Fostering a resilient community of helpers through access to each other and the resources they need.
Autism Speaks faced several key challenges without an online community platform. These included limited reach beyond their immediate network, difficulty in organizing and managing community events, limited opportunities for collaboration, limited resource-sharing, and lack of engagement from members. These challenges resulted in missed opportunities to expand their support base, connect with potential members and supporters, and share resources related to autism support and advocacy. Additionally, Autism Speaks lacked a centralized online platform for their community to connect, including families, doctors, caregivers, and others. Having an online community platform would have enabled them to overcome these challenges and better fulfill their mission to support individuals with autism and their families.
Our strategic and technical considerations had to move in lock-step with one another as the creation, implementation, and deployment of the ideal platform had multiple internal technical dependencies to account for.
In order to gain an understanding of their stakeholders and their needs, our team went to their headquarters in New York to conduct a three hour interactive workshop. This allowed us to dig deep and understand Autism Speaks key personas, needs, and wants prior to sketching solutions.
From Ideas to Concepts
Our iterative process moved from sketches, to wireframes, to designs, and interactive prototypes that allowed us to gather critical internal and external stakeholder feedback along the way to ensure the solution being built was solving key user needs.
A Personalized Experience
Autism Speaks’ online community platform offers each user a personalized experience. User information collected during registration is used to generate customized content and recommendations. This algorithm improves user engagement and helps Autism Speaks tailor content to meet the needs of their community.
Leveraging Machine Learning Recommendations
The platform incorporates a sophisticated machine learning algorithm, driving content recommendations through collaborative filtering. As the user navigates, likes, and saves content, the platform becomes “smarter” and recommends content and resources relevant to them.
React + Drupal
With Drupal powering Autism Speaks’ public facing site, we decided to build the portal on the same technology. However, with the level of interactivity required, Drupal would not be able to provide the level of performance required.
Implementing an online community platform has helped Autism Speaks overcome many of the challenges they previously faced. The platform has provided a means for them to connect with a wider audience, expand their support base, and share resources related to autism advocacy and support more easily. With the online platform, they can better organize and manage community events, collaborate more effectively with members, and engage their community more deeply. Furthermore, the platform has provided a centralized location for members to exchange ideas and support each other, including families, doctors, caregivers, and others. Overall, the online community platform has allowed Autism Speaks to fulfill its mission more effectively and better serve individuals with autism and their families.
The platform is such a success that Autism Speak Canada has decided to leverage the technology and is in the process of launching their own version of the portal.