Helping grieving people to support themselves through an app
Sue Ryder is a palliative, neurological and bereavement support charity based in the UK. Recently we worked with them to launch an online bereavement counselling service and upgrade their online community discussion platform.
The charity can now reach more people, nationally, when they need it most.
As their product strategy and development partner, we’ve been helping them adopt a culture of continuous user research and design so they can carry on improving their services.
Learning more through further research
We wanted to dig deeper into our audiences' needs and understand:
- The public’s perception of Sue Ryder
- How people experience bereavement
- How effectively do Sue Ryder’s digital services support people through grief and encourage adaptive behaviours?
As part of our research, we conducted a YouGov survey to reach as broad an audience as possible, spoke to key stakeholders at Sue Ryder and interviewed both potential and existing users of their digital services.
Fresh insights lead to opportunities
We learned that:
- People tend to look for help themselves before reaching out - they want to have information and tools at their fingertips so they can help themselves before, after or in between more professional support
- People feel most lost when by themselves, without the information or tools to navigate or process grief
- 76% valued ‘self-service therapy content’ as ‘something I could do in my own time (rather than needing to find a time that suits both me and someone else)’ - for example, in the middle of the night
- Bereavement support should be democratised to reach as wide an audience as possible
There’s a gap in the service offering
We then reviewed Sue Ryder’s existing offerings and user needs to refine the product vision and target audience.
By running a series of one-week design sprints, the Sue Ryder team was able to identify ‘how might we’ statements and address those needs with collaborative sketching, ideas and identifying key features.
We thought about the specific needs the service could meet, and how it would sit amongst Sue Ryder’s existing bereavement information and support.
User feedback influences design
We created a clickable prototype for testing key features such as journalling, allowing us to refine the design based on feedback from moderated user testing sessions. For example, some users felt that an empty journal edit page was intimidating, so we introduced journal ‘prompts’ to provide a more structured journaling experience.
From the initial research project, through to the development and delivery of the 'beta' version of this new service, Torchbox have shared our passion for finding new ways of providing support for people coping with grief and bereavement. With their focus on user research and feedback, we've created something that meets the needs of our audience and is a valuable expansion of our existing support offering.Eleanor Baggley, Digital Project Manager, Sue Ryder
Launching the app
The Grief Guide service includes bespoke articles, personal stories, videos and podcasts. The core content is freely available, with additional tools for registered users, such as the ability to bookmark content and create personal journal entries to enable users to process grief by putting their feelings into words.
The site is built as a Progressive Web App (PWA) and all the content is managed by Wagtail CMS. The PWA approach combines the best of web and mobile apps without the need for users to download or install anything so that there are minimal barriers to adoption.
The editorial content is regularly updated by the digital team at Sue Ryder. As first-time users of Wagtail CMS, Sue Ryder found Wagtail easy to use.
After a really useful demo from the Torchbox team, I found Wagtail CMS to be a perfect fit for our site. It's intuitive, dynamic and actually made me look forward to the hours of content population ahead of me! The seamless movement between elements and pages makes things so easy, and I'm looking forward to seeing what new features are introduced.Priya Gandhi, Digital Content Manager, Sue Ryder
Future plans include expanding the self-help ‘toolbox’ with features to help users recognise their moods and emotions, and a diary study to gather a deeper understanding of how users interact with the Grief Guide app as part of their daily lives and their ongoing bereavement journey.
Insights gathered through these activities will help inform the continuing improvement of the Grief Guide, as well as the wider Bereavement Services strategy at Sue Ryder.
- Expanded the breadth of Sue Ryder’s grief and bereavement support offering for users who may not want (or be ready for) online counselling or to join a discussion group
- Enabled people to help themselves before reaching out for further support
- Supported Sue Ryder in democratising bereavement support and reaching as wide an audience as possible
- Helped Sue Ryder adopt a culture of continuous research and discovery
- Supporting the delivery of a multi-year product strategy and roadmap
The team at Torchbox very much felt like an extension of our own and felt equally as invested in creating a product that can truly make a difference.Eleanor Baggley, Digital Project Manager, Sue Ryder
Find ways to improve your service with a roadmapping session
If you're struggling to overcome challenges such as prioritising work, showing progress to stakeholders or managing multiple projects in parallel, our Product Directors can facilitate a roadmapping session with you and your team. It would be over four hours and you’ll leave armed with a prioritised roadmap for your strategy or portfolio.
If you’re interested in finding out more, pop your details here, and we can arrange a no-strings initial exploratory call.