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Rob Hough's Portfolio

Talk It Out

A simple, fun, and human way to manage your wellbeing
Team: Rob (Lead Design), Alex (Design), Ross (PM), Cate (PO), Jeff (iOS Eng), Josh (Android Eng), Loic (Cloud Eng), Murugan (QA)
Timeline: Aug 2020 - Feb 2021
Type: B2B/B2C Wellbeing SaaS
TL;DR Video
Background 🤔
We partnered with Talk It Out, a wellbeing program, to digitise their current service so they could scale from hundreds to a hundred thousand users. Chris, Jim, and Ross are wellbeing consultants who invented a process they called ‘Talk It Out’. It’s a fun, simple, and human way to help your wellbeing.
The truth is humans simply aren't designed for the world we live in today. Over 450 million people in the world suffer with a mental health issue. 66% of those wont speak to a human due the stigma attached to it. On top of that most wellbeing approaches simply soothe our emotions, rather than help us process what they really mean.
TIO had been running for years through a manual, 1:1 consulting-style service. The team would work with companies to teach them the understand their emotions and get to the heart of what it really means. The problem is this process is unscalable. They wanted our help to digitise the process and create a self-serve option that would work for both B2B and B2C customers.
How do we know if this is successful?
TIO will onboard 1000 B2B users in the first year, and start to grow their B2C base through the App store. They want to helped increased employee wellbeing by at least 25% and see an increase MoM of daily use – this would show that TIO is becoming part of the users lives and starting to become a habit.
What We Did ⚡️
Our goal was to build an MVP iOS/Android app to release in stores by Jan. We would open up the app to B2B and B2C users, with a premium subscription option for the later group. The app would aim to digitise the current TIO process, as well as provide content to help users understand how TIO can help them as understand their wellbeing.
The current TIO process requires a participant to record a 20 minute audio session of them talking un-inhibited. They then listen back to this recording and “capture insights” whilst listening to themselves. These insights allow a participant to have an objective view of what they’re saying so they can pinpoint exactly what is causing them distress.
We were lucky that these guys had already been running the product in a manual form for a few years. Their insights and feedback had shaped a process they knew worked. The biggest challenge was how can we get that into a digital product? Will users understand how to do this without some to goto and guide them?
The Approach
We had a lot of research completed by the TIO team and their partners at Bristol University. However, we conducted our own week of research to help understand how users interact with and feel about wellbeing tech products. We spoke to 20 people over a week, looking at current products in the space (Calm, Headspace, Strava) and asked users what they liked/didn’t like about the products. We spoke to current customers of TIO and people who had never heard of them so we could compare the data.
We gathered up all this research and brought it to a Design Sprint. This is a 5-day process that kicks off with a workshop to understand the challenges and map out the product. We then create a rapid prototype in a single day and run a 1:1 user study at the end. It gives us a really good head-start on the product discovery, as well as aligning the entire team of the direction we need to go.
I facilitated this workshop with our nuom team (Cate, Loic, Martin) and TIO team (Jim, Chris, Ross). We used Miro to run this remotely. We started off with Expert Talks, which is where everyone went round to present their research and talk about their goals and challenges for the product. The rest of the team wrote down these challenges in HMW notes. Afterwards we gathered these up, and prioritised them using a dot voting exercise.
We mapped out the flow of TIO process, and brought everything together. Later that day, we individually sketched out some ideas. This allowed us to quickly visualise our idea for the TIO product and gather rapid feedback from Chris, Jim and Ross. We finally storyboarded our sketches into a prototype that we felt focused on the key areas of the product we were most concerned about.
TIO – Remote Design Sprint - Map.jpg
Will users understand the process on the first go?
Will users feel comfortable doing a full session themselves?
How do we encourage them to come back and do it again?

