For the last two years, we’ve been working with London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster City Council to explore how we approach child protection in a more user-centred way, radically rethinking how technology can support children’s social care. Together, we created FamilyStory.

Last week, FamilyStory & the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea won Best Public Sector IT Project at the annual UK IT Industry Awards, a testament to the hard work and collaboration between three London boroughs, our FamilyStory project team and the entire FutureGov team.

Reshaping technology in children’s social care

FamilyStory is an open platform of accessible digital case management tools for social care, designed to meet the needs of social workers, partner agencies and families. By reducing the administrative burden placed on social workers, FamilyStory is increasing productivity by up to 30%.

Currently in alpha, it allows social workers and families to spend more time collaborating and building better relationships whilst ensuring families have agency and ownership of their story.

We have a responsibility to create technology that’s fit for purpose and supports social workers to work in a very different way. FamilyStory takes a user-centric, 21st-century approach to transform how the service can be delivered, improving the lives of families and young people and help keep children safe.

We’re proud that FamilyStory is transforming the way local authorities approach technology for children’s social care and we’re proud to see our platform and partner organisations recognised on a national stage.


FamilyStory wins Best Public Sector IT Project was originally published in FutureGov on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Original source – FutureGov

As Google starts to provide more and more answers and content directly in their search results page (SERP) anyone with website traffic objectives or measures in their digital strategy needs to take a fresh look.

While fewer than half of all Google results end with a click there’s still an opportunity for your organisation to be found, and to provide to your users, even if you’re not always doing that on your own site. But this is a big change – Google has been the biggest source of referrals and its now keeping more of those for itself. The pressure is on to look at how you’re being found, and work out how to get the most from your organisation as we move toward a time of zero-click search.

Zero-click search?

For a long time Google has been the main source of organic (unpaid) traffic to your website accounting not only for almost 69% of searches on the web, but 66% of web referral traffic. If people were looking for you – knowingly or not – it’s likely their journey started on Google, and if you’d done good work they’d see your web page listed near the top of the results and click on through.

But Google has increasingly moved toward providing answers to search questions within the results page itself, keeping people on Google and not encouraging click-throughs even when you’ve got a high ranking, well matched result. They are packing more info into expanded results – maps, weather, lifting content (like lyrics) directly into the result, showing definitions which mean you don’t need to click through,

The result – by September 2019 56% of mobile searches were zero-click, compared to 39% organic result search clicks. Some players have noticed a 30-70% drop in the referral traffic they get from Google. Desktop fares better (60% organic search clicks, 34% zero clicks) but if you’re traffic is mostly mobile that may not be a big consolation. And all that is before you consider how much of onward search traffic is going to Google-owned sites such as YouTube (spoiler: plenty).

So whether your traffic is on mobile or desktop, whether you’re competing with something Google itself offers or not, the shift away from referral is not something you want to ignore even if you haven’t noticed such a significant impact yet.

Search, traffic and your digital strategy

There’ll be plenty of organisations which have a digital strategy of attracting traffic to their website and doing business with them there. Only a handful of years ago when I was putting in a new digital approach for a public sector org we looked at Google as being the homepage for our website, and considered it the main start point for the majority of journeys. If I were doing the same now I’d need to think not about how people moved from Google to our site, but how Google presented the right information from our site directly in the results (and how we coped with that situation).

Whether you strategy is built on enticing visitors through social media content or making sure you achieve compelling search results it’s time for a refresh – Facebook’s algorithm frowns on links, and now Google displaying more info on the results page all contributes to your website moving further down the list of places online people are likely to go. So, what do you do?

The Zero-Click decision tree from Rand Fishkin
Credit: Rand Fishkin

You need to find ways to be relevant to search queries – this means continuing to really understand the search teams and questions, and the intent around them, which is best met with you and your content as a result match. You still need to be doing the hard SEO work to appear high in the results.

You also need to work out whether you can benefit from a search result that is zero-click, one where information is pulled through and displayed on the results page. If so, invest in making sure you’re high up and you’ve optimised that content, if not then it’s time to look for the keywords which still give you traffic and benefit.

