"I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again." — F. Scott Fitzgerald
☀︎☀︎☀︎
Currently reading: Bewilderment // Made for Love // 101 Essays That Will Change Your Life
☀︎☀︎☀︎
Raleigh, NC
☀︎☀︎☀︎
"I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again." — F. Scott Fitzgerald
☀︎☀︎☀︎
Currently reading: Bewilderment // Made for Love // 101 Essays That Will Change Your Life
☀︎☀︎☀︎
Raleigh, NC
☀︎☀︎☀︎
The Trevor Project —

A design vision sprint for the counselor experience

*Content Warning: Suicidal Conversations, Bullying*
Background
Counselors are at the backbone of the care The Trevor Project provides. It's obvious that as UX Designers we are to make experiences as user-friendly and intuitive as possible. It's even more critical to do so for our counselors as they are talking with folks in crisis—many of their interactions can quite literally be the difference between life or death. Up to this point, though, the counselor experience hadn't been examined with a Design Thinking mindset.

Since the UX Team at Trevor was fairly new (and small—just one Researcher and myself), we decided to run a five-day design "vision" sprint with 24 people from across the organization—leaders, knowledge experts, and, of course, some of our counselors (both volunteer & staff)—to better understand the current counselor experience, brainstorm improvements, develop Design Principles, and align on a shared vision for the future of this important experience.
My roles
+ Facilitator
+ UX Research
+ UX Design
+ UI Design
Final outcome of the vision sprint

A sneak peek of the final designs

Day one
The first day started off with introductions and an ice breaker before diving in to hear from some knowledge experts, setting the stage and giving us background on what the current counselor experience looks like. Then we jumped into our tool, LucidSpark, and I helped everyone get up to speed as we'd be using that tool the rest of the week.

After this, I led a workshop on coming up with design principles. These four-five principles that we'd come up with as a group would help guide our ideas and conversations for the rest of the week. I had a large word bank of words and broke folks up into smaller groups to come up with 5-10 words that they felt should represent the counselor experience. Each group then presented, creating lots of open discussions as people agreed, disagreed, or felt certain words should be used to combine others. We then grouped similar words and ended for the day.

I then spent the afternoon crafting a first draft of design principles based on our discussions and groupings to share in the morning of Day Two.
Screenshot of one of the old supervisor dashboards

Similar principles grouped together (left) and the final design principles (right)
(Quality of images is purposefully bad so as not to reveal too much information)

Days two, three,
and four
To begin day two, we discussed and finalized our design principles from the day before. We landed on:

1. Seamless: Craft connected and frictionless experiences by removing obstacles.

2. Accessible: Prioritize inclusivity in support of various abilities, experiences, and preferences.

3. Trustworthy: Demonstrate clarity, compassion, and consistency for reliable interactions.

4. Adaptive:
Create intuitive, flexible, and dynamic systems that deliver the right information at the right time.

5. Empowering: Provide tools and resources to counselors that promote wellbeing, growth, and confident decision making.

We then spent the rest of our time hearing from more Knowledge Experts, this time writing down How Might We's (HMW) as they spoke. We asked the group to think in terms of these HMW's rather than jumping to solutions. If they heard something from the presentation that seemed difficult or confusing, ask how might we solve that issue. For example, if someone noted that volunteer counselors often feel isolated and disconnected from other counselors, one could ask, "How might we provide inclusive and accessible ways for volunteers to connect with each other?"

Day three consisted of more HMW's, but specified for each stage of the counselor on-shift experience. Everything from signing-on to taking their first chat of the shift to getting help from a supervisor.
How Might We post-it notes from Day 2

HMW's after hearing more presentations from Knowledge Experts

Grouped How Might We's

Grouping HMW's by points in the counselor journey

The second half of day three and the majority of day four was spent doing what many of the participants were most excited about — brainstorming ideas and solutions based on the HMW's we created. We asked folks to remember the design principles we had agreed upon when thinking of ideas.

We then went around and had people share some of their favorite ideas, grouping similar ones as we went along. At the end of that day, the team and I created buckets of similar ideas into specific themes. This would be helpful for the final day of the sprint.
Brainstorming Ideas

Brainstorming ideas based on our design principles

Grouped ideas

Grouping the ideas into buckets and themes

Day five
To conclude the week, I began the day with an activity I called, "Inspiration Station." Each participant. had an area on the board to add some of their favorite examples of delightful UX. We posted screenshots and explained what we liked about a certain app's experience or a feature it provided.

From there, we went into our last big exercise — sketching. We had people pick a bucket/theme from above and sketch out what a possible solution might look like. This was helpful to translate ideas from words to something more visual. This way, as the only designer at this organization, I could take these ideas as inspiration when thinking through the actual design process.

Finally we wrapped up the day by letting folks know what would be coming next. I would go into design mode, creating screens based off of the problems we identified and the possible solutions we came up with. As a group, we would meet again to go over the designs and begin roadmapping these new features so we could make this vision a reality over the next few years.
Inspiration Station

Inspiration Station

Sketching

Sketching ideas in a "Trading Card" format

The design process
The very next week, I jumped into design mode. I took all of the ideas from the previous week and began mocking up designs for a new Counselor Dashboard (one of the big ideas that came from the sprint) and the On-Shift Chat Experience. I started with low fidelity mock ups to get buy-in from our selected stakeholders, eventually progressing to high fidelity.

Here are some of the main features I wanted to highlight in these designs:

1. A new counselor dashboard

2. Utilizing AI to create smart "nudges" for important time-related protocols (starting the Risk Assessment portion of the case record, taking a second chat, searching for resources, etc).

3. Communication with supervisors and other counselors in one place (currently they bounce between Salesforce and two different Slack instances)
First pass of the dashboard

First pass at a new counselor dashboard

First pass of the in-chat experience

First pass at counselor beginning a new chat

Inspiration Station

Using AI to fill in a contacts name in the Case Record based on their message

Sketching

Based on the time passed, nudging the counselor to being the Risk Assessment

Inspiration Station

Nudging a counselor to transfer the other call if one has been categorized as High Risk, which is a part of the protocols in place

Sketching

Using AI to suggest a resource to share with a contact based on the conversation

Embedding a resource

If the counselor decides to use the suggested resource, they could quickly add it to their message

Final stages
After feedback from these initial designs, I went in and to polish the designs with more care, using actual components from the new design system (oh yeah, I led the charge on creating a brand new design system while all of this was going on... 😅). You can see a couple of those screens below.

From there, the other vision sprint leaders and I presented these designs, as well as a "next steps" or roadmap on how we will get there. Overall, the entire group that participated seemed extremely excited seeing all of their hard work and ideation culminate into these visuals. It's going to take a long time before we get to this "ideal state" but we're already working on implementing some of these features in smaller batches.
Embedding a resource

A look at the final design showcasing what it looks like when talking to the top contact

Final Design 2

A look at the final design showcasing what it looks like when talking to the middle contact

"I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again." — F. Scott Fitzgerald
☀︎☀︎☀︎
Currently reading: Bewilderment // Made for Love // 101 Essays That Will Change Your Life
☀︎☀︎☀︎
Raleigh, NC
☀︎☀︎☀︎
"I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again." — F. Scott Fitzgerald
☀︎☀︎☀︎
Currently reading: Bewilderment // Made for Love // 101 Essays That Will Change Your Life
☀︎☀︎☀︎
Raleigh, NC
☀︎☀︎☀︎