Redefining FREEDom

FREED (First episode Rapid Early intervention for Eating Disorders) is an innovative evidence-based NHS treatment approach focused on early intervention in eating disorders in 16 to 25-year-olds. It is designed to give young people rapid access to specialised evidence-based treatment and support tailored to their needs – and to give healthcare professionals the training, protocols and patient resources to support early intervention in eating disorders.

Treating eating disorders is a race against time

Ulrike Schmidt

Professor of Eating Disorders, Consultant Psychiatrist and FREED Evaluation Lead

Since its launch in 2014 at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, FREED has demonstrated powerful results; for example 59% of FREED patients with anorexia nervosa reached the healthy weight range by 12 months (vs. 17% of treatment-as-usual patients). FREED has been adopted by a number of other NHS services and the hope is that the network will continue to grow until the FREED model is the standard NHS treatment approach. To facilitate this growth a new online platform was needed to raise awareness and promote help-seeking in young people, and to engage, educate and encourage more services to join the FREED network.

We were delighted to be appointed as the agency to help make this growth happen by redesigning their website, developing an online training platform and toolkit for professionals joining the FREED network and redefining their brand identity.

The old FREED logo did not reflect the positive energy and empowerment of their treatment approach and the website did not cater for the needs and expectations of their different users. The home page was dark and slightly ominous in appearance with no clear explanation or call to action, users had to find their way to useful content through the subtle primary navigation.

Old logo

Old website

Thinking outside the circle

We ran research workshops with FREED and their audiences to understand the internal and external perceptions of their organisation and the unique human value of their work.

FREED were clear that they wanted to retain the coloured circle from their old logo in the new identity, so using this as the container we used bold, kinetic typography to create a logo that breaks free from its container and a brand identity full of colour, positivity and energy. We wanted to infuse the new identity with a sense of uplifting hope; to visualise and articulate the empowerment of recovery.

Redesigning online experiences

Our audience research showed us that FREED’s two primary website users (patients/carers and healthcare professionals) have very different online objectives influenced by their mental model and perceptions of eating disorders. We ran a workshop with the FREED team to build a content object model to map their content into a system of flexible, reusable objects that matches the expectations and needs of their different users. From this integrated hub of content we build tailored and intuitive user journeys to achieve their objectives.

Enable young people & carers to:

Explore the questions they may have to validate concerns and understand the importance of early intervention.

Access self help resources and inspiring stories to understand the process and benefits of seeking help and treatment.

Reach out to seek help.

Enable healthcare professionals to:

Understand the importance of early intervention, the FREED model and network, and how this relates to the treatment of eating disorders.

Help patients and families by sharing information, guides and tools for early intervention.

Reach out to FREED for further resources and advice, and register for the FREED training platform and toolkit.

Objectives for FREED:

Improve the online presence and search engine ranking of the FREED website to reach and engage more users.

Encourage help-seeking in young people and their carers by providing user friendly information, resources and support for early intervention and FREED.

Educate, engage and inspire more services to join the FREED network..

Content object model from workshop

Refined content object model

The foundation of our strategy for the website is that the home page is no longer the starting point for most user journeys. We designed user-centric landing pages and content structures to deliver different experiences for patients/carers and professionals and enable search engines to offer users a more relevant destination. So the home page is a fallback to guide users to their appropriate landing page.

Delivering FREED for All

The young people that FREED is here to help browse mainly on their mobiles, especially if they are investigating their health concerns, so we designed a mobile first experience with a priority plus navigation system in the mobile ‘thumb zone’.

Our research showed us that young people (or their loved ones) usually begin with fact-finding research to validate their concerns about eating. At this stage they are not usually ready to seek help, but have a lot of questions they are looking to answer. We also discovered that most thought they would be less intimidated by an interactive experience rather than lots of information to read and interpret.

The FREED for All landing page reaches out and guides the user through a simple clinically directed Q&A module with the reassuring advice and friendly faces of FREED team members. Each question is answered with clinical explanations, inspiring quotes, relatable real life stories, self help tools and next steps or related questions. This fluid, interactive journey enables the user to stay in their comfort zone whilst understanding the risks of eating disorders, the importance of early intervention and the FREED model.

It was clear that seeking help is a huge psychological step in the journey to recovery from an eating disorder. Many thought that help options can seem limited and daunting, and some may feel that they don’t deserve help or are not ready to seek help. Understanding what help involves and how to find the right help and support is key to helping young people make this leap of faith.

We designed a simple three-choice Help & Support module to give users a friendly step-by-step guide to the practical and emotional steps to get the help and support they need, and feel ready to use. Users can access this module at any point in their journey and quickly discover their support options and if they live in a FREED service area.

Delivering FREED for Professionals

For healthcare professionals work related online browsing, sharing and training is usually done on a laptop or larger device, so we wanted to deliver them a more data rich desktop experience.

The FREED for Professionals landing page is an information hub providing easy access to everything they need to quickly understand the science, structure and benefits of FREED. From this starting point professional users can contextually navigate through introductory videos, evidence and research data, case studies, tools and network information for a seamless learning experience.

The interactive FREED Network Members map provides mobile and desktop users with a simple geographical overview of the network with associated services, team members and contact details.

A key objective for professional users is to share helpful resources with their patients; the FREED for Professionals landing page features guides and inspiring stories for patients and carers with easy one-click sharing, as well as guides and stories for healthcare professionals. These free-to-use resources aim to give users entry level access to FREED and the evidence-based inspiration to register for the professional training and toolkit to adopt the FREED model.

Visit the FREED website

It was a pleasure to work with 3Men². They guided us through every step of the website design and build process and took time to research and plan what our website needed to do, and who our different target audiences would be. Despite our team being based in London they kept us up-to-date all the way through and were always accessible if we had queries or needed to discuss the project. They also helped us develop a new brand look and logo, and new resources to complement the website. The end result is a website that we love, which performs above and beyond our initial hopes and is simple for us to manage. We have received positive feedback from the young people we work with too. Thank you!

Karina Allen
Senior Clinical Psychologist and FREED Network Lead

Delivering the FREED Professional Training & Toolkit

Following the website launch, the FREED Professional Training Platform and Toolkit are now under construction. Professional users will be able to register online through the website and be approved to undertake the online training course. On successful completion of the course they will be issued with the Professional Toolkit to adopt the FREED model and apply for their service to become part of the FREED network.

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