Search: a quick update on performance

The new Google powered search has been running now for 3 months, so it is a good time to check in on its performance.

Whilst there are some remaining issues with search turning up out of date information, we have been steadily trying to remove the more common content that ends up polluting peoples’ search results. This is an ongoing job.

Generally though, the search appears to be working better for people. The ‘Search Depth’ – the number of pages visitors view after getting results for the search term – is down 12% when compared to the previous year. This is great news, as it implies that more people than ever are finding what they need through search first time.

The real area of improvement however is the ‘Search Refinements’ metric – the frequency with which visitors perform a second search immediately after the first. This is good news because it means that more people are getting the results they are looking for first time.

This has improved by a mighty 31% when compared to the previous year.

As always, please do provide feedback to us using the widget on the search results page so we can continue to hone the way this works.

Digital Day: building connections

Like the rest of the Digital team, I’d like to express my thanks to everyone who showed an interest in the Digital Day, and especially to those who attended the event.

Digital Day workshops

Together with Malcolm McKee and David Kitchen, both District Commissioners and members of the Digital Advisory Group, we ran several workshops at the Digital Day focusing on ‘Tackling Technology Together’. We thought about the three main themes of the Digital Strategy but quickly decided to focus on ‘Getting the Basics Right’, since there’s so much to talk about on that theme alone.

Both workshops featured robust, passionate discussions, which I think we all enjoyed! We weren’t just there for fun, though, we wanted to come out with some concrete proposals from attendees on two questions: what should we fix first? and how can we work together?

What should we fix first?

We asked participants what they considered to be the most pressing problems in Scouts technology and to rank them by priority. After considerable debate, the results that emerged were:

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Digital Day: Helen Murray’s presentation

At the Digital Day we were joined by a diverse range of volunteers, staff and partners to help drive forward our digital work at Scouts. Thank you to everyone who joined us.

On the day, Chief Digital Officer Helen Murray shared our new digital strategy and roadmap for the next five years. If you couldn’t make it, check out her presentation in full:

You can see Helen Murray’s presentation deck here.

Improving Search

Background: The evidence
From the beginning, we’ve had lots of anecdotal information pointing to searching as a major problem with the website. We’ve seen comments on Facebook groups and on the digital blog. The Info Centre often gets calls just to find information on the website that should be searchable, but isn’t. And we used it ourselves.

This is supported by quantitative and qualitative evidence. Members expect search to work: it’s a basic.  Search came up repeatedly as a critical user issue in interviews, with leaders quoting the oft-shared work around of adding “scouts” to their Google searches.  Improving search and making information easier to find were the most popular website requests from our recent survey of Leaders and Assistant Section Leaders.

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Digital Day: Building Scouts Digital with Raspberry Pi’s Olympia Brown

We’ve had to keep it secret for weeks, but with today’s announcement of our partnership with the Raspberry Pi Foundation, we are happy to share their contribution to Digital Day. If you are not already familiar, the Raspberry Pi Foundation is a charity dedicated to teaching computer science skills to young people. They are best known for the small and affordable Raspberry Pi computer. This basic and customisable PC is the best selling British computer ever. They also host seminars and workshops across the world to teach people of all ages about computer science.

They were a big part of Digital Day where we announced our partnership with them on the Digital Maker Staged Activity Badge and they led workshops about teaching digital skills. The Scouts are working with Raspberry Pi on several projects, from those workshops at our Digital Day to the full redevelopment of our Digital Maker Staged Activity Badge. The new badge requirements move away from computer science to using digital skills to solve problems, build resilience, help their communities and express themselves. The partnership is bringing a whole new set of activity resources that leaders can use with their group as well as innovative ‘How-to’ videos. The design of the badge has also been updated to reflect the essence of the partnership. Much more is to come as the Scouts and Raspberry Pi are working to ensure the badge is accessible to all members. Talks about training leaders and development of kits are happening, so stay tuned!

Below Olympia Brown, Senior Programme Manager for Youth Partnerships at Raspberry Pi, talks with us about our partnership, the Digital Day, and Scouting.

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Digital Day: Making a new homepage with and for volunteers

From next Tuesday, 15 May, Scouts.org.uk will have a new homepage. We felt that Scouting needed a new homepage now, for a number of reasons.

  • The previous homepage was not meeting needs of members or potential members (see below for further details on this)
  • The new homepage allows us to get a better understanding of how people use it, and to test ideas in order to make improvements – you will see changes straight away.   We will even take a few risks to try new things.
  • On our new homepage, we will start putting our research into use (further details on this below).
  • We want to celebrate the new brand with a fresh, updated homepage that better reflects where Scouting is now.
  • New digital products are a critical part of the strategy, so we need to get started straight away
  • Most importantly, we want to start working on how we work together, immediately. This homepage has important input from members who participated in our Digital Day workshop on designing the homepage.

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Digital Day: Understanding volunteering through research

In order for us all to build the right digital products, we must first make sure we understand current Scout volunteering by conducting research.  This post is about how we are using research to build based on your needs, how members were involved in what we have done so far, and how you can be involved yourself in the future.  I first presented this at Digital Day, so if you are interested in what happened, or if you want to see and share what you saw that day, you will find that here.
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Digital Day – Saturday 14 April

In my first blog post I mentioned that we had begun planning a Digital Day, and I now can share more information, including how you can attend.

Purpose of the day

We want to share with you our digital plans for the next few years, and get your feedback. We will share our digital strategy and roadmap, what we’ve been doing and our priorities, as well as getting you involved in what we do and how we work.

The day will be a mixture of presentations and workshops, intended to get you involved and contributing to our plans!

When and where

The Digital Day is being held on Saturday 14 April, from 9.30 until 5.00 at 65 Queen’s Gate (Baden-Powell House), London, SW7 5JS.

What you can expect on the day

In the morning, we will have a number of presentations from the Digital Team and a guest speaker. Presentations are yet to be finalised but are likely to include:

  • our digital plan for Scouting – the strategy and roadmap for delivery
  • guest speaker (details to be confirmed)
  • understanding our volunteers in Scouting – sharing our research
  • how we can apply technology in Scouting

There will be opportunities for questions and answers before lunch, when you will have an opportunity to meet the team and other attendees, as well as contribute to the work that we are doing.

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An introduction to Enterprise Architecture

In this blog post, I am going to explain, as best as I can, what Enterprise Architecture is, what it means for the Movement and why I am one of the first team members. I’ll start by explaining my role.

Rather than being the kind of architect who deals with the materials and design of a building, I deal with the building blocks of an organisation or ‘enterprise’. These building blocks are:

  • people (who make thing happen)
  • information (the material they work on)
  • process (the way things get done)
  • technology (the tools to get things done)

My role is to fix behind-the-scenes information, process and technology problems to help make working and volunteering at Scouting easier. My goal is to simplify the delivery of Scouting.

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An introduction to User Experience

User Experience (UX), which is new at Scouts, is about making the digital products you use as useful and usable as possible. The UX team, right now just me, is responsible for designing the right products well, and then continuously improving them. To do this, I work closely with you, our members, as well as other members of the team here at Headquarters.

There are three main parts to UX:

Research Design Analytics
This is how we determine what would be helpful and valuable to you. This is where we take the research and make it into a product, like a website or an app. This is where we evaluate how well the products are working for you and make improvements.
Hand drawn image representing research Hand drawn image representing products Hand drawn image representing analytics

These are a repeated cycle of continuous improvements (you might hear it called iterations). We don’t just make it once and let it go. We want to make sure it’s the best it can be, and that it changes with the times as needed.

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