Finding support services near you (formerly Directory of services) weeknotes 17/01/20

This week, we’ve been busy trialling our chosen database, MiDoS, and analysing the results from our interviews and surveys with local organisations. 

Before departing for the slopes, Chris from Intuiti – the company that owns MiDoS – kindly sorted us out with a login to the admin interface. It is through this route that organisations can enter their details into the MiDoS database, ready to be pulled into any front-end website we choose. 

Meg and Winston tested the out-the-box interface and we are pleased to report that, with zero training, it’s very easy to use. We’ll verify this with volunteers from the organisations themselves but we couldn’t help having a poke about ourselves in the meantime. 

There are a few fields we want to tweak before we open it up to organisations and we’ll be working with MiDoS to configure those to suit our needs. And we also want to apply our own taxonomy to organisations, based on the services they provide, so that end users can find the services they need.

Our user research lead, Wing, has finished interviewing voluntary organisations large and small about their digital presence; and our survey on the same subject has closed. We’ve found that 90% of organisations (18/20) use their own website to market themselves and their activities, and many supplement this with Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to promote individual events. One of the two organisations that doesn’t have a website expressed a desire to have one, which we hope to address through the ‘upskilling’ arm of this project.

Only 10% of organisations (2/20) have an up to date entry in the existing iCare directory. One of them, which did not have its own site, said they did get referrals from it. The rest cited “lack of time”, “it’s not used”, “I can’t remember the password” or “I don’t know how to do it” as reasons why it wasn’t updated. 35% (7/20) were not listed in iCare at all.

We can conclude that only one organisation saw the existing directory as a key part of its digital strategy. What does that mean for this project? Is the directory dead?

We don’t think so. With iCare, organisations are asked to update too many extraneous details that they’re already updating on their own websites (eg opening hours, minutiae of activities). Many don’t bother, and end users have stopped trusting the information. Equally, iCare doesn’t provide sufficient information on what the organisations actually do and consequently doesn’t encourage click-throughs to organisations’ own sites. Finally, its front-end design tucks the directory right at the bottom and also fails to encourage users to browse through to other organisations providing similar services.

We intend to address these issues with this project and, with the benefit of Agile and continual testing, we’ll be able to make sure we stay on track. It’s also worth highlighting that one interviewee wanted a user-friendly directory that not only signposts clients to them but that they can signpost clients to.

One clarification following our renaming exercise. Although we are now calling this project ‘Finding support services near you’, this isn’t reflective of any potential name for the directory. It’s simply the working title of the project so that those involved can understand readily what we are trying to achieve.

We rounded off the week with a planning session for our ‘How might we… verify an organisation’ workshop for next week. We’ll let you know the outcome of our collective creativity in next week’s update. If you can’t contain your excitement until then, you can always distract yourselves with Megxit. 

Finding support services near you (formerly Directory of services) weeknotes 10/01/20

Happy New Year!

After a bit of a break, it’s useful to recap what’s happened before and why. So here’s a reminder of our problem statement.

In the last sprint of 2019 we:

  • Started to explore investment in digital upskilling across voluntary and care services in the borough.
  • Interviewed and surveyed organisations operating within the Well Street Common Neighbourhood to test the assumption that they will add to and update a single directory; and to get an idea of their digital confidence or any gaps in their skills.
  • Extended the minimum viable directory (currently a spreadsheet) to social prescribers, Hackney Adult Social Care 3 Conversations, Job Centre employment advisors, sexual health nurses and physiotherapists.
  • Ran a naming exercise, and we’re pleased to announce the new name of Finding support services near you that, in just a few words, encapsulates the point of the project rather than the underlying technology. This will replace the Directory of Services name in future weeknotes. If you want to learn more about the importance of naming projects, read here.

What’s next: 

  • Analysing the results of the survey and interviews with voluntary and care organisations, feeding back next time.
  • Transferring the data held within the minimum viable DoS spreadsheet into MiDoS and trialling with end-users within Well Street Common (including social prescribers, social workers, employment advisors, voluntary and care organisations and residents).
  • Continuing to gather feedback, adapt and test again.
  • Implementing the standardised voluntary and care services and local authority data structure led by Buckinghamshire County Council. Click here for an example of how this is being piloted by the Local Government Association (LGA).
  • Running a workshop to define the verification process and standard for organisations that want to be featured in the directory.

These weeknotes were originally written by team member Lucy Clifton.