Relate: What Next?

Persuasive technology


About the project

‘What Next?’ is a new kind of online service designed to support separating and separated parents. The service encourages the user to take positive steps towards tackling the emotional and practical challenges surrounding separation.

Building on the principle that computers and technology can be used to help people help themselves, ‘What Next?’ aims to provide a valuable resource for the thousands of people who are seeking help to get through their separation.


Relate is the UK’s largest provider of relationship support, offering specialised counselling services for people in a variety of situations.

In 2013, Relate recorded over 50,000 unique visitors accessing their site who were specifically seeking help with separation and divorce. Relate recognised the need for a service that supported these families.


User-centred design was fundamental to the development of the site. We created a prototype early in the project so we could undertake thorough user testing. This established what users really needed; a simple, clear and easy-to-use site that points them towards relevant exercises and articles. People didn’t want intrusive requests to sign-up or to be bombarded with information.

The end result focuses on clarity and simplicity. Clear navigation guides the user, step-by-step through the content, gently nudging them in the right direction without overwhelming them.

At the heart of ‘What Next?’ is a planning tool. The user can create a personalised journey and experience by organising the practical tasks and articles most relevant to them, keep track of their progress and check items off their list. This feature encourages and nudges users to make changes to their behaviour and brings an element of persuasive technology into the counselling world in a way that has not been tried before.

To ensure that the information reaches as many people as possible, the website is in both Welsh and English. It is fully responsive, allowing access from any device. This is important because many people would be viewing the site on a mobile device: better for privacy, ease of use and ideal for people with limited time.

Behind-the-scenes, we developed a robust CMS to allow Relate staff to easily update the exercises, articles and other resources without technical assistance.

There is plenty of opportunity to provide feedback on the site. Relate is able to gather this information throughout the user journey in order to monitor (and then potentially improve) the effectiveness of the service.


Relate’s extensive experience providing specialised counselling services and Cogapp’s expertise in usability and developing new technology means that ‘What Next?’ is now able to help people in a revolutionary way.