The Challenge

The client had an existing mobile app that they wished to bring to the web. Their previous developer did not have the capacity to support this effort.

The Solution

Twin Sun built the web app with a user experience that felt familiar to mobile users. We then created a support plan that adjusts to the client’s unique budgeting needs.

The Results

The client has benefited from significant user growth and increased capabilities since launching the web app with Twin Sun.

Connecting Veterans to Mental Health Resources

The Objective Zero Foundation is a non-profit focused on combating suicide within the military community. They help service members and veterans connect with one another and discover free or low-cost mental health and wellness resources.

Objective Zero’s technology platform helps veterans find these resources. A core part of the platform is a volunteer ambassador program. Ambassadors field phone calls, text messages, and video calls from people in need of support. Whenever a community member needs someone to listen to them, an ambassador is there.

Bringing a Familiar Experience From Mobile to Web

The foundation came to Twin Sun with an existing mobile app for Android and iOS. However, they recognized that installing a mobile app could be a barrier to some veterans seeking help. The Objective Zero Foundation wished to bring the features and resources they had in their mobile apps to a web application. This would give everyone access to Objective Zero from any modern web browser on any device.

Objective Zero’s platform already had native Android and iOS apps, and backing web services built with Node.js. We used the mobile apps as guidance for building the web app’s user experience. By comparing newly developed web-based functionality to the existing mobile apps, we ensured we built an experience that was consistent with the foundation’s brand, familiar to existing users, and just as helpful to users as the mobile apps.

Improving Performance and Protecting User Privacy

Screenshots of the Objective Zero mobile app

Once we launched the web application, we turned our attention to areas in need of improvement in the mobile applications. We found that call functionality used a deprecated version of Twilio libraries that was slower to initiate calls than newer versions. We upgraded to the latest stable version of the Twilio libraries to improve call performance and reliability.

There were also intermittent issues with push notifications failing to be received on mobile devices. Push notifications are an important part of the handshake process for initiating calls and notifying ambassadors when users are looking for someone to speak with. We made multiple enhancements to server- and client-side handling of push registration and delivery to ensure users can depend on their notifications always going through.

Across the entire Objective Zero platform, we have implemented improvements to bolster usability, safety, and security. These incremental changes lead to users feeling safer and more satisfied with interactions on the platform.

"They always keep me informed at every step of the process."

Betsey Mercado, Executive Director, Objective Zero Foundation

Increased Adoption and Confidence in the Platform

Our work on the web app and the rest of the platform was deemed a success. Objective Zero experienced a 40% increase in registered users during the first year of the web app’s launch.

Our ongoing support and maintenance of the entire platform supported Objective Zero’s continued success. Performance optimizations and privacy enhancements contributed to an overwhelmingly positive response from Objective Zero’s users. The foundation surveyed their users to understand how they felt about their experience with the platform. 100% of survey respondents stated that they felt safe using the app and that their privacy was respected by Objective Zero.

40% year-over-year user growth

45% increase in volunteers

100% of users feel safe

100% of users feel that their privacy is respected

Mission-Critical Support and Maintenance

While Objective Zero had an approved budget for developing the web app, they had longer-term needs that were less predictable. Much of the foundation’s funding for software development comes from grant awards. Grants bring bursts of work that had been a challenge for Objective Zero’s previous development firm. The previous firm did not always have scheduled availability to support sudden time-sensitive work related to newly awarded grants. Objective Zero did not have the certainty of being awarded any particular grant, making it difficult to commit to new work prior to a grant award. This left both parties with an unclear picture of when new work might be scheduled and completed.

In between grant awards, there is a continuous need to monitor the production platform and ensure veterans receive the support they need. This need for continuous support is not a significant amount of work but it is important. The sporadic and low-frequency nature of support work also presented scheduling challenges.

We wanted to help Objective Zero address both of these problems with a long-term support agreement. Objective Zero didn’t always know which grants they might be awarded, but they knew they would win some of them. They also identified what work could be performed on a longer or more permissive timeline. This information gave us a picture of the approximate amount of work we could expect over a year.

We proposed a support agreement with a minimum amount of committed hours that justified scheduling a developer part-time year-round. The developer would address production support issues and steadily work on tasks that were needed but not very time-sensitive. This approach ensured that our developer always had time allocated to respond to critical issues. It also ensured that Objective Zero would see regular progress on their platform’s new features throughout the year.

When grants were awarded with time-sensitive requirements, we simply shifted lower-priority work to meet higher-priority deliverable milestones.

This support model works well for Objective Zero. Their team now has the support they need throughout the year, with a developer always ready to assist them at a moment’s notice.

"Twin Sun relays the process of app development to us clearly even if we don’t have any technical skills — this sets them apart. No other developer I’ve worked with has broken down their technical language in the way that Twin Sun does."

Betsey Mercado, Executive Director, Objective Zero Foundation

Adding new capabilities to better serve others

As our partnership continues, Twin Sun and Objective Zero are working on new ways to extend the reach of Objective Zero’s work to others in need. Together, we have created a white-label platform for use in other areas outside of military communities. Objective Zero’s partners in tribal governments are already putting the platform to good use.

Native American youth are at higher risk than the general population for suicide. The white-label platform connects at-risk youth in tribal communities to Native American counselors and other mental health resources.

"They’ve been a truly fantastic resource for us, and we’re a better organization with better services and impact because of them."

Betsey Mercado, Executive Director, Objective Zero Foundation

Read more about our relationship with Objective Zero in Betsey’s review on Clutch.