The DCCSDS quickly realised that young people in care, like others, relied heavily on smartphones for their connection to support networks, information and the greater community. Initiatives like the Transition to Independence Program (what is this?) were directed to seek digital solutions to keep pace with this behaviour. With Telstra supplying the hardware, the Create Foundation worked with Klyp to deliver Sortli, a mobile application (App Store, Google Play, Windows Store) aimed at solving the quintessential teenage problem – Is there a manual to becoming an adult?
Sortli focused on seven key areas:
- Exploring identity
- Managing relationships
- Finding a place to live
- Keeping healthy
- Setting financial goals
- Living Skills
The Create Foundation had an extensive library of resources and while the knowledge was relevant, its presentation and method of delivery no longer engaged its audience. The digital transformation of learning had left the classroom notion of workbooks behind.
The project always going to be an app. The real questions were what does it need to do and how will it work. In this case:
- Become the planning tool for young people to develop life skills
- Track progress
- Be the first point of contact for more information
- Link to services and contacts
- E.g. Can this app help a young person obtain their driver's licence?
A modest budget was provided, a seat-of-our-pants timeline imposed, and a project team assembled:
- DCCSDS: Director (Place Services and Support, SE Region), Senior Practitioner (South Burnett Child Safety Service Centre, Central Queensland Region), Principle Program Officer (Client Services), Manger (Communications Team), Program Manager (Mobility Projects), Business Analyst (Mobility Projects)
- Create Foundation: Representative, Young person in care
- Partnership: Telstra Business Development Executive
- Agency: Managing Director, Creative Lead (me)
Even though we were pressed for time, our collective experience realised that we could only succeed by accurately defining the project scope and feature list, validating the concept with actual users, and ensuring the technical specifications translated to an achievable build.
An early engagement idea geared towards the concept of completing quests to upgrade a personalised base raised concerns over the amount of asset variation, theme resonance and the tuning of engagement curves. However, through a workshop with thirty-odd young people from different demographics, the feedback for a more pragmatic and less child-like approach led to a conceptual pivot.
Gamified aspects were later incorporated more effectively through goal-setting and success reinforcement.
The app's user flow, wireframing and visual look were tackled concurrently in an effort to juggle multiple discussions with the various approval teams. The first concept was an intentional mishmash of messaging and design to spark conversation.
Where many app and services fail is in the user onboarding, or lack thereof. The design around the first-time interaction is critical for success and repeat usage – a user needs to be given the reason (why am I here) and knowledge (how do I get value) to use the app in as few interactions as possible. Additional attention was given to this user journey, while concurrently the overall user flow was re-mapped.
Naming and Branding
As part of the workshop insights, the working title – T2I or The Transition to Independence App – required a less government affiliated name to increase the chance of engagement. Though beyond the original scope, it was becoming clear that the project's target demographic had expanded past young people in care and regular young people would also benefit greatly. This reinforced the push towards a more market-appropriate brand. A highly animated workshop eventually settled on Sortli.
The ample feedback and insight through the workshops laid the foundation to a streamlined branding and visual identity process. A handful of concepts were quickly narrowed.
While writing the storyboard and script for the promotional video, final mocks were prepared for approval and the technical specifications were once again reviewed. The development team had started on the framework and were briefed in earnest.
A Great Experience
The fourteen-week sprint was capped off with fanfare and media attention at the Queensland Government's Transition to Independence Month event. Sortli was launched to positive reception and congratulatory handshakes with the Minister were had.
Beyond being a line item in the DCCSDS Annual Report (2014–15), Sortli was nominated as a finalist in the Excellence in eGoverment Awards and has expanded beyond its Queensland borders to address the needs of young people in other states. The app has now been developed with the Department of Health and Human Services for young people in Victoria, the Commonwealth Department of Social Services and the Department of Communities for young people in Western Australia, and the Department for Child Protection for young people in South Australia.
The Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services have been working with Klyp on an innovative mobile app project to support young people in care to transition to independence. This project has been a collaborative partnership with a number of different stakeholders including the target audience of young people in care, state government, the non-government organisation sector and the private sector.
Klyp has been responsible for working with all stakeholders in the branding, design, mobile app development and a promotional video to support the app. They have successfully delivered on all aspects of the project, within extremely tight timeframes. Their creativity, ideas and ability to remain on schedule were an integral component of the project. All their staff have been professional, friendly and they have been committed and passionate towards this project.
I would strongly recommend them to any organisations working on any other similar types of projects.