A custom application we designed and developed with the ORCAS team –
integrating their suite of self-management tools.
We built in support for video chat, in-app messaging,
public Q&A, webinars, file sharing, health assessments, and more.
The app has been used internally by the US Coast Guard, US Military,
and National Institutes ofHealth.
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
What We Did
Research & Concepting
Languages & Tools
Django & Python
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 internalteam.
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 emotionalwell-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 effectiveways.
Planning & DiscoveryPhase
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 uniquelyuseful.
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 eachpersona.
Each user story defined one task that a specific user
might want to accomplish on CoachHub.
(As a Client, I want to schedule an appointment.)
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 andscope.
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:
“A CLIENTPROFILE contains all the public information
about a CLIENT, for use in Q&A forums, messaging, etc.”
The resulting document also acts as a glossary of terms,
to help the entire team communicate consistently
and write code that integratessmoothly.
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 goingnext?
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 thesite.
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 livedata.
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, andhopeful.
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 theleaves.
Responsive & Interactive UXDesign
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 moneywaste.
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 andpartners.
Accessibility is built into the core technologies and techniques we use
mobile-responsive CSS styles. We make it a priority from the beginning
of each project – using progressive enhancement and responsive design to
support a broad range of users, devices, and browsers. For CoachHub we
also used Lea Verou’s Contrast Ratio tool to select colors for text
that passed WCAGAA level at all sizes. We also built a WCAG contrast
test into our Sass Accoutrementtoolkits.
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 differentusers.
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
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