Depression website redesign

Improving accessibility and support for Mental Health with the website

Somar Digital was engaged by Health Promotion, Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora to embark on a critical project to design and develop the refreshed — a website dedicated to easy to understand, practical, and trust-worthy mental health information that is relevant to the socio-cultural context in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The primary goals were to enhance UX and UI design, ensure mobile responsiveness, and create a vibrant, accessible web application. link)

Goals and Objectives

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The existing website was outdated, prompting the need for a new, responsive web application catering to a broader and more diverse audience. The initial design was completed by another agency, and handed over to Somar Digital to prepare the designs for web readiness. This included incorporating cultural knowledge into web design and development — including a karakia function — and ensuring mobile responsiveness. The design aimed to move away from the grey tones of the old site, introducing more relaxing, nature-inspired and hopeful colours.

A primary objective of this project was to develop the website following best practices in user experience and technology, utilising Sanity as a headless CMS.

group of multi cultural people sitting around talking

A Website with Purpose

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The overarching purpose of the website is to validate peoples' experiences, and provide them with information and practical advice related to depression and mental health. The website also aims to present options to support yourself, support others, and seek in-person support.

illustration of family walking along beach

UX/UI Design Approach

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The UX/UI design approach to the project involved a meticulous analysis of the existing design files to address inconsistencies, accessibility issues, and the absence of a design library. While the client had acquired some user research prior to Somar Digital's engagement, additional research was performed by partners on near-final designs. This iterative process driven by user feedback led to adjustments, particularly in the realm of colour choices.

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Fixing Accessibility Issues

get help page on depression website v2

The inherited UI was not yet ready for web development, and presented accessibility issues — especially around contrast and font sizing. Creating a consistent UI across devices and components, such as buttons and link stylings, was crucial for providing a seamless user experience to the diverse needs of the audience. The website now also aligns with the new accessibility and plain language standards which helps to improve transparency and build trust with users.

get help page on depression website v2

Collaborative Approach partner logos

Somar Digital’s partners involved in the project included cultural and content consultants Tātou NZ Ltd and Dioscuri Limited alongside Health Promotion. The collaboration approach involved agile ceremonies, shared documentation, and well-established communication channels. Alongside the deft management of our wonderful client partners, these elements were crucial in navigating the challenges of having multiple providers working as one cohesive project team — ensuring effective teamwork, and maintaining project progress. All parties involved were able to collaborate in a way that meant adapting and rising to project challenges was handled smoothly. partner logos
depression webpages on mobile screens
understanding mental health webpage on laptop
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Notable Features

Existing analytics identified the popularity of the self-test tools. Therefore, this was a pivotal feature expected to be one of the most highly used elements of the new website. The self tests are validated self-report screening tools, helping users understand their mental health and guiding them on their journey. The collaboration with the client to introduce additional features around the tests, such as specific next steps based on scores and useful resources, further enhanced the website's improvement and potential impact.

Impact on User Experience

While the website has only recently been launched, the team anticipates a positive response to the user experience improvements and overall engagement. Future user research is planned to gather metrics on performance and further refine the user experience based on real-world usage.

Meeting Business Objectives

The enhanced user experience, coupled with rich content, positions the platform as a valuable resource for people with depression or people looking for information about their own or someone else’s mental health, thus meeting the clients primary objectives. Additionally, the project has increased the Somar team's proficiency in utilising Sanity as a headless CMS, aligning with best practices for scalable and efficient content management. The launch of a modern, accessible website with a vibrant look and feel reflects the successful execution of the design and development process. The outcome is a more secure and robust product that celebrates the highly impactful content, and that is future-proofed for further enhancement.