And you need to continue to work out how you meet your user beyond search – that means if they are coming to your site you’re giving them a great experience and meeting their needs, and if they aren’t you know where else online you can reach them in the best possible way. Increasingly for the public sector this means bringing in thinking which is more commercial around search and findability online even if it doesn’t always mean finding a budget to get results.

Further reading – this piece and slide deck from Rand Fishkin on how Google went from search engine to competitor is full of useful info.

NEED A HAND?

If you need a hand with anything do get in touch. I’m happy to take a look at what you’re currently doing, share my experience to help you build something new, or come in and share some of my knowledge and skills with you and your team. You can get in touch with me here and find out who else I’ve helped recently here

You can find the next dates for the Vital Facebook Skills workshops I run with Dan Slee here – I cover what you need to know about Facebook Ads plus we give you the low down on the algorithm, creating great content, engaging in Groups, the purpose of Pages, and knowing when to engage. 

Original source – Sarah Lay

Last week we blogged about how we developed a more detailed understanding of the needs and behaviours of people who drink. In this post, we explain our approach to designing services that will support long term change.

A new way to think about user groups: a personal journey towards long-term change

We know that designing for a vast group of users is hard. It’s even harder when it revolves around something as complex as alcohol and drinking behaviours. 

Demographics and official scoring mechanisms are useful when creating user groups but in design, we can leverage people’s individual journey, preferences and attitude towards change. 

When thinking about changing, people largely fit in to 3 ‘states of mind’ about their drinking:

  • not considering changes
  • thinking about changing
  • trying to change

People will typically move between these stages throughout their lives, depending on personal and external triggers.  For example, they may have tried changing but failed several times and given up (so moved from not considering a change to trying and all the way back).

We created an in-depth journey map to show how people move between the 3 stages, and where Drinkaware has the biggest design opportunities. But we recognised that we needed something more simple to represent these non-linear, complicated journeys people were on.

Inspired by the famous design squiggle we came up with our representation of how a person starts and attempts to change their drinking behaviour. 

The path someone follows when trying to change their drinking behaviour

The Drinkaware team were going in the same direction, recently working towards an awareness-intent-action marketing funnel. The difference with our journey was that it demonstrated the messy reality of people’s relationship as opposed to a neat funnel. We also filled in detail around needs and challenges based on real conversations we had with real people. And we strictly used the language real people used which is one of the most important principles when designing services, content and digital products with real users’ needs in mind.

Showing how to move towards more user-centric design and content

Understanding the three states of mind

1. Not considering changing

People in this group are not doing anything about their drinking because they are not aware that they’re drinking too much or know it but don’t think it’s a problem. Sometimes people think they drink the same amount as everyone else. They might also feel that they function well, despite heavy drinking. This might be because they’re younger and don’t feel the physical aftermath of heavy drinking, or they’re older but are generally healthy and feeling fit. 

From a design perspective, people in this group don’t have a clear user need. They’re not actively trying to achieve anything in the context of their drinking. 

So Drinkaware can keep focusing on building awareness and helping these users take that next step.

2. Thinking about changing

Generally, during this state people are becoming more aware of their own drinking and questioning their habits. They’re trying to ‘confirm’ that their drinking is really a problem, and in trying to decide what to do, what ‘drinking less’ looks like for them.

This means they’re also noticing other people’s lack of drinking and becoming more informed about their drinking usually by looking up information online. Knowing that they’re drinking too much and being open to change is often not enough to do anything about it. Some people get stuck with good intentions only. 

Drinkaware can help people at this stage confirm that they need to change and how to do it in a personalised way.

3. Trying to change

Making positive changes that are sustainable in the long-run is not a linear process. It’s a cycle of disappointments and small victories. Typically people will have to try a few different things to figure out what works for them. Sadly, some people struggle to keep going when they’ve experienced setbacks. And might even revert to their old drinking behaviour, or worse, after several unsuccessful attempts to cut down. 

Some people don’t want to quit drinking altogether, they want to be able to enjoy drinking but they struggle to stay in control and stop once they’ve started drinking. For example, they feel like they need to finish the open bottle of wine at home or they just get carried away when out with friends. 

