The last month has been a big one for MindMate. We’ve launched a newly designed site, developed two brilliant new games, and created a whole new content-rich section, not to mentioned picked up two nominations for the Dadi Awards. Not bad.
Today we’ll hear from our Digital team on why we decided to overhaul the site a year after launch and how a new flexible approach to development has future proofed the site.
MindMate, and why it’s brilliant
For those who haven’t had the pleasure of visiting MindMate, may I suggest you hop over there right now. For those too lazy, allow me to explain: MindMate.org.uk is a site for children and young people in Leeds who need help and direction with emotional wellbeing and mental health concerns. You can read more about how we created the name, identity and platform here.
MindMate soft launched in June 2015 and so far has achieved brilliant success and huge praise. But our wonderful client NHS Leeds South and East CCG understood from the off that a website that sits still would never cut it, especially with the ultimate digital native audience of 12-19 year olds. And, naturally, we’re with them all the way on that.
Why redesign after 12 months?
With all the best briefs in the world, perfectly predicting the future for a brand new venture is tricky. Even trickier is predicting the future of a site that is continually reviewed by panels of young people, parents and professionals; change, development and growth is inevitable. Our Digital Design Director Chris Skelton comments: “The original site has served us very well over the past year and I’m still really proud of what we did with it. However, nobody predicted that MindMate would snowball at the rate that it has, especially with regards to the variety of content that we’re generating.
Whilst planning content for the next 6 months we began to spot signs of the site architecture not quite having the flexibility that we needed and decided that a restructure was necessary. As creatives working in an agile environment (sorry), we’re always pushing for everything to be better, so, along with improving the architecture, we also took the opportunity to design a new set of flexible templates that could easily keep up with the rate of development.”
How is the new site better than the last?
From the user’s point of view, the site retains all the fun and levity of the previous site that the children and young people told us they loved, but the key change is its improved scalability and the aforementioned structure. The new navigation makes light work of the new content that’s been added, too, so it’s quick and easy to find your way around.
Modular design to maximise budgets
As well as creating a site that’s attractive and easy to use, it was important to be responsible with budgets. One of the key aspects of our brief was that the client, NHS South and East Leeds CCG, should be able to grow the site as they need to without relying on external help from the likes of us, to keep spend down as much as possible. In Chris’ words:
“We’ve introduced a much more modular design system, which allows us to have a greater degree of flexibility when generating new pages and allows the team at the NHS to have a level of control over the design without our input. This system also allows us to develop new modules in isolation and introduce them as new content types are developed, without the need to design and develop entire new templates from scratch. This not only allows us to make more incremental updates, but it also speeds up the development process in order to maximise the value to the NHS.”
Digital Designer Jake Greenwood led on the build of the site with help from his trusty sidekick Jamie Moore, with their build method demonstrating beautifully the benefit of content-led design. Jake commented: “Building the site in a totally modular way removes a lot of the restrictions that come with having a more traditional rigid page template system. This means we can design the content for the user rather than to fit within a fixed system, resulting in a far better user experience.”
New games and content
To truly help its users, it’s vital that MindMate is both informative and engaging. To enable this, over time we are adding to the wealth of information and interactive content to the site. The most recent developments include the creation of a whole new content-rich area for young people, all about keeping your mind and body healthy. We’re always looking for ways that young people can help themselves, as well as directing them to the right place if they don’t know what else to do, so following some research into simple methods for keeping your mind in good shape we highlighted various topics as having a lot of potential in terms of not only engaging our existing users, but also attracting new ones. These topics are a little less serious-sounding than some of our current issues, but it’s all still integral to maintaining your emotional wellbeing.
Our role was that of all encompassing content creators, from research, writing, design and implementation. By taking advantage of modern browser capabilities, we’ve been able to create more engaging content that transforms what could quite easily feel like boring article for adults into an exciting learning experience for young people.
In addition to this we launched two new interactive tools/games, with a third on its way soon. The concepts and design came about through workshops with young people, and the development of the games involved the young people all the way through. More of that coming soon, but for now why not have a go at creating your very own MindMate? Or use our simple tool to find the MindMates in your life.
Last but not least, we’re also really pleased to be up for two awards at this year’s Dadis (The Drum Awards for the Digital Industries), in Best Website (Visual Design) and Best Public Sector Website. We need to wait until October to find out how we’ve done, so keep your fingers crossed for us until then.
For more information on MindMate, check out our video here.