To simulate the recording and audio playback – I wrote a simple React app. We don’t usually do this when prototyping as it takes quite a lot of time at this stage. But we all felt it was important to have real audio and actually give the user a sense of the real process.
On Friday, we sat down with 5 users to run 1:1 qualitative studies. We asked them contextual questions around how they managed their wellbeing, and watched them use the prototype. We split the observations into three groups: Onboarding, Recording & Insights
One of the key outcomes from the research was that the concept resonated with users, for both people who knew about TIO and those who didn’t. Although we saw that the concept was too complex to understand first time round. After walking through the concept, the value was really clear.
Another thing we found was that achievements and progress would be a great addition. We discussed this during our workshops but couldn’t decide on how to add it to the product. After the prototype test, we discussed the idea and asked users what they thought. We got some really good feedback and we discussed other apps they used to track progress, such as Duolingo and Strava.
We also saw that it took a few goes to really have that ‘a-ha’ moment and understand how to use the product. That gave birth to the idea of adding challenges.
Key Flows
From our initial discovery, we saw that the onboarding and recording experience were key sections to get right. We also found that adding some form of achievement stats and way to chart your progress was important. We focused on these sections first: Onboarding, Recording, Stats, Challenges.
When users tested our initial prototype, they found the onboarding informative but too long. We front-loaded everything a user needed to know about completing their first session when they’d downloaded the app. This was a big expectation to put on a new users who hadn’t even signed up yet. We split the onboarding and created a more contextual approach – walking users through how to record when they want to start their first session.
Also being thrown into a session straight away was daunting, especially doing a whole 20 minutes. We solved this by replacing the onboarding carousel with short videos. We also employed the idea of Progress Disclosure. The first set of onboarding would explain the process, with more contextual onboarding on each section (e.g. when your first record a session).
We also reduced the first session to a 10 minute session, with prompts about what to talk about. Coupled with challenges, we believed this would give users a slow build into using TIO daily.
When we started the early thinking for the project, one of our key focuses was around that recording flow. We wanted to get users to record a sessions as soon as possible because we knew by doing it, we could help them have that ‘a-ha’ moment – which would lead to increase daily use.
The TIO session is split into 3 sections: Recording, Insights, Actions. For each step we wanted to talk a user through each step and, most importantly, explain why they should follow the steps. Unlike some products, TIO doesn’t have multiple flows. This is an important UX decision because the process only works if you follow the steps properly. We can’t rely on the users “finding their own way” because they wont be able to make progress without doing it properly.
So even though there’s little worry of users “getting lost” – it’s important to explain why there are such specific steps to follow.
After the first round of beta testing, we made a few small changes. We improved some of the visual design so it all followed the branded purple colour scheme, which made it feel like one process.
We also saw that after users had done quite a few sessions it was getting difficult to organise them. Users would use TIO on a regular basis, so relying on naming was difficult. You may have done 5 sessions this week – but what did they relate too? We added a simple tagging system to help users group their sessions. So, if they wanted to look back through their insights around ‘Work’ – it was just a couple of taps away.
We also added a Stats section to help user see their progress whilst using TIO. We looked at what other competitors were tracking and what we could feasibly track with the budget we had. We focused on streaks, wellbeing, and their wellbeing measured during challenges.
From our initial research and testing, we knew there was a big appetite for progress tracking. Users really feel that seeing where they’ve been can really spur them on to continue using the product. We’d seen the success on competitors products. Matching these with challenges was something we saw lower the time between sign-up and starting that first session.
This was a big build out project. It’s a common type of project we do at nuom. Spanning 6 months, we rolled out a few beta releases.
On the first rollout, we tested with 400 B2B users using Testflight. We saw MoM growth in Daily users. When speaking to some of these users, we found that the challenges really helped them build TIO as a daily habit.
After rolling out to a further 400 and launching publicly, we gathered some good qualitative feedback. From a recent study done by TIO, they’ve seen an increase in employee wellbeing by 33%. This means less sick days, better employee productivity, and happiness. We also have a 4.8* rating over both app stores.
What went well
We shipped A LOT of features iteratively which I feel is the best way (generally speaking) to launch a product. We could get great feedback on what worked and what didn’t – allowing us to make fixes and changes quicker than with a longer feedback loop.
I lead and executed all the design until the first beta release. Then our new designer Alex took over as her first project. I think she jumped on it really well. It can be hard taking over a product that’s already had so much work put into it and really live and breathe the problem.
What could have been better
We had a tight deadline and a lot of features to ship. I wish we could have done more testing for some of the features. A few months from launch, we found some smaller features needed tweaks and haven’t got full utilisation. Maybe this would have been caught with more research, who knows.

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