TRAILS is a non-profit organization committed to providing resources to help support the mental health crisis in all schools. Per their website, “Nearly 50% of adolescents have experienced symptoms of a mental illness. Among all young people, suicide is a leading cause of death.” TRAILS provides curriculum, mental health resources, and implementation support to schools across the nation. By partnering with schools, TRAILS provides support for teachers, guidance counselors, and mental health professionals to meet students where they are at, and provide evidence-based mental health care. Their three tiers of culturally responsible programming support students in social and emotional learning, CBT and mindfulness, coping with COVID-19, and suicide prevention and risk management. Their organization provides critical support to youth who lack access to effective mental health treatment.
Due to the impact of COVID and the continuing mental health crisis among our youth, TRAILS noticed a significant uptick in web traffic and demand for their resources. They sought a digital services partner who could help them enhance their website to respond to the increased needs of their organization. Initially, they were just looking to update their website to gather more robust analytics and develop a personalized user experience.
When Exygy began partnering with TRAILS, we began by asking questions to understand the vision for the platform and the existing tech team at TRAILS. We became familiar with the talented team they already had and recognized their core need was for a clearer product vision and product development leadership. As in many cases, our role was to not only support in developing the next iteration of their website, but also equip their growing team of designers, engineers, and product managers to employ best practice frameworks so they can become a stronger self-sustaining team.
With those goals in mind, we began with some product and design discovery to better outline the measures of success for the next iteration of the site. We paired one of our seasoned Exygy PMs with their product manager to go through a product visioning exercise to articulate a vision that reflected the needs of their stakeholders and gave clear direction for the design and engineering teams. Together, they then set up a roadmap, planned sprints, and iteratively rolled out features. We created and shared templates for sprint planning, progress updates, and planning workshops to help kickstart their product management practice.
Our design team began to conduct the research necessary to make informed development decisions. We assessed what research had already been done and conducted supplemental research. Connecting the dots between research and product vision we created design frameworks that could be replicated by the TRAILS team later on. At every step of the design process, we partnered with invited the TRAILS designer such that we first taught them the best practices and then supported them in executing the work themselves. In this way, we were able to train them in Exygy's design methodology.
With the design work in place, we were able to partner with their engineering team to begin development. At the start, the TRAILS team only had one Engineer and so we added a few Exygy Engineers to build up the development capacity needed to meet the launch timeline. The addition of our experienced Engineers helped create a supportive technical culture within the team. The engineering team at Exygy has a thrice-weekly huddle where the team jumps online to work collaboratively, ask questions, and help each other solve problems. We brought this same spirit to the coding work on the TRAILS project. To build long-term capacity for the TRAILS team, we supported their efforts as they hired more engineers by sharing the insights we have learned from many years of building engineering teams.
In the beginning, we were more hands on and as their team quickly matured in their practice, we were able to step into a coaching role until they became fully self-sufficient. By the time TRAILS launched their refreshed website their team no longer needed any support from Exygy.
Launched in the fall of 2022, the New TRAILS website is currently serving people dedicated to solving the mental health crisis among our youth. Personalized features, more capabilities, and a refreshed design lowers the barrier to access and puts resources in the hands of more people. They are also now fully equipped to iterate on their site using product, design, and engineering best practices independently.
We love to design and build products, but we also love the ability to empower others to do the same. One of the ways we work with clients is through coaching new skills, facilitating learning opportunities, and giving them the space to lead. It is always a privilege to work with clients in this way. At the end of our partnership, the TRAILS team was prepared to grow their team, organization, and impact in new ways. Ultimately this means that more at-risk youth will be able to get more mental health support from professionals equipped with the TRAILS resources.
“Our team feels so grateful to have found Exygy to partner with on our integrated website and dashboard to help disseminate our programming and expand our reach. Not only did Exygy build out the capacity of our technology innovations team by offering the effort of expert PMs, user experience designers, and engineers, but they offered a wide array of additional support by sharing methods, tools, and strategies to ensure we would grow to be independently sustainable. What's more, Exygy helped us keep the guiding light of our own organization's mission, vision, and goals in the forefront of our decision-making, which kept our product on track and on time. Despite how well-positioned they left us, I hope we'll have an opportunity to work with Exygy again in the future -- they are not only experts in their fields, but their enthusiasm and care is truly felt in everything they do.”
- Emily Berregaard, Technology Innovations Director