Exploring our beta website functionality

Our new beta website.

This month we have released our new website. As we explained, this website is available to use while it is still in development. Commonly known as the “beta” phase, the release of software at this stage allows users to shape it as it is created.

Much of the work making the new website has been focused on building the architecture underlying our systems. We held an infrastructure webinar in March to share details of the work involved in creating a future-proof base for our websites which you can view here. We have also focused on delivering user-facing functionality in a few key areas.

Firstly, we have implemented basic functionality such as website navigation. As an organisation with thousands of members, our website contains a lot of information on a variety of subjects; ensuring it is easily accessible starts with designing effective navigation. That’s why we’ve made sure all content areas can be reached from a horizontal navigation bar with four categories – Be a Scout, What Scouts do, Volunteers, About us, with another link to our Shop.

We also know that, to best serve the majority of our users who visit our websites on their phones, our website needs a mobile-first design. That’s why our menu bar is collapsible, and the website is designed as a series of stackable columns. This means, whatever the size of your screen, our content is designed to be readable and font sizes are accessible.

Under the hood, we have implemented a new, future-proof content management system (CMS) which will allow us to effectively manage news items, badge and activity data and website pages through the same system. This has been developed to ensure we can pull data from this CMS to populate tools, creating a single source of truth for badge, activity and POR data.

Our programme planning feature.

Our programme planning feature, designed to complement your existing administrative tools, is also now accessible from the Volunteers dropdown. You can plan and save sessions and terms in your browser and utilise pre-made programmes developed using our activity content. For now, the content is focused on Cub leaders.

Beyond this month’s release, we have a whole host of features planned. We will be implementing site search, and a first look at the proposed Group/Section finder from the website homepage. We will start to migrate our fundraising and events websites in addition to adding more leader-focused content and member resources.

We are aiming to implement single sign-on (SSO) on the website, which will allow you to sign in using the login you already have. It will help us develop features like saving and sharing programmes and will give you access to your planned sessions across multiple devices.

Our long-term goal is to make elements of our website more self-service, making it easier to access the resources you want, when you need them.

We’ll be hosting a webinar on Wednesday 19th June to demonstrate features of our beta website in more detail. The webinar will start at 7:30 and last approximately 30 minutes. You can register for the webinar by heading to scouts.org.uk/digitalwebinar, where you can also add the event to your calendar.

In the meantime, you can view a demonstration of our website and programme planning feature here, and you can keep up-to-date with new features and releases by subscribing to this blog.

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.

End of year roundup

It’s been a busy year for us in the Digital team. More of the projects in the Skills for Life plan are starting to get up and running, and we’ve been planning in Digital supporting them with a clear, volunteer-focused direction.

As we head into the Christmas break, we thought we would produce a short roundup of what we’ve achieved this year and what’s on the cards for next year.

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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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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 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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