When I go out I want to be able to have a few drinks and not come home and want a nightcap. I want to get into the habit of having one or two glasses and then just stop

Drinkaware can support people to choose the right things to try and recover from setbacks. And they can experiment with different interventions to overcome specific challenges like staying in control.

The area of design opportunity

We complemented the new journey and user needs approach with a product review, several rounds of ‘show and tells’ with the Drinkaware team, ideation workshops, and group prioritisation activities. Together we realised that the biggest area for opportunities at the moment is helping people to  get past just ‘thinking about changing’ to doing something about it and keep trying regardless of setbacks. 

The biggest opportunity area is supporting people who are thinking about and trying to change

So what’s next?

We gave Drinkware a set of recommendations to help them maintain momentum. Some of these were bigger, long-term principles like mixing academic and quantitative research with more light-touch methods and adopting a user-centric content strategy. 

But we also agreed on specific things they can do to benefit their users right away, like fixing certain usability issues and running a couple of sprints to turn design opportunities into something tangible. 

We suggested running 2 design sprints to experiment with online and offline ideas. And we’ll be working with Drinkaware to help them do this ‘in-house’.

Our recommended in-house design sprints

If you’re interested to find out more about the way we do research, head over to our playbook.

If you want to find out more about this project, talk to Vita (vita@dxw.com). Or to hear more about our work in general, follow us on Twitter and sign up to our newsletter.   

The post Working with Drinkaware to help people cut down drinking (part 2 of 2) appeared first on dxw digital.

Original source – dxw digital

 

Genral_Election_Infographic_v6_page-0001

On 12 December, the UK will march to the polls to vote in an election that will decide the UK’s next government. We don’t yet know who our new government will be, but whoever they are – we have a message for you.

There are 11.9 million people in the UK who do not have the essential digital skills for life. Or – if percentages are more your thing – 22% of the population. That means that more than one in every five people you see on the street have either never used the internet (4.1 million of them), or they don’t have the digital skills to function – which means being able to do things like filling in an online form, attaching a file to an email, or uploading a photo onto social media.

Digital inequality is holding us back.

Communicating with friends and family, managing your finances, applying for benefits or for a job, or shopping for Christmas presents – everything is so much easier with a connected laptop or a mobile phone. Many of us take technology and the advantages it offers for granted. Yet millions are living without the benefits of digital.

People who are digitally excluded are highly likely to be socially excluded too. For example, 40% of those in the lowest income category (less than £12,500/year) are digitally excluded. There is also a disproportionate percentage of non-users across less-educated groups, whilst people with a disability are more than twice as likely to be offline as those without one.

There’s a huge digital divide in this country, and it needs addressing. In a world where finding a job is difficult without an internet connection, government services are becoming digital by default, and banking is moving online, far too many people are being left behind.

But we can fix this skills and inclusion gap – together with government, industry and communities. 

We’re calling on the next government to invest £734 million to close the digital divide in a decade, to sit alongside investment from companies.

And, since our research has shown that investing in digital skills for everyone brings a net present value of £21.9 billion, we think that £734 million is a small price to pay.

We need to work collaboratively across all sectors to bridge the digital divide. We want to encourage all organisations – however big or small – to make a commitment to support a truly digital nation. You can start by joining future.now – a new coalition aiming to coordinate action, especially by businesses. It’s an initiative led by Peter Estlin, who set up the coalition during his term as Lord Mayor of the City of London.

We are more than happy to discuss the steps we need to take to achieve this ambition. At Good Things Foundation, we work with thousands of community partners across the country. We’re the UK’s leading digital inclusion charity, and since 2010 we’ve helped over 3 million people improve their lives through digital, strengthening communities along the way.

Our Blueprint for a 100% Digitally Included Nation sets out some clear recommendations on how we can fix this problem – and we are determined to make this happen.

So, we have a question for whoever is the future Prime Minister: will you take on digital inequality, and ensure that everyone can thrive in a digital world?

Original source – Helen Milner

Monday 11 November to Sunday 18 November

Total kilometres ran in 2019 before the start of the week: 1292 kilometres

Distance recorded in my little tracking spreadsheet.

Feel free to follow me on Strava, where all my activities are shared.

