User-centred content for domestic abuse survivors

The domestic abuse charity, Hestia, hired us to work on new content for a website version of their app, Bright Sky.

Hestia wanted to:

  • address accessibility issues with the app,
  • understand its different audiences,
  • create content that would meet their users' needs.

The challenge

Hestia are committed to focusing on user centred design and offering a really positive integrated experience, both online and offline. They wanted to open up their domestic abuse content to a much wider audience. To do this, they needed to make a web version of their Bright Sky mobile app.

Digital Innovation Lead at Hestia, Eve Critchley, said:

“We were trying to solve a lot of different problems and meet a lot different audience needs on domestic abuse. This was an opportunity to focus on the really core things that make a difference for people.”

How we solved it

We started the project with stakeholder interviews to find out where we should focus our efforts. It was very important to understand what they wanted the content to achieve.

“Bright Sky should provide an almost virtual one-stop-shop of initial information and guidance, as well as a directory for where to find domestic abuse support,” - Bright Sky stakeholder.

From these initial conversations, we decided to work on Bright Sky’s self assessment and bystander “quizzes”.

This content aims to help domestic abuse victims reflect on their experiences and decide if they are in an abusive situation. It aims to help people (bystanders such as friends, family and colleagues) recognise the signs of someone experiencing domestic abuse.

So that we could iterate the current quiz content, we researched language around domestic abuse and created a bank of user needs. We worked with Hestia’s team to produce journey maps for these two user groups. It was really important to capture both the online and offline steps in these journeys.

Our team collaborated closely with Hestia’s web development partners to design content that would reflect and meet the user needs. We focused heavily on iterating tone and considered cognitive load in the visual design. We also used language that would tap into how domestic abuse victims might describe their situations.

Before and after

Here are a couple of screenshots of the old app self assessment content:

2 screenshots of the old app. The first screenshot has a question asking

And now, here are a couple of screenshots with the iterated content on the new website:

2 screenshots of the new site on mobile. It has questions like

The results

Bright Sky's professional assessment content has been transformed into a tool that really helps someone to reflect on their experiences. The language and tone are purposeful in relation to the intended audience. It now helps them to assess their situation and make safe choices.

In a recent usability session, a few users commented,

“I appreciated the comforting and reassuring tone throughout the site, particularly the reminder, ‘You are not alone’.”

“It was easy to click through the site and find what I was looking for. I could see which information was clearly aimed at a survivor versus a friend or colleague.”

“I really liked the simplicity of the homepage and the direct way it prompts two types of people looking for support and information.”

We asked Hestia what outcomes were achieved from doing the project with CDL:

“We’ve been able to learn the content design process and understand the thinking behind it. That’s been firmly embedded within the team.

The journey mapping helped us to keep in mind the realities of what domestic abuse victims and bystanders are dealing with, every day.

Our team knows what good looks like and what we’re aiming for now. I’m not a content specialist, but I know what a difference it makes when you involve content specialists.”

Eve Critchley, Digital Innovation Lead at Hestia.

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