Megaphone Magazine

, Vancouver's street newspaper, provides economic opportunities to homeless lower-income people. Inspired by their work, we built a mobile website to expand readership and boost their profile.

Where We Started

Megaphone Magazine, a Vancouver-based street newspaper, came to us with questions about whether mobile technology could help readers find out where its vendors were located, and when to find them.

What We Did

After an extensive research phase, we designed a mobile-focussed website that works as an in-the-moment locator. Additionally, the app can create instant, personalized lists highlighting Megaphone vendor spots in parts of the city where readers work, live, and hang out.

We could have gone in different directions, particularly in bringing more of the magazine content into the app. But we felt that would take away from the key value of Megaphone, which is connecting people to the vendors who are helping themselves out of low-income situations. For each vendor, Megaphone helped us get a great photo and quotes describing their location. The combination of photos and descriptions help people recognize vendors when they’re out and about.

On the back-end, we hooked up the app to a Google Docs spreadsheet, where Megaphone staff can manage the vendor list in a familiar tool, with no need for us to make changes.

The Results

Coordinated with an extensive media push, the Vendor Finder has been well-received and sees regular use by both new and returning visitors. New readers have shared positive results on Twitter about connecting with vendors in their neighbourhoods, and a local university class used the Vendor Finder in a focus study on how technology design interacts with varying socio-economic classes.

A quote from Megaphone’s Executive Director, Sean Condon, was particularly gratifying:

It was such a pleasure working with you all and to see how much attention and care you put into this. I know this will be a tool that we’ll be able to use for some time to help support our vendors and really help our people from all income backgrounds connect with each other. - Sean Condon, Megaphone Executive Director

Visit the Megaphone Vendor Finder, best used on a modern smartphone.

Services Used

Collaborators

Technology

Project Snapshots

A list of vendors generated from map selections.

As part of our research, we set out to find Sid, a Megaphone vendor. From the photos below, you can see that spotting a vendor even from across the street is difficult. This finding prompted us to include location descriptions by vendors, who describe their spots in relation to landmarks as well as cross-streets.

Vendor details in action.