App development process
PeerPAL is a specially programmed app that was created as part of the project. In order to develop a user-friendly and intuitive app, with the involvement of the target group, a focus group was used. The target group, people with aphasia, was given an active role in the design of the app. Through a discussion that is as divergent as possible, weak points of the app should already be identified and remedied in the development process. The content of the focus group served both to address questions about the technical implementation and to discuss the design and content of the app. To launch the research project "Peer-to-peer support: digital networking in aphasia to improve quality of life", a virtual design thinking workshop (Fig.1), offered by TRIO (Transfer und Innovation Ostbayern), was held on four mornings in January 2021. Based on feedback, the prototype (Fig.2) was revised and further developed.
The resulting smartphone app was then tested by people with aphasia in everyday life as part of a feasibility study and then revised again. The final revised version (Fig. 3+4) is to be tested in a comprehensive efficacy trial in an intervention study in a waiting group design with follow-up tests after three months.
The app was programmed by the technical staff of the project. It will be published as open source software after the project period in order to give companies and developers the opportunity to further develop the app both privately and commercially.