Where We Started
The BC Government and Doctors of BC formed local teams to assess and develop responses to mental health needs in rural and remote areas of BC. Seeing our work with the City of North Vancouver on NSYouth, the team for Pemberton and surrounding areas approached us to build a similar mobile-focussed directory.
Early discussions made clear the need to evolve our original design to fit the challenges of service delivery to rural youth. Moreover, to get real adoption the directory could’t feel like a hand-me-down from the city; it had to feel like it belonged to the area and its youth.
What We Did
Visits with youth and front-line workers built an understanding of daily life and barriers to connecting with services. We designed several advanced features to address situational needs such as poor connectivity, service recall, and privacy.
Lacking a large promotional budget, it was important to make the app stand out and stick with a combination of unique features and visual design. We also created a motion-based mini-game meant to encourage repeat visits outside of crisis moments with a goal of making the directory a familiar and memorable space. If that worked, youth will have a better chance of knowing where to turn if a crisis hits.
During the beta phase, a testing day was organized with 20+ students from across the entire area and age groups to validate the usability and desirability of the design, and to tease out remaining issues on the actual phones where the directory needs to work.
The PLAN-Y brand is truly of the area, featuring the distinctive edge of its most famous landmark, Mount Currie. The vibrant colours are drawn from both local First Nations and Settler art by youth, and the natural environment. Bridging the various communities was a priority in the brand, and the PLAN-Y name itself is an acronym of Pemberton, Lil’Wat Nation and Lower Lakes, Area C, and N’Quatqua for Youth, and includes the major areas and communities in the service area.
While the basics of the PLAN-Y directory are the same as NSYouth - a searchable and filterable list of services - new features such as offline storage, personal list creation and sharing, and a more active interface, resulted in a tool tailored to the real circumstances of youth in rural BC.
With a strong, recognizable brand and a suite of features that go well beyond a simple list of services, the PLAN-Y directory is well positioned to help youth living in remote communities understand that despite the distance, help is within reach.
Try it: plan-y.ca.
Creative design and development for apps & websites.
Branding and initial online presence for emerging products.
- Accelerometer sensor
Photo by Steward Marshall
We can do this for you
Putting the time and effort into understanding local context makes all the difference in connecting with a hard-to-reach audience. If you’ve been trying to do just that, let’s talk about how we can help.