The week in summary

Following the leg pain from the weekend Monday was a rest day, travelling up to Newcastle, doing some stretches after work, some reading, and having a catch up dinner with a mate.

Ready to go out on Tuesday night.
Ready to go out on Tuesday night.

During Tuesday my leg felt alright. I was at work for the best part of 12 hours and desperately wanted to get out when I was done. I got back to the hotel, had 15 minutes of rest, and got ready to run. While I’ve been staying over in Newcastle I’d thought about running in towards the city centre a bit, just down there Great North Road. My morning runs have been 2.5km in and the same back. I thought I’d give further a go and try out a nighttime street run at the same time. See how the leg is, trundle along the pavements, then turn back at some point. I also knew 10km would see me over the 1302km stretch goal for the year. The run was steady, a little ache in my leg, a couple of slow downs and stops for pedestrians and traffic AND MY GOD IT WAS COLD, but fun. 10km in the bag and 1302km done. It didn’t feel like the end, just a goal reached. Everything from here is super bonus distance. I did the maths for 1500km for the year. I then did the maths for 1000 miles for the year. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s just keep going.

View the activity on Strava

Wednesday: I woke up and my leg was hurting again. Maybe last night wasn’t that smart an idea. But I’ve done 1302km for the year so let’s not worry too much. Rest, you’ve earned it! Thursday the pain was a soft ache as I did a lot of walking around Leeds. And Friday felt like the pain had gone but despite planning to run at lunch I decided to give the leg an extra day off.

The dog, on Saturday.
The dog, on Saturday.

Saturday everything felt OK. Dog run day too, so this would be a gentle adder, nothing too strenuous or long. I decided to start the run doing the end of a local loop, heading into the woods to the canal rather than over the fields. I didn’t feel great to start with. Maybe having three days of nothing was a bad move. And the dog took me out about 700 metres in, hard through my legs, and splat as I hit the muddy trail. I dragged myself up and kept going. At Esholt Woods and there’s a couple of decent tracks to bounce along and the world feels alright once again once I hit them. Today wasn’t different. The sound of the water running along the trail added to the carefree feeling. I’m having fun, the dog’s having fun, let’s keep going… out to Esholt, out to the canal, and back. And suddenly 12km is in the bag. Nice! Later in the day the dog’s licking her paw and hobbling. I’ve hurt her again and all the guilt comes flooding back. Sorry, dog.

View thew activity on Strava

Guiseley roundabout.
Guiseley roundabout.

I’ve done lots of trails recently and not many roads. Last weekend on the Holly Hustle I came up against hills and decided to get some more hills in. So I roughly worked out a loop along Leeds Road to Shipley, then up Hollins Hill between Esholt and Baildon, turn at Guiseley, past Yeadon, touch the edge of Rawdon and down the hill to Apperley Bridge. It didn’t look short and it didn’t look easy. Let’s just head out and see how it goes. And it went.. alright. I didn’t feel particularly knackered early on like yesterday’s run, running along pavements took a little getting used to. It was early enough, it was grey enough (not too light, not too dark), and it felt fresh enough. I didn’t hurtle into the hills, taking several walks at points so I kept moving, and the views from Hollins Hill were mighty mighty fine. I also learnt there’s quite the queue at Guiseley McDonald’s at about 10:20 on a Sunday.

View the activity on Strava

Looking through Strava I found someone who did at least 70km a week. Life goals huh.

The week in summary

Number of runs: 3 (in 7 days)

Kilometres run in the week: 37 kilometres

Total kilometres ran in November by the end of the week: 79 kilometres

Total kilometres ran in 2019 by the end of the week: 1330 kilometres

The week ahead

Here is a grab of my planner for this month.

Planning for this month.
Planning for this month.

I want to make sure I notch off another 35km at least, a challenge with a busy week of much travelling and on solo dad duty at the weekend. 35km will put me on about 115km for the month, 1365km for the year and hitting 1400km by the end of the month just about doable.

Original source – Simon Wilson

Open data and open standards were given a welcome and practical revival in the early days of the Government Digital Service (GDS). This included the creation of the performance platform. It provided insight into the state of play of public services. Previously government often lacked the data to know how services were performing, or where improvements needed to be made.

