Although there is vibrance in queer spaces, there is also hurt. Youth in the LGBTQ+ community has historically faced numerous mental health disparities due to stigma, lack of education, and systemic oppression.
in the United States have felt either sad or hopeless (CDC 2019)
have considered suicide (CDC 2019)
have misused prescription drugs (CDC 2019)
The Community Health Access Initiative (CHAI) is a coalition of community organizations, youth, and academic partners offering a free training and technical assistance program to improve the health and well-being of LGBTQ+ youth in Michigan. CHAI is focused on improving mental health and substance use outcomes among LGBTQ+ youth by increasing access to inclusive and affirming health care.
CHAI previously had a website to house tailored health care resources to help achieve their mission, but the disorganization of resources and accessibility errors (lack of color contrast, alternative text, and keyboard navigation) leaves it unusable. LGBTQ+ youth in Michigan are the primary users, and health care providers are secondary users.
Question – How might we better communicate health care resources and trainings with a website by leveraging community partnerships?
The research highlighted the following opportunities
Because CHAI is a hub of many LGBTQ+ resources.
According to the competitive analysis, prominent websites aiding LGBTQ+ youth have a single landing page illustrating their mission and variety of services
When discussing the old website, individuals of the action committee in their interviews expressed that the purpose of the CHAI website is to empower the community by sharing LGBTQ+ resources with youth and providers. The website should be a hub for people to learn more about the initiative.
Because LGBTQ+ youth are browsing resources with limited time.
According to the competitive analysis, prominent websites aiding LGBTQ+ youth have multiple pathways for users to access the same information within a website
When discussing the old website, individuals of the action committee in their interviews expressed that the website should implement more elements for discoverability
Focus groups indicated that resource organization looks like lists and search functions.
Because a website like CHAI has multiple audiences.
According to the competitive analysis, prominent websites aiding LGBTQ+ youth have resources can be general for all users or tailored for specific audiences (e.g. providers, youth, parents, etc.)
Because LGBTQ+ youth prefer visual organization.
When discussing the old website, individuals of the action committee in their interviews expressed that information on the website should rely on spacing and images to convey information rather than words.
Focus groups also indicated that resource organization looks like visual categorization.
I mapped the information architecture of the website and sketched lo-fi wireframes.
To make a robust website, I designed the mobile version before moving onto the desktop version to ensure responsiveness. After receiving feedback from CHAI and the research team, I created a high-fidelity prototype to test with the action committee. One key performance indicator included task completion for (1) successfully find specific health care resources and (2) find mental health provider training that is only available to providers.
During user testing, critical feedback emerged. Though it might seem purely aesthetic, it’s a safety issue:
“If I was like, in the closet, and I was trying to look up resources on CHAI, but my family was over my shoulder, this kind of like, brings a lot of attention to that. So maybe having like, an incognito mode for CHAI or like, trying to reverse the colors.” - Action Committee member
Hypothesis – visual affordances of the website should center on functionality.
Using user feedback, I moved forward with a final product with the CHAI team.
A comprehensive landing page
Quickly educate first-time users within seconds and reveal what CHAI offers
Filters and search function
LGBTQ+ youth can pinpoint resources relevant to them without wasting time looking at the ones that aren’t
Multiple pages for multiple audiences
Separate provider and youth content for a more curated experience for different audiences
LGBTQ+ youth can safely browse the website without worrying that light emitted from a bright screen will attract attention.
This screen also displays the website's responsive. The website is designed for multiple screen sizes and devices.
The CHAI website was deployed. Key performance indicators to track a success included:
to validate reduced friction within the website and the effectiveness among LGBTQ+ youth looking for healthcare resources
to test the website's usefulness in addressing CHAI's goal of increased awareness of their resources for LGBTQ+ youth
If I had more time, here is what I wished I could have done.
Here were some final outcomes
1 expert interview
conducted to understand what it means to be a sustainable creative small business and what experts hypothesize as to the largest competency barriers for operations and finances
with creative small businesses to gain a deeper empathy on what it means to be a creative small business and what are the end goals, investigate the workflow of a creative small business from conceptualizing to executing product sales
analyzed to identify what market gaps exist in existing tools for young people with creative small businesses
observed to get a wider sample of data to further investigate our findings from a relatively small sample size of user interviews.