Melissa and Doug’s Life-Changing Mental Health Venture
Referred to by ABC News as “the Ben & Jerry’s of toys,” Melissa and Doug are known for their namesake toy empire. But what the world didn’t know was that Melissa suffered from a lifelong battle with existential depression and anxiety.
Melissa and Doug approached Corra with a radical idea: treating mental health shouldn’t be about feeling “better.” It should be about feeling everything and learning how best to process our emotions. This idea planted the seeds for their new mental health venture—a digital ecosystem that is unlike anything that has ever been done before. Melissa designed her own framework from the tools and practices that helped her overcome her own afflictions. She and Doug then came to Corra to bring this framework to life. In its simplest form, the objective was to help as many people as possible through their own mental health battles.
Together, Corra &
AN AMBITIOUS MISSION
The brief for LifeLines stated that they did not want to be marketed as gurus, there would be no fairy tale endings, and certainly no guaranteed quick-fixes in 90 days or less. Melissa and Doug believe true fulfillment can only come from within. Our intention was to map out that journey inward through content and storytelling.
When Melissa and Doug approached Corra, they had a manuscript of the LifeLines book and a vision. The project was all encompassing; Corra needed to create a business model, brand identity, logo, content strategy, design the UI and UX of the site, provide extensive copywriting services, and build a headless Progressive Web App (PWA) with complex customizations. The co-founders met with 15+ other agencies in their pursuit to find the right partnership. So, after landing the project, Corra had just five months to launch it.
CREATING A ONE-OF-A-KIND EXPERIENCE
With the same spirit, imagination, and ingenuity that designed thousands of toys, Melissa conceived of LifeLines, a digital ecosystem that aims to guide you on your path to self-acceptance. These digital product offerings take shape on four key pages: The Hike, Compass, Backpack, and community workshops.
Melissa and Doug challenged the Corra team to design a homepage that has the ‘wow factor.’ An experience that feels like you’re immersed in nature as if you are embarking on a hidden trail in the forest. We designed a page with subtle cinemagraphic movement that felt realistic—the sun shining through the tree branches, the autumn leaves falling in a vibrant pile at the bottom of the page. We wanted users, which LifeLines refers to as Seekers, to have a warm and welcoming first touchpoint with the brand, and to evoke a sense of calmness for an intended audience that is prone to anxiety.
The first time we all saw the homepage design we got goosebumps. I know I was brought to tears.
When a Seeker scrolls the homepage they’re followed by an autumn leaf cascading down the page – symbolizing the release of whatever has been holding them back.
As Cofounder Doug Bernstein put it, “It's the nuances, the details, and the thought that goes into LifeLines.com that makes it so special. It’s not something that you can just piece together from a template or theme.” And he’s right, every element was customized to perfection: from the positioning of the sun rays through the branches on desktop versus mobile, to the way the autumn leaf glides gracefully down the page, as opposed to a jittery zig-zag motion.
THE HIKE | A JOURNEY TO INNER SPACE
The metaphorical trail, also known as The Hike, is the centerpiece of the entire experience. Each trail marker represents a stage of a journey that consists of introspective prompts, video tutorials, poems, meditations, quizzes, and more.
THE COMPASS | TRACKING YOUR EMOTIONAL SPECTRUM
At Corra, we like to say, “you cannot change what you do not measure,” which encapsulates our approach to digital strategy. In that same spirit, our team developed a compass feature so Seekers can track their moods and identify patterns and triggers over time. The Mood Compass is intended to document how you’re feeling and help members realize that the low points in our lives are temporary, and although they may seem constant, there will always be variations in our moods—ups and downs, highs and lows. Seekers can personalize their Compass with different scenic backgrounds and labels.
LIVE WORKSHOPS | CULTIVATING A SENSE OF COMMUNITY
Creating a sense of community to support Seekers was essential. Workshops are a space for members to embrace their authenticity, engage in deep exploratory conversation, hear stories, and participate in exercises with Melissa and guests. Corra worked with dotdigital to facilitate these community workshops with email campaigns that keep Seekers engaged.
Every single person from Corra has felt the importance of what we’re doing, and really helped write this story with us. They have wanted to bring this to life with every bit of the passion that we have.
The mission of LifeLines is to help as many people as possible who are suffering from mental health conditions. To do this, they needed a technology solution that was scalable, mobile-first (to reach more people, more often), and highly discoverable with a low barrier to entry. Built on Adobe Commerce as a Progressive Web App (PWA), LifeLines.com doesn’t need to be downloaded from an app store. It’s searchable via Google. And unlike most traditional native apps, the full experience can be accessed on a desktop computer, tablet, or mobile device.
The LifeLines PWA can be saved to the user’s home screen for easy access. And as a Seeker returning to the site, you’ll be able to browse the app even if you happened to be on a literal hike through the woods with a limited internet connection.
I don’t think anyone has ever used Adobe Page Builder like this before. We forged our own path. I’m really proud of the team for rising to the challenge.
ARCHITECTING FOR THE FUTURE
Corra architected LifeLines’ technology framework and capabilities not for today, but for tomorrow’s requirements. This was a multi-phase project that blurred the lines between content and commerce. We created the content ecosystem first—an experience with mental wellness tools, resources, interactive prompts, animations, and social media app-like functionality—knowing that, down the line, they would require a transactional ecommerce platform able to scale with various product offerings, both digital and physical. Corra opted for a PWA built on Adobe Commerce utilizing custom, highly sophisticated Page Builder templates to deliver on that content promise. Melissa and Doug trusted that this was the right solution for their long-term goals.
The LifeLines PWA is built on a headless architecture which will allow the brand to reach more people in need by enabling new interfaces in the future (like a smart watch app to track your moods with their compass feature), essentially whatever their vision foresees. LifeLines can now innovate and expand with ease thanks to their decoupled front and backend. This approach means their team can avoid diving into the backend with every iteration of their site—preventing breakages, delays, and spending costly development hours.
Unlike most businesses launching on Adobe Commerce, LifeLines’ focuses were content and community. They needed commerce functionality, but selling products wasn’t their primary goal initially. The free content-rich experience was the main feature. Corra developed mental wellness tools, resources, interactive prompts, animations, and social media app-like functionality on an ecommerce platform. Our solutions strategists and development team pushed Page Builder to new limits.
Melissa and Doug’s formula for building a brand is unconventional. They’re less concerned with traditional metrics like conversions and traffic volume. The metrics they’re measuring LifeLines on are much more profound; yet far more difficult to achieve: how many lives can they benefit? How many people are no longer suffering through their depression alone?
In the first six weeks, Melissa has received over 10,000 letters from people LifeLines.com has helped. We’ve had tens of thousands of Seekers sign up from every continent. The site hosts thousands of participants in weekly remote community sessions. And Melissa’s memoir has become a bestseller listed on Publisher’s Weekly, Amazon (in the relevant categories), and USA Today. The launch attracted the likes of CBS, ABC News, People Magazine, Elle, The Washington Post, and notable Podcasts where Melissa shared her new venture. Corra continues to work with LifeLines on site enhancements and new customizations that will work toward their mission in the mental health space.