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Planned Parenthood is a national nonprofit sexual health organization providing services and education programs for at-risk demographics. LGBTQA+ teens are a focus for Planned Parenthood because of their heightened risk for emotional and sexual health issues.

Traditional outreach was going strong, but Planned Parenthood knew that digital outreach would maximize accessibility, especially for teens in hard-to-reach locations. Planned Parenthood envisioned a centralized digital community with resources for facing challenges and connecting peers, for at-risk youths everywhere.

LGBTQA+ Teens, in Their Own Words

Planned Parenthood came to Cooper for the workshop skills that could help make make the app—called Q Space—become real. During the three-week project, Cooper sized up Planned Parenthood’s needs, designed and ran custom activities, collected quantitative and qualitative information, and finalized a proposition.

Cooper’s exploration workshops invited LGBTQA+ teens (ages 13 to 19) to give a first-hand account of what teens want from an online support community. We engaged in eight different ideation activities that included collage, emoji voting, and creative worksheets. Each activity led to spirited, in-depth conversations that delivered valuable insights, uncovered in a day-long team synthesis.

We learned a lot! Our participants needed Q Space to make them feel safe and included by addressing their individual characteristics like ethnicity, religion, orientation, and pronouns. They also taught us about conflicts they’ve seen in the LGBTQA+ community and how they would prefer Q Space to deal with them, including their expectations for moderators and how the app could facilitate belonging.

A Model for Inclusion

Cooper’s final product was a full demonstration of a potential user onboarding process. A welcoming aesthetic and a friendly, inclusive interface ease the process of getting youth signed up and off to a comforting start. As a part of joining, we also designed a self-diagnostic quiz that intuitively helps teens identify how they want to use the app and connects them to the right tools.

This project’s biggest challenge was creating an outreach model for a product that doesn't exist yet. Because Q Space was still only a proposed application, Cooper’s task was to map out how it might work and prove that interest from the target community was strong. By learning directly from potential users, Cooper was able to deliver a model for an onboarding experience that served as a proposal Planned Parenthood could use to seek funding for future development.

Cooper’s high-level preliminary modeling approach showed its strength in kicking off Q Space. Planned Parenthood now has a running start towards its goal of creating a fun, safe space for LGBTQA+ teens everywhere to come together in solidarity.

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