Wehl has been a work in progress since 2015. It’s been a meandering journey filled with many twists and turns. After much planning and research, conducting formal and informal initial interviews, drawing everything from pencil wireframes to digital wireframes, drafting mock-ups and designs, and many discussions over dinner, walks, Skype, email, text and phone, Wehl began to really take shape in the fall of 2016. Mark – our super-talented Designer and Technical Rockstar – coded away, working his magic, and built a beautiful, healthy social platform. Wehl had transitioned from an idea to a plan to a real, usable platform!
It took a bit longer than we had all hoped, as most projects often do, but was it ever worth the wait! It was an amazing feeling the first time we logged into Wehl and got to create our own profile and make some test posts! It was like opening a new toy on Christmas morning and spending every minute possible playing with it and seeing what it could do. We fixed a few bugs and made some improvements based on our own testing. Then it was time to invite friends and family to help us continue to test it out and begin to develop a community!
We gradually shared the platform with more and more of our friends and continued to make changes based on their feedback. People would let us know when something wasn’t working right and we would work to fix it. We’re grateful to all those who helped us in these early stages of Wehl. Below are a few highlights of our process and findings during our first phase of testing.
Our Goal: To test the functionality of our initial Wehl platform on a variety of devices and browsers and to gather feedback about the value and usefulness of the product to help improve personal wellness.
We tested the platform with friends and family to:
- Fix “bugs” on both mobile and desktop devices – these are inevitable when you’re building any online product. We needed to make sure that when members clicked on something, it did what it was supposed to do.
- Test functionalities and features including the sign up process, the ability to share posts and tips, the ability to comment and favorite, and the process of creating your personal profile.
- Begin to develop a positive and supportive culture of wehlness.
- Gather feedback to inform future development including additional features specific to improving wellness and developing a cooperative community.
We’re committed to building Wehl with our community which means we needed to get out there and ask our members about their experience! We wanted ideas, advice and opinions (the good, the bad and the ugly) – any way we could get it. Much of the winter and spring of 2017 was spent gathering feedback in a variety of ways, including informally via voluntary verbal and written feedback as well as through more formal phone interviews, in-person interviews and surveys.
Below you can find a snapshot of what we heard from our initial community members.
- The positive focus and encouraging culture – different from other social experiences.
- The inspiring content and new ideas and tips people haven’t thought of.
- The design and color palette is soothing and relaxing yet energizing at the same time.
- Members like the difference between tips and posts. They say they like to know a bit more of what they can expect to be reading.
- The focus on prevention, balance, wholeness and the 6 components that all play a role in wellness.
- The support system Wehl offers for wellness.
- Members enjoy seeing what wellness means to others and what others are pursuing.
- Practical, fact or personal scenario based advice and information that’s relatable to real life.
The Needs Improvement:
We really appreciate the “needs improvement” feedback that we received. It’s not always easy to give or receive this type of feedback but it’s imperative for improvement. Here are a few of the themes:
- We heard from some that the information and content on a few pages could be shortened to make it faster to read and better showcase Wehl’s value.
- We learned that we need to improve the main page of Wehl for prospective users to better understand what Wehl was all about, what it means to join and how Wehl can help them.
- To better understand the difference between posts and tips as well as get more ideas about what to post, it was suggested that we could provide some examples for new users.
- Members expressed that they enjoy spending time on Wehl. However, because it is new, they would welcome reminders to help make it a new habit and a natural part of their routine.
- Some people were having problems with Wehl emails getting sent to their junk mail.
We carefully considered all of the feedback we received so far and have done our best to incorporate as much as we could. Here are a few examples of what we’ve improved, what we’re working on improving, and a few ideas we’re considering for the future. It’s not an exhaustive list – there will be more to come.
- Examples of what we fixed / added include:
- Follower / Following model – The ability to customize your feed and follow certain members on their wellness journey.
- Search enhancements – the ability to search for a member.
- High-Five – the ability to cheer someone on, offer encouragement and appreciation. The high-five was a natural fit in our cooperative culture. It’s another way to easily engage, especially with those we don’t know personally.
- Persistent Log In – the ability to stay logged in (subject to your browser settings).
- Notifications – A place to keep track of interactions with your posts and tips by other members as well as to be made aware of a post or comment that someone has mentioned you in. These notifications will also be sent to your email (unless you choose to not receive them).
- Ability to reply directly to someone’s comment under a post or tip.
- Welcome emails – We’ve created a series of emails to help new members feel welcome and become oriented to Wehl.
- Community Manifesto – Community members expressed a desire for some structure around what our community is about and how we should act in order to create a supportive online environment for wehlness.
- What we’re currently working on:
- Newsletters – to help members stay up-to-date.
- Content to help users better understand how to use the platform and suggestions for what to share.
- Auto login after email verifications.
- Ideas we’re considering for the future:
- Ability to search your favorites.
- Ability to promote a wellness product or service via a profile upgrade.
- And much more! (but we need to keep some as a surprise)
We completed our first phase of beta testing in August of this year. As a thank you, we invited our earliest beta testers to a celebration party, and it was great to hang out. We even had a kombucha taste testing contest! It was nice getting some feedback in person on where we are and talk about what we plan to do next!
Onward We Go:
This month, we’re moving into our next phase of beta testing with new members joining us. Friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances of our initial community are coming on board to help us. We’re continuing to build this platform with our community members and will seek out feedback as we work to further improve the Wehl experience!