Star Behavioral Health Providers


Star Behavioral Health Providers is a non-profit organization that connects military families with mental health professionals. The website allows military families to search for mental health services, and provides mental health providers with specific training to treat military families. This project was given to us in our UX Design studio at Purdue.

When: August 2018-December 2018

My role: Project lead, interaction designer, prototyper

My team! From left to right: Kyle, me, Jessie, Juliet, Sneha, Megan

My team! From left to right: Kyle, me, Jessie, Juliet, Sneha, Megan



SBHP is an outdated website that doesn’t get much site traffic. Military families using the site say that a simple Google search is much more effective at finding mental health services because it’s more straightforward and provides richer information.


A personalized search experience that allows military families to find mental health providers who fit specific needs such as location, specialization, language(s) spoken, insurances accepted, etc.


The overall goal of this project is to redesign the website. More specifically, we wanted our redesign to:

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why does sbhp matter?

Military families suffer from high rates of of mental health issues such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety due to traumatic incidents in combat, or due to the deportation of their loved ones. SBHP allows military families to find a mental health provider in one centralized location based on their specific needs.


UPDATED sbhp gif.gif



Before we started designing, we wanted to talk to our users and find out what they found problematic with the website. We interviewed 2 military veterans and 1 wife of a veteran. View our interview protocol.  

Our team conducting a remote interview with a military veteran

Our team conducting a remote interview with a military veteran


Based on our interviews, we discovered that the 3 most important criteria users look for when searching for a health provider online are:

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Based on our interviews, we created a persona whose needs we referred back to when designing the website. Our persona also helped us communicate how our website would be perceived by the target population to our project sponsors.

Jonathan Fojas

Jonathan Fojas

Jonathan Fojas is a US Navy Veteran who is experiencing signs of anxiety and PTSD. He wants to find a mental health provider who specializes in these areas. It’s imperative that the provider accepts his insurance, is close by, and has experience treating military personnel. The ratings of the provider matter to Jonathan as they indicates the provider’s competence.


Heuristic Analysis

Just by looking at the website, it was obvious that there were many usability errors. In order to categorize the errors we found and prevent making the same errors in our redesign, we conducted a heuristic analysis using Nielsen’s 10 Usability Heuristics.

Most common usability violations found:

  • Minimalistic and Aesthetic Design: multiple instances of misaligned text, awkward spacing, too much content on one page.

  • Consistency and Standards: The website was ridden with inconsistent font styles and sizes.

  • Match Between System and Real World: The “tier system” which is used to organize search results is not intuitive to users.

content audit

We used a spreadsheet for our content audit and highlighted pages that we felt did not need to exist, contained redundant information, or could be merged with another page.

One section of our content audit. The rows highlighted in red were pages we wanted to delete

One section of our content audit. The rows highlighted in red were pages we wanted to delete


Our content audit helped us decide on a hierarchy for the pages of the website. We iterated on this based on information from our interviews and testing:


comparative research

Now that we had a good understanding of the process of searching for a health provider, as well as the pain points involved, we started to think about a user journey. We looked at websites that had similar business models to learn what works and what doesn’t.

The websites we looked at were United Health Care, Give an Hour and Zocdoc. For each website we identified strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities.

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initial ideas for search flow

We sketched our redesign ideas throughout the project— between interview sessions and after our content audit to visualize the ideas we had in our heads.

Our process for narrowing down our ideas consisted of us sketching individually, presenting our sketches to each other, providing feedback, making changes, testing individually, and then repeating the same process.

Here are a few examples of how our sketches translated to our wireframes, and how they are perceived by our persona, Jonathan:

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In this iteration, Jonathan is shown a banner image that represents the mission of the website as well as a tagline that communicates the purpose of the website. This format was similar to GiveAnHour’s website.

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Inspired by United Health Care’s website, we describe the health conditions to the patient as they are choosing a provider. If Jonathan is unsure about what his symptoms mean, these descriptions will help him better grasp his condition.

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While we later changed this format, we originally came up with side filters which was an idea inspired from United Health Care’s website. This way if Jonathan wants to modify his search results, he can easily do so on the same page.


Throughout our ideation process we did as much testing as we could, randomly approaching people and asking them to perform some tasks with our sketches/wireframes. You can view our testing protocol here.


  • Users appreciated the definitions for each of the conditions

  • Many users didn’t know they could select multiple conditions to filter by, thought they could only select 1

  • Some felt that side filters could cause the website to become too cluttered

Taking these takeaways into account, we made a critical UI change that we felt fixed “cluttered” look. We moved the search filters to the top of the page.

final design

After iterating, testing, and iterating some more, we were finally able to pass off our final prototype to the SBHP team who was very pleased with our work. Check out our design in this YouTube video.


Our sponsors at SBHP were overall impressed with our work and were excited about implementing our design.

We suggested some long-term ideas for them to implement as their website gains more traction:

  • Allowing patients to leave reviews. Looking at previous patients’ reviews is important to users like Jonathan.

  • A booking appointments feature. Jonathan wants a a seamless experience that doesn’t require him to switch to multiple websites to book an appointment.

  • An “account” system where both providers and patients can log in so that the website saves their information. This way Jonathan can come back to the website to check on his appointments.


What drew me to this project at first was its mission— mental health is a topic that’s really important to me, and being able to help military families get the support they need reminded me of my passion for doing good with design.

Being a team lead for this project felt like a whole lot of responsibility on my shoulders in the beginning. Slowly I learned the importance of shared responsibility, and how to encourage team members to take initiative and champion tasks on their own. I feel a whole lot stronger after this experience and hope that I have more opportunities for leadership in the future.