What was the scope of their involvement?
Roket is developing a web application for us to do brief, comprehensive screening for mental health problems in adolescents and young adults in urban environments, with a specific focus on African American youth. We needed it to be diverse so that it would appeal to other youth as well. We wanted it to be youth friendly, aesthetically pleasing, and interactive.
Not only did Roket develop a screening for us, but also brief mental health education software. Our aim was to bring therapy sessions to broader audiences. Very few people get that first therapy session where they actually talk about mental health problems. This includes what mental health is, what wellness is, what the risk factors are, and how to get help. We wanted to bring this service to diverse young people without them having to go to therapy so they could gain awareness, which encourages them to get help.
Roket was instrumental in helping us take a lot of information around this subject and focusing on the key parts. They helped us think about design and how to appeal to our audience, which was very helpful because we didn’t know where to start.
I needed to make sure Roket could appeal to our target audience, and I felt they did a good job with that. It was even more reassuring when we got our usability group of 9 ranging from 14-24 years of age that included 2 White, 1 Native American, and 6 African American youth. It was a diverse audience who was broad in age and developmental phases. It was impressive to see the youth react to the images and flow of the app.
Universities move slowly, so that was challenging for Roket. I’m not a clinical social worker, so I had clinical consultants who I was working with to help me. My grant is focused on patient and family engagement, so it’s concerned with youth, parents, community members, and clinical consultants along the way. We had to design the project and send it through some channels before it went to Roket. It was a learning process for them as well, because not every client will be able to give what is needed right away.
Roket built the app using Ruby on Rails and Heroku. They also gave us a couple designs to select from and made it to where we can easily make changes if needed. They also built a provider side to the app where they can see screenings of young people, which has been extremely useful.
They also had to learn about university requirements for data security, and they work with our University of Pittsburgh servers. We’re about to pilot the app with certain clinics, and they’ll be interacting with the IT departments for those clinics on medical health information protection.
What is the team dynamic?
Alex [Co-Founder & Technical Lead] is the main coder, Jennifer [Senior Visual Designer] does design, and David [Co-Founder & Design Lead] does some design work along with branding.
How did you come to work with Roket?
We were increasingly dissatisfied with our previous developer because they weren’t giving us enough guidance about what they needed. We got the sense that they weren’t developing the app with an eye towards engaging and appealing to our audience. We received a couple recommendations from people within the university, and also did a Google search, which brought up a site with a list of firms, including Roket. The website may have been Clutch. We looked through some work from different firms, and interviewed two of them, but kept coming back to Roket. They were willing to meet with us in person, which we really liked. One thing that was nice about them was that they weren’t trying to change everything we had already done.
I had already come up with the name, AskMe.HearMe, which was an acronym for what we were doing. It was important to keep the name because it represents our vision of kids being asked important questions about mental health, and also kids feeling empowered in asking their own questions. Roket wasn’t quick to suggest changing the name, whereas another group we considered wanted to make changes instantly and also charge us for a consultation. We had already lost money with another group, so we didn’t want to pay someone for something when we didn’t know if they could deliver what we needed.
Roket gave us some ideas of what they could do, which was very helpful. They were flexible in understanding that we didn’t know how soon we could get out of our other contract. They even proposed a way they could completely design the app or design pieces in case we had to keep the other contractor. They also gave us guidance on how to communicate with the previous groups in order to end the contract. David [Co-Founder & Design Lead] also gave us advice on the work the previous contractor had done. They were able to build our trust even though we’d been burned by another firm.
How much have you invested with them?
We’ve spent $150,000.
What is the status of this engagement?
We started working with them in August 2016, and the relationship is ongoing.