A social network designed to solve the world's biggest problems.

For OpenIDEO


Sectors Served

Global, Social Network


OpenIDEO is IDEO’s open innovation practice, enabling people to collaborate and design solutions to the world’s toughest challenges. As OpenIDEO scaled, they realized that there was an opportunity to make their platform more accessible to a global audience using digital tools.


In just six months, we developed a full featured custom social network for OpenIDEO to test the ability to scale their program globally. This new platform allows OpenIDEO to reach more participants and engage global communities with ease.

What We Did

  • An icon representing code on a screen.
    API Development
  • An icon depicting laptop settings.
    Software Design
  • An icon depicting a code editor.
    Software Development
  • An icon depicting responsive web design.
    Responsive Web Design
  • An icon depicting a laptop computer working.
    Digital Strategy
  • An icon depicting a structured file system.
    Data Architecture


Once launched, the OpenIDEO community collaborated on the new platform to design solutions to large scale global challenges. Feedback was gathered from over 500 users over the course of one year. This feedback and the resulting set of data was distilled into an actionable strategic roadmap to help OpenIDEO better serve their community.

Multiple views of the OpenIDEO platform.

Finding Sustainable Scalability

The new platform allows OpenIDEO to facilitate collaboration with users around the globe in three different ways:

A dedicated space for location-specific communities to collaborate.
A dedicated space for distributed communities working on a specific topic to collaborate.
A simple event management system to facilitate bringing these communities together in real-time.
OpenIDEO can now manage local chapters and topic-based groups and engage the community through platform messaging and automated notifications.

What We Did in 6 Months

  • Designed and developed a custom social networking platform, complete with robust sorting and filtering functionality
  • Improved collaboration based on location or topic via social networking features
  • Created functionality to facilitate in-person and virtual events
  • Created a repository for organizers to add and catalog useful community resources
  • Created ability to engage community with rich email messaging and notifications

Post-Launch Enhancements

At CauseLabs, we know that the work isn’t done after successfully launching a digital product. We enjoy collaborating with our partners to continue refining the experience based on user feedback and quantitative data.

So, a year after the MVP platform launch, feedback was collected from users amounting to a laundry list of enhancements for the team to explore. Together during a virtual workshop, OpenIDEO and CauseLabs went deep into detail on each potential enhancement and grouped our findings into an actionable roadmap.

The main takeaway of the workshop was that the platform could benefit from an improved user experience and design refinements. It became apparent that we ran the risk of “losing the user” with that additional new features if the core experience wasn’t refined. We set forth alongside OpenIDEO to redesign the user experience with this usability feedback in hand. The result of our work together is a more streamlined and consistent experience for the user throughout the entire platform. With the new base to build upon, we are excited to see the next round of features launching late summer of 2017.

Technical Details

OpenIDEO already had two separate systems: their Challenges platform (built on Java) and a homepage content management system, built on PHP using the Craft framework. How could we introduce a third system and have it integrate with the existing ecosystem?

CauseLabs selected the Laravel 5.2 framework alongside Vue 1.x for building out the Chapters application (alongside some custom packages) for speedy development, strong community support, and long-term maintenance. The app was configured to run on the Amazon Web Services suite of tools for easy scaling as well.

CauseLabs also worked with their existing platform service provider to come up with a single sign-on solution using Auth0, providing a centralized identity provider and authentication solution, making it easy for OpenIDEO community to move between applications as needed.

“I am proud of how far we have come in the past year. It's incredible to know that we have over 3k users all over the world sharing about their projects and creating events for social change. CauseLabs has been an important thought partner and ally in this journey.”

Luisa Covaria
Principal Designer and Strategy Lead - OpenIDEO

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