Partnership for a Cause: How We Built a Wellness App that Helps Parents & Coaches of Autistic Children
to Improve their Lives with Guided Therapy
To build an autism-friendly exercise system that leads to better fitness and behaviour among children with special needs.
12 Universities, Thousands of Parents and Professionals.
Project closed with 100% client satisfaction.
1 Principal Designer
1 UI Designer
1 UX Designer
1 Product Designer
It All Started When a Wellness Coach Approached Digicorp to Pursue His Lifelong Vision to Empower Children with Special Needs…
When David, a physical trainer with over 15 years of experience in caring for autistic children reached out to us, little did we know that we would soon be building a wellness app that can transform the lives of millions of children with special needs.
Families with children who suffer from autism, down syndrome and other physical and cognitive disabilities find it immensely challenging to improve their child’s life through diet, cognitive therapy and other behavioral and motor therapies, since each special child needs to follow a unique routine specific to his/her needs. Further, the daily activities carried out by them on any given day determine which exercises and therapeutic approaches need to be done on the next day. Unless an experienced wellness coach like David is available to track, monitor, and guide them regularly, their needs can go unmet and thereby negatively impact their recovery.
Back in 2017, the client, who had dedicated his life to improving the life experience of special children was struggling to physically reach and guide thousands of parents who needed him. Further, advise and guidance alone was not enough – tracking the children’s activities and recommending the next-to-do items at scale and in a customized manner was another stumbling block. When he reached out to Digicorp with the idea of Exercise Buddy, we realized that this project had the potential to transform the lives of many, and was also a great opportunity to showcase our capabilities in building challenging technology products geared to serve the greater good.
Initial Research - User Persona and Flow
Digitizing the client’s exercise programs was at the heart of the solution, but given that the exercises needed to be administered by children’s parents and relatives who were not usually tech-savvy, had limited time, and also needed to use the platform to record the child’s progress, it was essential for Exercise Buddy to intuitive, easy-to-use, interactive and engaging. Further, the app needs to be installed, used and updated effortlessly on handheld devices like mobile phones and iPads.Digicorp team had a series of conversations with the client to understand the special needs of the community. After a series of conversations, we conceived a workflow and created wireframes for the application.
Our UI-UX team then came up with a beautiful and user-friendly design with each of the elements telling a story that fits into the larger product message. The primary users of the iPad application were instructors and families who can guide their children or groups with various workouts. The application was designed such that instructors can assign children and groups being trained under their profile. A robust backend system was also developed for managing users, groups, categories, & exercises by the coach.
End-to-end Project Execution
An interesting visual tool in this product was an educational feature that was designed to educate children with different parts of the body with appropriate figures based on various ethnicities.
Further, the app was replenished with a repository of different exercises provided with postures and relevant shapes of objects (e.g. Butterfly, Airplane, etc.) and illustrative videos that help parents and instructors educate children with ease.
Parents and instructors can now see their child’s growth progress in real-time with the handheld device. The workout program was designed in three different types of flows. These were:
- First-Then – covering a sequence of activities.
- Start-Finish – tracking activity from the beginning to the end.
- Circuits – clusters of activities that supplement and complement each other.
The Pro version of the app has over 200 visuals on social narratives and over 150 exercise videos. These programs were included in the app with audio-visual indications to help instructors make their sessions more effective.
To measure overall growth and keep track of progress and health parameters, we also developed a module to monitor each child’s weight, height, waist, and hips, along with the recommended range of these measurements on the figures.
User guide, answers to frequently asked questions, and ‘help’ features were made available in the final version of the application to make the experience smooth and glitch-free for the users. The inclusion of an in-app or external analytics solution is a potential add-on to make progress more visible for parents and instructors.
The key technologies used in this project were CakePHP and MySQL. We dedicated a team consisting of a UX Designer, a UI Designer, a Product Designer, and a Principal Designer for the project.
At present, 12 universities and thousands of parents and professionals have enthusiastically embraced Exercise Buddy because of its user-friendly UI-UX design and intuitive flow. Officials at Western Illinois University, for example, are using Exercise Buddy in their clinics to improve the lives of kids who struggle with motor skills. In the future, the client intends to make enterprise-level products to deliver the solution to schools and other organizations.
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