New release: Group Finder and updates to Programme Planning

The Scouts beta website has been updated to include a host of exciting features, including a new sample Group Finder search and improvements to our programme planning feature.

In a new release, the website now gives visitors the chance to search sample data for Scout groups in their area, providing details on the sections run there, what day of the week they are running and contact information for the section leaders. Currently, the system uses ‘dummy’ information to demonstrate future functionality, and users are warned of this when searching on the site. This will, however, be updated with live information, and we hope this simple tool will be incredibly useful to new and existing members.

The programme planning feature has also seen its fair share of updates, with the inclusion of staged badges in the badge and activity search pages, and the ability to delete activities in planned programmes. These changes help to make the creation of interesting and varied programmes even easier for section leaders.

We’re really excited to be launching these new features and we can’t wait to hear what you think.

Digital Transformation Programme – Programme Sponsor

The Scouts are recruiting for a volunteer Programme Sponsor to join our new Digital Programme Board, overseeing the organisation’s Digital Transformation Programme.

The programme is one of twelve areas of work developed to deliver Skills for Life, our organisational strategy, and focuses on creating and supporting delightful experiences for our members and young people through simpler ways of working and improved engagement and information sharing.

From providing advice and guidance to our adult volunteers in support of them planning and delivering weekly programmes for young people, helping young people record their journey through Scouting, the Programme Sponsor will play a part in improving how we deliver technology across the organisation.

We have already launched our beta website, providing visitors with a more joined-up online experience with features such as programme planning and POR, all in one place. With the creation of our Digital Programme Board, we are looking to radically reshape the delivery of services we offer, and the Programme Sponsor will sit at the heart of it.

The Programme Sponsor will make sure the Digital Programme delivers the capabilities, outcomes and benefits that meets the needs of the Scouts and help us to deliver our strategy. This involves co-chairing the Programme Board alongside the Senior Responsible Owner, a staff member and ensuring that the interests and needs of members are represented.

The ideal candidate will have knowledge of Scouting, with skills in leading a complex programme and knowledge and experience of delivering Digital Transformation.

To learn more about this opportunity and to apply for this exciting role, please download the candidate pack here. If you have any questions or queries regarding the role, please email digital@scouts.org.uk.

Please note: the deadline to apply for this role has now been extended to Friday 26th July.

Beta website – planned maintenance

We are running some planned maintenance on our new beta website, which means the website is currently experiencing some downtime.

As our site is in beta, we’re working on updating elements of the underlying architecture to improve the overall user experience, which unfortunately means the site won’t be loading for the time being. Once the maintenance is complete, however, you’ll be able to access the programme planning feature with your saved programmes, POR and a slew of new features we’ll be discussing in our next blog post.

If you have any questions or queries regarding this maintenance or the beta website, please don’t hesitate to get in touch on this blog or email digital@scouts.org.uk.

WATCH: Beta website webinar

Last night, the digital team hosted an interactive webinar showcasing our new beta website, launching later this month. Hosted by our Digital Product Manager, Rachel Davidson, the webinar covered the website’s functionality and design, from the home page to our new programme planning tool.

For those who couldn’t attend last night, you can watch the webinar in full below:

You can also download slides from the webinar here.

WATCH: Technical infrastructure webinar

Last night, the digital team hosted an interactive technical infrastructure webinar. Hosted by our Digital Product Manager, Rachel Davidson, and our Solution Architect, Jeff Nayler, the webinar covered upgrades and improvements to the architecture underpinning our digital systems, namely our transition to the Public Cloud, our development process and lifecycle, and our future infrastructure plans.

For those who couldn’t attend last night, you can watch the webinar in full below:

You can download the slides used in our technical webinar here.

To learn more about our infrastructure, or to become part of our digital Community of Interest group to assist with future testing, please get in touch.

Analytics overhaul and a few stats

We have undertaken a full review and overhaul of our approach to website analytics on scouts.org.uk. This led to integrating Google Tag Manager, embedding our use of Google Analytics even further and using tools like Hotjar to help us better understand how people are using the site, and how we can improve it.

These are starting to provide some really interesting results.

We have already spoken about how we set up Google-powered search on scouts.org.uk and shared some of those results where we saw some good evidence to show it made a positive improvement.

We wanted to share a few more top-line analytics with you. We’ll continue to do this, especially as new features and products are introduced to ensure that we’re as transparent as possible about their effectiveness.

Having continued to improve the search, it has been interesting to see what the most-searched terms are.

Top searched-for items in January 2019: (Jan 1 – Jan 31 2019)

  1. GDPR
  2. Badges
  3. POR (policy, organisation, and rules)
  4. Safeguarding
  5. GDPR training
  6. Census
  7. Nights away
  8. Module 1
  9. First aid
  10. Beavers

As well as providing search information, Google Analytics provides information on where users visit the website from – this is called the Source of our traffic.

We found that most of our website traffic comes from organic search – i.e. people searching for Scouts pages on Google. Next were people typing the website URL directly into their browser, and third was where users had clicked links from social media on to the site.

Top traffic drivers in January 2019: (Jan 1 – Jan 31 2019)

  1. Organic search
  2. Direct
  3. Facebook
  4. Bing
  5. Yahoo
  6. Twitter

Google Analytics also provides us with information on what files visitors are downloading from our site. This is particularly useful for analysing how popular content on members.scouts.org.uk is. The three most popular downloads in the last month have been uniform diagrams.

Top downloads in January 2019:  (Jan 1 – Jan 31 2019)

  1. Cubs uniform diagram
  2. Beaver uniform diagram
  3. Scouts uniform diagram
  4. Adult Training Scheme overview
  5. Nights away form

We will continue to share insights on how people are using the site as the new analytics overhaul beds in and we get more data. We want to ensure that we’re being evidence driven in our approach to any changes or new products that are introduced. If you have any interesting analytics from your own Scouts sites you wanted to share, please share in the comments.

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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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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