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The Client

Pathways.org, a partner with the Shirely Ryan AbilityLab, is a nonprofit foundation that uses outcome-based research and tools to support each child’s fullest development. Since 1985 they have provided free, trusted resources to empower parents and health professionals in early detection and intervention for children’s sensory, motor, and communication skills. Their materials are developed by pediatric experts and supported by the American Academy of Pediatric findings.

Working with Vitalsphere has been one of the best decisions we've made. Instead of having to hire 3+ full time employees who may only specialize in specific areas, we've had access to their entire team of experts. This has allowed us to add features and designs that otherwise wouldn't have been possible. Their commitment to our work has also been exceptional. It is clear they treat every project as though it were their own business and want it to succeed. I wouldn't have any hesitation recommending them to any organization looking for app development.

— Nick Kerndt, Director / Associate Director of Digital Strategy

The Solution

Pathways came to us with a desire to bring their great storehouse of childhood development tools and resources into a more modern, interactive, and user-friendly format for busy parents: a mobile app.

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The Services

Mobile App Development
Design Pattern Library

Supported Platforms

All the information

All the information you might need to raise a child – made more convenient than ever.

If you’ve ever searched for “baby development milestones” on the internet, chances are you’ve come across Pathways.org. Pathways has produced one of the largest NGO libraries of parenting resources over the course of the past 35 years. You can find their print materials translated in over 27 languages in doctors offices across the world, and they have maintained an online presence since the early days of the internet.

However, their online content wasn’t “smart.” Their resources were sorted by age group, but not interlinked in any comprehensive way, and their website didn’t allow users to keep track of milestones or abilities their child had already completed. This made it challenging for parents to discover tools and materials most relevant to their child. In order to get Pathways’ content structured in a way that would allow us to generate “smart” content suggestions, we needed to create a custom content management system. We built a prototype CMS for Pathways using Notion, and worked with their digital team to help them sort and categorize their existing library of resources.

With this new blueprint, we were able to build a mobile app that surfaces recommended content across categories based on what the parent or caregiver has already shown interest in and what stage of development their child is at.

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Our Design Approach

We tailor our design process to each of our clients in order to ensure that they get the results and resources they need to succeed.

We tailor our design process to each of our clients in order to ensure that they get the results and resources they need to succeed. For Pathways, our approach included the following:

  • Style and brand exploration
  • UI/UX for their minimum viable product
  • Custom design system
  • App Store assets
  • V2 revisions

Style and brand exploration

Even though Pathways had a strong brand prior to working with us, they wanted to see our concepts for theming their new mobile app.

We spent a few weeks exploring UI concepts, color, style, spacing, and fonts and ultimately settled on an approach that blended a research-informed tone with a more fun one to resonate with their baby-rearing audience.

Design System

As an agency, we try to set each of our clients up for long-term success by building them a robust design system they can continue to use for years to come.

For Pathways.org, this meant building out a brand-new, mobile-centric set of components to elevate their users’ experience beyond what was possible on their WordPress site.

In order to get their MVP launched, we made a series of careful compromises that would allow us to launch the app quickly while still laying the groundwork for later features and providing enough value for their existing audience.

Design System

Tummy Timer

Tummy time is one of the first and most important exercises for babies, as it develops their motor, visual, and sensory skills. Since pediatricians recommend one hour of tummy time a day, we built a custom tummy timer that allows Pathways app users to track, record, edit, and view their baby’s progress over time.

Tummy Timer


Pathways already had a static library of activity videos for parents. Using the content management system we created for them, we built a database defining relationships among activity videos and other app content. When parents select an activity to try, they can see which milestones and abilities they are helping their baby work towards, as well as related articles or other videos they might enjoy.


Milestones and Abilities

Pathways milestones and abilities are supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics findings. To help parents track their child’s development, we designed an interface for milestones and abilities that displays how much progress their child has made relative to what’s appropriate for their age group, broken down by category.

Milestones and Abilities


For parents wanting to browse Pathways’ extensive library resources, we built out an “explore” section of the app that displays all content, linked by age-range and relevance, so that users can have the full breadth of information at their fingertips.


Multiple Child Support

Since many parents and caregivers have multiple children, we designed the app to allow for easy switching between child profiles. Each child’s progress and saved content is maintained separately, with no limit on the number of children a user can add. In addition, we developed the ability to adjust for prematurity and create profiles for babies who are not yet born.

Milestones and Abilities

V2+ and onward

Based on insights gathered from both user feedback and ongoing research, we are continuing to refine and develop new features for the Pathways.org mobile app, including:

  • Navigation updates
  • Multiple caregiver support with granular permissions
  • Onboarding tutorials and tooltips
  • Sharing functionality
  • Admin analytics
  • Single sign-on

Adding support for multiple caregivers

Adding age progress prompts

Adding support for multiple child profiles