Big Society Capital
Turning a perception that things weren’t right into a progressive and achievable plan of action for a corporate site redesign
User research and strategy for an Investement for Good powerhouse.
I was working for NDP when they took over support of the BSC website. In advance of a major site redesign in mid 2015 I worked with them on a user experience research project to set the agenda for the redesign. I specified and carried out all the work myself.
Big Society Capital were created by government as an independent organisation that would both put together investment funds that provide sources of repayable finance to the social sector and champion the social investment market.
Big Society Capital works in a new, complex field that they helped to create - the social finance market. This meant it has to engage a number of stakeholders with diverse interests and knowledge bases - from the charity CEO who might be suspicious of finance as an option through to traditional investors from large multi-nationals trying to understand the notion of social returns.
The challenge was to understand the diversity of stakeholders and users, establish what they actually wanted to do with the website and balance this with the strategic aims and resources of Big Society Capital.
The site looked ok but there was a lot of anecdotal evidence about it being hard to use, 'findability' being a key concern.
As they generate leads in a difficult to explain area of finance it was also important to show them that a decision to act was the culmination of a series of online, offline and interpersonal steps.
I looked at several peer sites of Big Society Capital, looking for things they did well, or approached in a different way, to see if there were things we could learn. This audit covered everything from technical background issues like page download times right through to tone of voice and quality of infographics. Along the way we found the areas of strength within the current site, things that we could build on.
Using Loop11 I had users from Big Society Capital’s email list to carry out some ‘finding’ tasks andcomplete a survey on what they needed from the site. This led us to some insights about why the navigation on the current site was universally disliked.
I looked at Google Analytics for the current site and noted what people were searching for - there were certain pages and groups of pages that were taking the bulk of the traffic. Some pages that Big Society Captital assumed were very important were getting little traffic and high bounce rates.
Using representatives from each stakeholder group I ran user testing sessions, talking to the stakeholders about their perceptions of Big Society Capital and where they provided value as an organisation.
This qualitative work really brought out some of the key issues with the site. There was a considerable disconnect between what the stakeholders thought that the site should do and what users actually used it for. I made video highlight clips of all the users and an overall ‘highlights’ reel and presented this back to Big Society Capital along with top-line insights from the analytics and survey work.
Personas and key user journeys
I created personas for the key user groups and used them as a way of thinking about their pain points, what their day was like and what their communication preferences might be and worked through those wiht the web group.
From here we were able to isolate several clear and relatively simple user-journeys that would cover 90% of Big Society Capital’s stakeholders needs.
I broke these journeys down into small steps using user-stories and cross-matched these with the activities that Big Society Capital might do to satisfy them on a touch-point by touch-point basis.
A way forward
Research on its own is interesting, but it’s pointless unless you use it to generate a direction of travel for your digital comms.
Finally I distilled all this research into a single report that presented three strategic questions that I thought would set the direction of the new site - in answering them we would know which direction to pursue.
Along with this I presented three new ways to think about the site - organising principles that addressed the user journeys more effectively.
This report was then used by the Communications Director as a discussion document to present the work to their senior management team and CEO. We used the outcomes of those discussions to set the agenda for the new website.
I am delighted to say that they took one of the most challenging recommendations and decided to create a new site for the educational part of their mission. After NDP designed and delivered the new corporate site (now focuseed on serving their corporate and institutional customers) I moved on to help Big Society Capital define, research and deliver a new website for this vebture.
This site went live early 2017: Good Finance
The Good Finance project was conducted under the auspices of a steering group of key players inside the social investment space. The bulk of the on-the-ground service deisgn work was done by Snook and I took a more strategic role in overseeing the delivery of this round of research.