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DISCOVERY / DESIGN / MOBILE APP / PROTOTYPING

My Needs App Prototype.

Hive IT worked with Thrive by Design on a discovery piece of work to develop a prototype app that helps children and young people on the autism spectrum communicate their needs with health and other services. As the project evolved, we discovered how the app could benefit a wider cohort of people and be used across a wider range of services.

Client
West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership
Who they are
WYHCP works with NHS organisations, councils, Healthwatch and the third sector to improve the health and wellbeing of local people.
What they do
Build relationships needed to deliver better health and care locally and across West Yorkshire so they can support people and improve lives.
Location
West Yorkshire
Requirements
Co-design a prototype app with Thrive by Design that could help children and young people on the autism spectrum express their needs when accessing health and other services.

Problem

People on the autism spectrum can come up against barriers to communication when accessing health and other services. The aim of the project was to discover how such barriers could be reduced by developing a prototype of an app centred around the needs of people on the autism spectrum.

Result

We successfully developed an app, ‘My Needs’ (a working title) which is currently ready for development. We also provided a report outlining our findings and recommendations from the discovery process along with user needs and preferences for key features.

“It was fantastic to collaborate with Hive IT on this project. We learnt such a lot together as a group through the co-design process and having Hive IT involved in conversations every step of the way ensured we were stretching our thinking in terms of what could be possible but also kept ourselves in check with what was technically feasible. A huge thank you to the whole team at Hive IT for thoughtful, creative and pragmatic input - with particular thanks to Allan who brought the groups' ideas to life in many rounds of prototype iteration and Lauren who made sure the whole process ran super smoothly.”
Kirstin Blackwell, Deputy Director for Inclusive Co-design, Thrive by Design

Collaboration with Thrive by Design

Thrive by Design are specialists in inclusive co-design and we had the pleasure of experiencing this through working in collaboration with their team on this project.

Constant communication with Thrive by Design ensured we could progress at a fast pace and we cemented a ‘one-team’ ethos very quickly, despite working completely remotely due to the project taking place during a government lockdown.

Facilitation of workshops was interchangeable and the plan for the project was continuously visible to everyone involved throughout.

One thing that we valued in particular throughout working with Thrive by Design was having debriefs following each of the co-design sessions. These covered what we had learned from the session and helped us solidify a plan for our next steps.

Codesign Workshops and Interviews

The main focus of the project involved conducting workshops and interviews with a range of participants who could benefit from the creation of an app. The aim of these sessions was to discover current frustrations when individuals express their communication needs with health and other services.

The co-design workshops enabled a great opportunity for participants to share their own ideas as to how an app could help to reduce existing issues. As a result, this helped us identify and understand the key needs of people on the autism spectrum when accessing health services.

In total 51 people were involved in remote workshops, interviews and user testing sessions and we received 82 survey responses throughout this project. These sessions were extremely insightful, involving a range of activities to capture a range of ideas and thoughts.

As well as specifically understanding the needs of people on the autism spectrum accessing health services, we came to understand how:

  • Such an app could help with a range of services, not limited to only health services
  • Such an app could help a range of people, not limited to those having autism spectrum conditions

A huge thanks goes out to everyone involved in our workshops

Prioritisation of functionality

Following the initial workshops and interviews, we had an internal sketching workshop with the full project team where we shared what we thought the key functions and features for the app could be.

From here, Allan, our designer, built a low-fidelity, black and white, non-branded prototype to help us understand, via user testing, what functionality the app would need without overwhelming potential users with unnecessary complexities.

What was great about conducting user testing on our prototypes throughout the full project was that we continually iterated following feedback. It also enabled the potential users of the app to take ownership of its development by contributing their ideas when interacting with the current version of the prototype. We then started to incorporate colour into the designs once we’d refined the functionality of the app.

Low-fidelity, black and white, non-branded sketch

Design of app prototype

During the initial workshops, a range of services and industries where an app could be useful were mentioned. For example, one person had never been to a salon before, but had mentioned how an app that served to communicate their needs could unlock the barriers to enable them to feel comfortable visiting a salon.

Therefore, we recruited individuals who represented the key sectors and industries mentioned throughout the initial workshops. By capturing their ideas and feedback, we introduced a range of features and tested the prototype upon a range of scenarios. The prototype went through many iterations with continuous feedback throughout and the final prototype was based upon a scenario involving a user visiting the dentist.

Image taken from a page of the final prototype

What's next?

Phase two of the project will involve developing a working minimal viable product (MVP) of the app - this means we will be using the app design we created in phase one, and collaborating with Thrive By Design again to create the first working version of the app.

We will start by building the features of the app that are most important in helping people to express their needs. From there we plan to support an initial group of users to use the app and look at how this works for them and the impact that it has on their interactions with services. During this phase we will also be exploring longer term development and the direction of the product as well as ensuring it is safe, compliant and sustainable.

We will continue to work in partnership with West Yorkshire Health and Care partnership and further co-design and test the app with people with living and learnt experience of autism. This is one of the core principles underpinning this work.

We really enjoyed working with Thrive By Design, our collaborative relationship was definitely a contributing factor to the success of the overall delivery of the project. This project provided another great opportunity for us to follow a user-centric design approach through the use of usability testing and periods of design iterations based on the feedback received from participants.

You can find our video showcasing the functionality of the My Needs app during the prototyping phase here: