Bringing out the uniqueness of Validia – also in digital form
“Each life is valuable.”
For physically or mentally disabled people, having a life that “looks like them” is sometimes reached through the support and help of others. This is what the professionals at Validia Housing and Validia Rehabilitation set out to achieve already decades ago. To ease the users’ lives also in the digital regime, it had become obvious that some modernisation and restructuring needed to be done to the websites as well.
User needs in focus
As it so happened the Finnish Association of People with Physical Disabilities, that both Validia Housing and Validia Rehabilitation are part of, had just renewed their website in partnership with Exove and were willing to share the codebase to be used by Validia. This meant that all the basic functionalities could be conducted cost effectively and focus of the project could be directed to the user needs and how the content is presented.
With the core features already taken care of, the goals for the project were determined to be
Ease of use
Great user experience
Creation of sales opportunities
How do we ensure that not only our customers, but their families and also municipal level decision makers, will find the information and services that is most relevant to them?
Professional and caring at heart
Usability and accessibility were identified as key focus points that would help us reach the project goals. As such it was only natural to involve the users from the very beginning. This meant engaging customers, their loved ones, municipality level decision makers and Validia staff into a co-creation process that included tools such as one-on-one interviews, workshop sessions and intensive prototype testing days.
Throughout this process we were able to define that which makes Validia unique – a high level of professionalism and caring atmosphere in which the services are provided. These core values were turned into design drivers, that together with mobile first approach, challenged the whole project team to prioritize and simplify both the content as well as the features that were developed for the site.
I’m especially happy with how broadly you took into account the different wishes of each company. The solution-oriented taken by Paavo and Nelli when approaching tricky challenges and the ability to solve them was impressive.
Accessibility, ease of navigation and simple functionalities
The site built upon the results of the co-creation process is truly based on the user needs but at the same time also takes into account the business goals. With generous cross-linking and carefully placed highlights we were able to keep information intuitive and easy to find throughout the site. The structure of the site is easy to learn as most of the elements are kept simple and consistent – vital for users with disabilities. The impact and value of the provided services are communicated using carefully created stories, images and service descriptions.
As with the Finnish Association of People with Physical Disabilities the platform for this project was Drupal 8. Throughout the co-creation process the technology stack and features already developed in the previous process were kept in mind. This way we were able to reuse as much of the solution as possible with minimal tweaks, such as content types, SOLR search and integrations to the Laura recruitment system.
Taking this approach from the start, along with a rigorous use of agile development methods, we were able to pack an impressive amount of features into the site all while keeping it accessible as per WCAG AA, user friendly for both editors and visitors and the project itself both on budget and schedule.
Challenging the team to really meet the user needs
What really made the most out of the user research, the prototype, and eventually the sites was the “deam-team” setup with constant communication, suggesting of solutions and solving problems together. For us at Exove one of the notable takeaways of the project was hearing all those stories of how Validia has helped people to get better or have a life that is theirs to live with the help they need. It has been inspiring and a great honour to work for such an important matter.