CoachHub, a responsive coaching web-platform we built with ORCAS, integrates with their suite of self-management tools to provide users with anywhere, anytime access to varying levels of support – video chat, in-app messaging, public Q&A, webinars, and support groups. Users browse coaches, send messages, request appointments, post questions, and grant permissions for coaches to view their progress. Coaches create a profile, manage daily tasks, make appointments, post answers to questions, view user progress, and set alerts for relapse prevention and escalation of care.
The product is currently being used by the US Military and Coast Guard for internal health coaching.
OddBird really changed my thinking about how successful remote development can be. We were able to hire them as a complete team, ready to start adding value immediately, working as closely as an internal team.
Since OddBird thinks about handoff from the beginning, maintenance has been super easy. For example, 100% unit test coverage was a given. I never had to ask for it.
Deep expertise and knowledge, combined with incredible communication and an easy-going style.
What They Needed
ORCAS partnered with OddBird to build a custom, responsive web application – a hub to connect clients with health coaches for easy access to personalized wellness guidance and support. The new software needed to fit with ORCAS’s existing suite of apps, especially MoodHacker, a tool for self-management of emotional well-being.
Studies show that telephonic health coaching can be effective, but ORCAS identified several barriers keeping clients from getting the right level of support when they need it. In designing the CoachHub web app, we aimed to create an inviting space for clients and coaches to quickly and easily access one another in dynamic and effective ways.
For an in-depth understanding of the CoachHub project and its place in the market, we created an App Goals document with ORCAS. We defined core problems coaches and clients face day-to-day, how our software might address these problems, and what features would make CoachHub uniquely useful.
Together, we identified three distinct users – health coaches, individual clients, and business partners who might purchase CoachHub for an employee benefits package – and detailed the significantly different motivations and needs of each persona.
Each user story defined one task that a specific user might want to accomplish on CoachHub. <em>(“As a Client, I want to schedule an appointment.”)</em> Using <a href=”http://www.pivotaltracker.com/”>Pivotal Tracker</a>, we listed each user story and provided itemized story estimates. This allowed ORCAS to add, prioritize, and remove stories before we began development and throughout the project – remaining up-to-date and in control of the project cost and scope.
The data model provides a sense of backend database structure and object-relationships, built around conversations with the entire team to determine not just what is included but how users will interact with the available models: <em>
“A <strong>Client Profile</strong> contains all the public information about a CLIENT, for use in Q&A forums, messaging, etc.”
</em> The resulting document also acts as a glossary of terms, to help the entire team communicate consistently and write code that integrates smoothly.
Design and Development Phase
Site Architecture & Information Design
We created an interactive web of static-HTML content templates – a living draft of the site architecture, with samples of real content. For each step in the flow we asked: how did the user get here, what do they need to achieve, and where are they going next?
As we interacted with this visualization, it became clear, for example, that we needed to replace the browse-coaches page and the my-coaches page with an ever-present sidebar, providing one-click access to coaches. Several pages stood out as important starting-points for users, and those pages moved into the site navigation. We also added a dashboard to give a quick overview of activity on the site.
Before developing any real functionality, we already had a live, interactive, and testable prototype of the information architecture and user-experience flows. Building features would be a matter of replacing static content with live data.
We worked with ORCAS to pinpoint the attitude and associations they wanted the CoachHub brand to evoke, and created a friendly, distinct brand identity. Like their existing apps – MoodHacker and BlipHub – the CoachHub logo and overall brand are bright, cheerful, and hopeful.
We then created hundreds of unique avatar designs from just a few unique leaf graphics dynamically rendered using light and dark contrasts of our colors and rotation of the leaves.
Responsive & Interactive UX Design
User experience design guides feature development. Working feature-by-feature, we created rough sketches of each feature to get a sense of the components and layout. With approved sketches, we moved on to detailed designs and live implementation. As time went on patterns developed, and features began moving directly from sketch to code, allowing us to move quickly and efficiently. Integrating design and implementation helped us minimize time and money waste.
Usability testing guided us in prioritizing feature development and adjusting UX design along the way, ensuring that CoachHub would be useful and relevant to users and partners.
In conversation with ORCAS’s internal team, we designed graphics, recommended and edited text, and identified important “call to action” steps to create a relevant and compelling landing pages for different users.
CoachHub launched with a minimum viable set of features, and room to grow. We continue to work periodically with ORCAS’s internal development team, consulting on the design and flow of new features as CoachHub expands to accommodate the needs of their growing user-base – people who use it every day to improve their health and wellness, or as part of their work coaching others.