outcomes you have set for yourself during the project.

Problem Solving

Problems solving is at the centre of what many people do at work every day. Whether you’re solving a problem for a client (internal or external), supporting those who are solving problems, or discovering new problems to solve, the challenges you face can be large or small, simple or complex, and easy or difficult. Your project is a problem solving sandbox, with your project brief forming the overarching problem you are attempting to solve.
However, within that overarching problem are countless mini-problems that you will encounter on your journey.

Project Management

Project management skills are not simply reserved for those with the “Project Manager” title. In work, we all have a responsibility to apply effective project management skills to the work that we do. This includes managing our time, planning out the activities we intend to take to reach our goals and making the best use of the resources and support at hand. The earlier you can get into a project management mindset for your project the better it will go. Plan your time early and plan often. By staying on top of this during your projects, you will ensure a smooth run to the finish line instead of a heavy workload at the very end. This skill will serve you well in ensuring you maintain a work life balance in your career.


Learnability is being seen by some companies as the most sought-after attribute for both employees and job candidates, even up to senior executive levels. Learnability describes someone’s aptitude for learning, developing new skills and adopting novel ways of doing things. Those individuals who are highly proficient learners are seen as adaptable and
therefore able to keep pace with the dizzying level of technological and commercial change companies are currently coping with. Disruptive innovation doesn’t disrupt them – they figure it out, adapt and are rapidly productive in the new environment.

You will demonstrate empathy by listening to your end-users and stakeholders and appropriately translating their needs, motivations and pain points into your final recommendation solution. A number of important factors contribute your over empathy as a working professional. This includes compassion for your colleagues and customers, an openness to alternative ideas and ways of working, a curiosity to understand others on a deeper level and the social awareness to foresee the impacts of the work you contribute.

Your mentor will observe and assess your competency across a number of empathy related skills including;


When you sit in a room with your colleagues or your clients do you ever look for where there’s a pain in the room? And if you do notice, do you feel content enough to do something about it? Studies are finding these simple acts found in compassionate workplaces are helping to produce more productive, efficient and happier employees in organizations. Differing slightly from empathy which allows us to mirror someone else’s feelings, or altruism which is an action that benefits someone else, compassion is an
emotional response when perceiving suffering and involves an authentic desire to help. At Harness Projects, we strive to build a team culture of compassion. We’re all on this learning journey together and the more we can demonstrate moments of compassion for one another and all of our unique experiences during the project the stronger the bond we will form and the better the outcomes will be for everyone involved.


Openness is one of the big 5 personality traits. People who demonstrate high levels of openness tend to be linked to high levels of creative thinking, curiosity and flexibility. Openness includes a receptivity to new ideas as well as an attention to the inner feelings of others. These are traits that will support you well in the problem solving work you do.


Curiosity is a quality related to inquisitive thinking such as exploration, investigation, and learning. Curiosity as a behavior and emotion is considered the driving force behind not only human development, but developments in science, language, and industry. Every problem you encounter will ask for a level of curiosity from you. The more you can surrender to that curiosity and reserve assumptions or early judgement, the more space you will have to seek out novel and effective solutions to the design challenge at hand. Not only that, but a curiosity in how you develop during this learning program is a self-awareness trait that hiring managers will value highly.

Social Awareness

Having an awareness of the impact of your work is critically important to how you can contribute to the world we want to live in. You are in an extremely fortunate position to be part of an education program along with learning a skill that can help shape the experiences of millions of less fortunate people. The projects we curate at Harness Projects are all about applying all of your efforts to meaningful causes. It hopefully shows us what is possible and demonstrate that all of our efforts when combined contribute to the type of world we want to live in.

Agile behaviors consist of specific traits including self-reflection, resilience, creativity and a growth mindset. When brought together, these skills contribute to an individual who has the ability to stay agile in a changing work environment and a capacity to evolve to take advantage of opportunities for growth.

Your mentor will observe and assess your competency across a number of agile related skills including;


Self reflection is like looking into a mirror and describing what you see. It is a way of assessing yourself, your ways of working and how you learn. To put it simply ‘reflection’ means to think about something. Reflecting helps you to develop your skills and review their effectiveness, rather than just carry on doing things as you have always done them. It is about questioning, in a positive way, what you do and why you do it and then deciding whether there is a better, or more efficient, way of doing it in the future.


Resilience is the ability to cope with unexpected changes and challenges in your work and life. It’s not always possible to prevent stressful or adverse situations, but you can strengthen your capacity to deal with these challenges. You can start to build resilience by asking yourself; What can I do to get back on track? I can’t control everything, so what is in my control? Can I change something I’m doing to make things better? What can I learn from this? There are no guarantees that real world projects will be smooth sailing. You may need to nd inner courage and resilience to get through challenging moments in your project experience. This is a sandbox for your growth but remember to reach out for support when you need it.


Creativity is the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality. Creativity is characterised by the ability to perceive the world in new ways, to nd hidden patterns, to make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena, and to generate solutions. Creativity involves two processes: thinking, then producing. Your project-based learning experience will be a creative endeavor in forming your UX solution. There are ways to enhance your creativity, here are some starters; Seek out associations, that is connections between questions, problems or ideas from unrelated fields. Pose queries that challenge common wisdom. Scrutinize behavior of customers and competitors.

Growth Mindset

A growth mindset describes the underlying belief people have about learning and intelligence. When students believe they can get smarter, they understand that effort makes them stronger. Therefore they put in extra time and effort, and that leads to higher achievement. This is because they worry less about looking smart and they put more energy into learning. We all have triggers that bring us back to a fixed mindset. It may be when we face challenges or criticism. To remain in the ‘growth’ zone, we must identify and work with these triggers. Once we can identify the triggers, we can learn to talk back to it, persuading it to collaborate with us in pursuing our goals.

As a bonus
You'll also receive
We’ve partnered with leading companies in the UX industry to ensure you receive the most industry-relevant learning experience possible.
IDF Logo partners
12 months free access to Interaction Design Foundation
Access to Askable to support your user research

We've partnered with leading organisations in the UX industry to ensure you receive the most industry-relevant learning experience possible.


Hear Ranmalee’s Story

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Overall, I really enjoyed this learning experience. It was a highlight for me, considering the challenges of COVID-19. The live weekly classes, access to a mentor and employability scorecard report at the end were features that I found particularly valuable.

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Ranmalee Mendis

Project Manager | UX Graduate