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.
We have spent the last couple of months extending our networking and computing infrastructure into the cloud through the formation of the Digital Application Network (or DAN for short).
The DAN sits across the top tier cloud providers (Azure, AWS and GCP) and is interconnected through an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB). This service bus provides us with the means to connect systems in a secure and scalable way. This backbone will allow us to integrate the software essential to creating a modern services architecture to support the Digital programme.
A key project focus is Digital Programme planning, and the replacement of scouts.org.uk. To kick this off, we’ve developed wireframe prototypes (functional drawings showing how our website would work with less focus on how it will actually look) in order to assess how it should work.
We have been testing with a Community of Interest group who signed up via our website. These volunteers have challenged our work to make the website as useful to visitors as possible.
Building on the work we did to launch the Skills for Life strategy and new Home Page, we have created a modern site design that clearly segments information into age group-specific sections. Through our research earlier this year, we know both parents and volunteers tend to start by navigating to the section that is appropriate to them.
While fonts and colours are dictated by our new brand style guide, determining how they translate into a living, breathing website requires a lot of work, with a focus on the accessibility of the site across devices and by people with specific needs. We’re really pleased with what we’ve designed.
What are we working on now?
We’ve translated a few of our initial sketches into a working ‘beta’ site that we will share with our Community of Interest soon. The site has been built from the ground up, using the Umbraco CMS and a Vue.js front-end. We are testing the CMS using live Cub section data and badge information and are testing a new API, allowing us to share this single source of information across future websites and tools we (and potentially others) develop.
We are starting to analyse content from the existing members.scouts.org.uk website, rethinking and reworking it as we bring it across to the new site. Once the new site architecture has been refined, this will be our main focus. Finally, when we have reached a critical mass, we will replace scouts.org.uk with the new website, and continue to chip away at the members site until we have completely replaced its functions.
How we can work together
Although the website will initially be in a closed beta, we shall be opening it up to a wider group through this blog once we have completed our initial testing phase. This allows us to focus on any major issues identified by our Community of Interest and fix them before a bigger audience gets access.
We’ll be working on lots of exciting changes to our new website so using the vast experience of our brilliant volunteers is essential to getting it right – if you’re interested in being a part of our website testing and becoming part of our Community of Interest, please do get in touch.
We hope you have a great festive period and look forward to sharing more with you in the new year!