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Introducing...your digital coach

One of the most important steps in the design process, if not the most important, is to listen to your users and prospective users—to understand their motivations, their pain points and their desires, and to dig beneath the surface of what they say they want in favor of reading between the lines to extrapolate their needs. It is then our jobs as designers and developers to provide a product or set of features that they didn’t know they couldn’t do without.

Our team conceived in response to non-profit program professionals suggesting that loosely defined program design practices and terminology, having related project resources in disparate locations, and difficulty sharing the learnings from their work (and learning from others) were impeding their ability to achieve the social and environmental change their missions seek to bring about. We imagined introducing a capability to the social impact sector that would not only enable organizations to increase capacity with their existing workforce, but also to streamline their processes and introduce a standard set of language—not for the purpose of overhauling their current practices, but to add a chassis to their existing car parts.

However, through additional research, we learned that simply providing this framework and set of standards wasn’t enough. One of our newest features—a digital platform coach (and no, not Microsoft Office’s Clippy from the 1990s)—was a response to prospects who indicated that they felt lost after registering and logging on to In other words, they were experiencing what we like to call ‘blank canvas syndrome’—or not knowing what to do or where to start when there are so many possibilities with no ‘lines to trace’ or a Bob Ross-type figure guiding you from one step to the next in your painting. They asked things like “Should I start with a results framework or a logframe?, How do I select the right indicators?, or How do I keep my stakeholders informed throughout our program delivery, not just at the end?”

Checklist to guide new users as they onboard to

Sample guiding step in the Whiteboards section of a project

We could have responded by creating and offering a suite of consulting services, including one-on-one coaching from our subject matter experts, but that can be expensive, slow, and cost prohibitive for many—not least of whom are small non-profits which would likely benefit most from using our platform. We could have also responded by providing a series of links to articles explaining the academic theory behind logframes and theories of change. But we know from our experience that people scan content online and non-profits—especially leanly staffed ones—can’t afford to take considerable time away from programming to spend significant time on research and technical training.

With these factors in mind and knowing that the expectation—for both the applications we use in our personal lives and at work—is increasingly, “if it’s not self-evident, I’m not interested,” our goal is for to be a self-service platform. So, we’re very excited to share that now includes a coaching add-on using Appcues, an application which is part of a category called ‘digital adoption platforms’ which can be used to create targeted and customized trainings and guided experiences to assist with onboarding, introducing new features, and keeping users engaged.

With our first version of the coaching add-on and as we evolve this feature, we seek to educate in a simple, approachable manner without being overbearing or forceful, and enable users connect to in a way that allows them to quickly sees its value in helping them to plan, do, and share their mission-critical work.


Post was authored by Adina Fudym


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