Best Buddies

Best Buddies - Social Applications for An Inspiring Organisation

Polidea provided iOS and Android apps for members of Best Buddies' school programs, connecting friends and social groups all over the world.

Project scope







Bringing together people and communities is the first intend of any social media platform. However, when it involves a non-profit organization and a Positive Tech mission behind it—it makes a tech project so much more special. This is why we were extra excited to team up with Best Buddies to design and develop their iOS and Android apps.

The app allows for members to exchange photos within their local organizational units (called chapters), organize meetups using the built-in calendar and report on their monthly activity via Friendship Updates.

Best Buddies offices can use the app to share public updates and their users’ stories with all the members as well as the public, connecting Best Buddies across the country. Members can connect not only via the app, but also in real life whether it’s a group integration or a regular meeting with their assigned ‘best buddy’.

Bill Maurer

Director of Online Programs,Best Buddies International
I think that what made this particular collaboration very successful was a holistic approach taken by Polidea towards the design process and towards developing the app.


Best Buddies was founded in 1989 by Anthony Kennedy Shriver to end the isolation of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). The app is intended for the members of Best Buddies’ programmes, who build one-to-one friendships and social groups across all of the US and the entire world. Our designers were able to experience the Best Buddies spirit at their annual Leadership Conference and infuse the positivity and enthusiasm into the app’s design.



The team on Polidea’s side collaborated and communicated regularly with the Best Buddies HQ in Miami to make sure the app was meeting the organization’s needs.

The project started out with a week of first-person user research conducted by our Creative Team (now, Utilo—Polidea’s design studio) at Best Buddies Leadership Conference at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. They did a mix of quality user research:

  • in-depth 1:1 interviews with staff about their pain points and dreams
  • group conversations about opportunity areas
  • surveys with students about their social media habits and their expectations of a modern charity
  • workshops with student representatives to understand the ins and outs of the Friendship programme
  • Best Buddies’ 1:1 matching endeavor


Head of Design
Best Buddies is an incredible non-profit organization. I’m very proud that Polidea’s team had a chance to design and develop their mobile platform to help create an even more tight-knit community and connect Buddies across different states and chapters.

The research findings were put in the Research Summary report, which outlined the challenges and opportunities, including areas beyond a mobile app concept. We verified the results with the client’s ideas and goals and came up with the final concept.

Starting with Lo-fi prototypes, Utilo built its way up to the final wireframes and visual design, which was based on the client’s visual brand book.



Technologically, the project was equally interesting. It was definitely a challenge to deliver the Best Buddies Android app—it was launched a few months after the successful release of the iOS version. The process of adapting it to Android was a great experience for our engineers, especially when it comes to applying the cross-platform technology.

The entire application ecosystem was based on JavaScript—the backend relies on node.js, while the iOS was built using React Native (you can read more about the benefits of this framework here). While React Native allows for a smooth transition, there is always a need to adapt various elements of the app. We’ve had only good experiences with these frameworks, as they allowed the development team to collaborate very closely, consult and brainstorm with each other on many more issues than would have been possible with conventional technologies.


Lead Software Engineer
Building social networks from scratch is always a challenge. Fortunately, this project gave us the right motivation of doing something good, so it’s even more rewarding to see it take off now.


The biggest challenge of the project was the integration with the existing members’ database and making sure that tens of thousands of users find the experience seamless and familiar. Additionally, since the app is intended for younger target groups, it meant diving into the world of online social interactions and learning the customs of Generation Z.

We are really excited to have both apps out in the market and serving the great goal of Best Buddies organization. Being a part of such a community-driven project that embodies the concept of Positive Tech was truly a dream come true!

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