Digital Storytelling to Make Health Research Accessible
Transforming traditional research publication into a digital storytelling experience
Our team recently completed a digital storytelling project with Hopelab, helping share their recent research: Digital Health Practices, Social Media Use, and Mental Well-Being Among Teens and Young Adults in the U.S.
Hopelab is a San Francisco-based social innovation lab focused on designing science-based technologies to improve the health and well-being of teens and young adults. This cutting-edge organization brings together evidence-based research, intentional design, and strategic partnerships in order to support a new generation of healthy, thriving young adults. From the development of Goal Mama, an app and companion nurse dashboard co-designed with moms and nurses to help set goals, track progress, and celebrate success, to the launch of Vivibot, a story-sharing chatbot for cancer survivors that teaches evidence-based positive psychology skills, Hopelab works tirelessly on projects that matter.
Mental illness is often silenced within larger conversations about health. While it is still largely socially taboo to have honest conversations about mental health—at home, in the workplace, or in the political arena—the everyday life of those experiencing mental illness can be overwhelmingly lonely. Many teens and young adults experiencing depression often turn to social media to connect with others.
In an effort to understand the ways in which teens and young adults experiencing depression use social media, Hopelab, in partnership with Well Being Trust, sponsored their first independent national survey. Once it was ready, Hopelab faced a time-sensitive challenge: translating the report into an easily readable format in order to reach as many people as possible. In the spring of 2018, we partnered with Hopelab and their design partner, Landscape, to transform the report from a traditional, printed survey to an easy-to-read digital experience.
Six weeks to launch a digital experience is challenging, but we were confident that our agile approach would allow us to meet Hopelab’s needs with functionality, reliability, and creativity. While traditional software development entails minimal flexibility and focuses on end-of-the-line results, we value lean, iterative product growth. After prioritizing “first things first,” we implemented small, calculated enhancements to incrementally move the product forward. This approach also allowed the the Hopelab team to quickly add content and test the report, while we continued developing new features.
As a result, we created:
- A user-friendly, easy-to-navigate interface that transforms empirical data into a story
- Technical innovations focused on improved organization and user readability
- A template to replicate this publication format for Hopelab’s future research reports
This sort of agile development was exactly what we needed to hit our deadline. I’m really proud of the work we accomplished together.– Robin Raskob, Senior Manager, Marketing & Communications at Hopelab
Hopelab’s cutting-edge research has gained mobility—transcending the academic community—and reaching those invested in the well-being of teens and young adults. Since the launch of their digital health report, Hopelab’s website traffic has increased 260%. They’ve gained momentum in social media engagement as well, with spikes in mentions, follows, and likes after the report went live. In the future, Hopelab can use this updated format as a working template for communicating innovative research.
Hopelab’s study emphasizes the power of social media to both uplift and tear down the mental health of teens and young adults. By understanding the complex effects of social media, stakeholders can more effectively and empathetically come together to change how we engage with each other online. As more academic research is communicated to the wider health community, knowledge is spread in ways that give power back to those most affected.
"We had a tight timeline combined with an ambitious design and I honestly wasn’t quite sure we could pull it off. My fears were alleviated quite early on; Exygy came up with a plan that included site development in tandem with content entry and design review along the way. There’s really no one I’d rather work with on a project like this.”– Robin Raskob, Senior Manager, Marketing & Communications at Hopelab