We've spent the last couple of months starting a two year programme of work to redevelop the Girlguiding website. Here's an update on what's been done so far, and some insights into what's worked well.
Girlguiding is the UK's biggest youth organisation and has been in existence since 1910. Around 1 in 4 eight year old girls in the UK are currently Brownies. With over 500,000 girls and young women in membership and at least 100,000 volunteer leaders, it's a massive organisation. But it's organisations like this – that have a big impact on young people's lives – with which we absolutely love working.
Our first priorities
Historically Girlguiding has neglected its spend on central websites, so our first task is to play catch up and bring its digital platform up to date. We've been tackling this deficit by putting in place a content strategy and supporting content management system. Here are some tips from our experiences:
- Be open and listen to feedback 24/7. Don't expect everyone to be onboard. Inspired by Hello TED we set up a project blog to share the vision, trying to win the hearts and minds of members around the country from the outset. It was an immediate success with over 300 volunteers signing up to get involved in the project and hundreds of comments posted in the first few weeks.
- Explain process to everyone from top to bottom. We used the project blog to explain concepts new to everyone, including an Agile approach to software development and content strategy. We also held internal kick off meetings with different departments within Girlguiding, providing more detail face-to-face.
- Make sure you understand the organisation's strategic goals first. We spent time with the Senior Management Team to draw up a mission statement for all content encapsulated in a single sentence –making sure the vision can be cascaded down.
- Don't skimp on developing personas by assuming you know everything about potential website users. We spent two months doing workshops, research and consulting experts to help define the website's target audiences, meet consensus on definitions and share knowledge. This included over forty-five hour of phone interviews with a range of stakeholders.
- Prioritise! You can't do everything at once. We helped Girlguiding pick the top 12 personas to focus on for the first year. This will be reviewed next year.
- Get off your backside! In the last couple of months we've taken fifty-five train journeys. Besides, Girlguiding HQ in London, we were also asked to visit Cornwall, Edinburgh and Sheffield.
- Work hard. So far we've held twenty-one workshops around the country making people work hard to share their ideas, having as much fun as possible at the same time.
- Have fun and be creative! This is even more important with younger ones, but make sure you play games to encourage creativity. We do this by taking a "no-technology" approach to workshops, using pens, paper, picture cards and sticky notes.
- Involve the whole agency team. Where practical we've tried to involve as many Yoomee staff at this stage as possible. Not just the strategy guys, but get developers and designers out of the door too.
The next steps
The new content platform will be released in a series of iterations in September, October, November and December of this year. We're also moving on to the second part of the project, which goes beyond content and focuses on innovation – developing new tools to further engage girls, young women and volunteers on their journey with Girlguiding. We've already collected thousands of thoughts during a dozen ideation workshops around the country with 11 to 65 year olds – and will be making recommendations shortly.
In the meantime, if you have any questions about the project and our approach, please do post in the comments below.