Designing a Progressive Web App for online self-help psychological support intervention

UX Design with Elise West Design

Project Title: Step-by-step
End Client: World Health Organization
Step-by-Step is an Online self-help psychological support intervention for depression and anxiety.

It provides psychoeducation and training in behavioural activation through an illustrated narrative with additional therapeutic techniques such as stress management (slow breathing), identifying strengths, positive self-talk, increasing social support and relapse prevention.

What's the current situation?

Step-by-Step is currently a five-week program that has collated evidence through a Randomized Controlled Trial with adults and youth. The current app has been fit for purpose for the Randomized Controlled Trial to collate evidence for a helper guided intervention in one adapted region.

For Step-by-Step to be useful on a global scale, a new app needs to be built that is more engaging, scalable and adaptable.

Parts of the discovery session deck used as a source of truth and to onboard newcomers to the project
How may we design an exemplar globalized product that countries want to adapt to their own digital health systems?

Problems with the current app
  • Navigation unclear
  • No hierarchy across the different screens
  • Instructions are lacking and vague
  • Does not pass UX heuristics
  • Chat-style format of sessions are misleading

A quick brainstorm session on how the illustrations can be globally adaptable

The relationship between UX, content and illlustrations

One of the main obstacles in these early sprints are around the illustration and content approach. While the WHO have found that behavioural activation through an illustrated narrative has been successful in providing unguided self-help for depression, there was no consensus on whether a single, first person point of view would be more beneficial than a group story.

"The goal isn't to create something that fits everyone, but rather that the material is easily adaptable by member states."

*We are currently in the process of preparing for user interviews, surveys and usability tests to gather feedback on the content, illustration, approach and high level flow.

Follow up discovery sessions aimed at understanding the end-users

Designing for depression and stigma

One of the most interesting and challenging aspect of this project is the end user. Not only do we have to consider a large range of age, culture and environments, we had to consider that in many of the target pilot countries, there might be little to no access (or desire) for psychological help. 

Part of the screenflow done in pair with Mike (Senior Product Designer)

The power of pair work

As this app is quite complex and was initially designed based on clinical studies, Mike and I decided to pair to tackle the user journey, sitemap and screen flows. Pairing work is especially helpful in the early stages and we managed to cut the production time by an estimated 25% compared to if we were to work on it individually.

Initial prototype done to explore and validate the screen flow

*This project is currently still in progress.

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