However, as with earlier attempts to encourage open data, this promising initiative appears to be falling into decline.

Decline and fall …

graph decline-2According to the services data list, there seem to have been few data updates on the performance platform since September 2017, over two years ago – despite performance data being required by the government’s Service Standard. There are also some major gremlins – with inconsistencies between the data that appear on the list and data available elsewhere on the site. For example, the Dart Charge lacks any data on the list despite being available elsewhere on the site here. So too HMRC’s services appear to be lacking any data on the list despite also being published elsewhere on the site – the related HMRC Self Assessment data have not been updated since March 2017 and provide no up-to-date information on annual transactions. PAYE is in much the same state. 

The main performance services data list omits some major service data and much of what it does provide is out of date or incomplete. Or both. It also shows ‘775 services’, but the file available for download has only 734, with many of those blank or incomplete.

When I was advising the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee during their recent inquiry into ‘Digital Government‘, the lack of a baseline and open, reliable and meaningful data to assess progress and performance was frustrating. It made it difficult to assess progress against the definition of ‘digitisation’ provided by the Minister for Implementation, Oliver Dowden MP, during his evidence:

“I think that in general we have succeeded almost completely on digitisation in its simplest term, which is a digital interface. The challenge is how we ensure end-to-end digitisation; that is to say, that all the processes behind are done digitally and, in its simplest, it is not somebody taking something that is produced digitally, printing it out, processing it and then sending someone an email at the end.” 

Q.396

Meaningful service and performance data are essential and it’s important that the performance platform does not slip into further decline, but is instead rebooted, enhanced and routinely updated. As the Service Standard recognises, identifying the right metrics and openly publishing the data related to them can help publicly evidence how well a service is handling the problem it’s meant to solve, as well as informing decisions about how to fix problems and improve services.

Improving performance data

ideas smallThe performance platform was an important development. It made a promising start, but lacked features that would have made it even more useful. Here’s a few ideas of what I’d like to see in a revamped platform, drawn in part from the difficulties I encountered in collecting and analysing evidence for the Science and Technology Committee:

  • Establish an agreed baseline against which progress can be assessed. There never seems to have been a full discovery and published, objective baseline of what already existed at the time GDS came into existence – in terms of online services, government platforms, standards, take-up, etc. – and therefore no meaningful way of assessing progress. A baseline needs to be established against which progress can be assessed.
  • Mandate routine public performance data updates for all services. Ideally this should be an automated process and include the data being made available via open interfaces (APIs) in a standard format so anyone can access and analyse the data. As a minimum fallback, a quarterly manual upload should be an obligatory requirement of the Service Standard.
  • Agree and adopt a consistent, meaningful definition of ‘digital’. Even where a ‘digital’ figure is provided, it’s unclear whether this simply means the front end is digital (e.g. a front end digital / electronic form, service or information on a web page) or whether the entire service is digital end-to-end (as per the Minister’s ambition in his evidence referenced above). At least one digital service includes “automated phone” in scope. A definition is essential to enable progress to “fully digital” to be monitored, and to distinguish between the channel(s) used – website, via APIs (e.g. apps), phone, etc. – as well as an indication of whether they meet the Service Standard, including an assessment of a digital service’s impact on accessibility and social exclusion
  • Agree a taxonomy for the nature of a digital service – making a distinction between e.g. automation, optimisation, transformation – mapped against digital services to monitor and demonstrate progress, and the type of progress, including at the policy and operational levels. This topic is discussed in more detail in my co-authored Computer Weekly article ‘Escaping waterfall government and the myth of digital transformation‘.
  • Identify examples that break down organisation-centric services and span more than one provider. The services listed on the performance dashboard appear to all be operating within long-standing departmental service silos – and have effectively moved old paper service silos online. Where are the simplified, streamlined services redesigned around citizens’ and businesses’ needs rather than organisational boundaries?
  • Maintain a public audit log of changes and improvements. Many online services pre-date GDS and have not been fully updated with the Service Standard (there are examples of services even still using Flash for example). It would be useful to have dates showing when a service originally came online, when it was last improved, whether and when it passed the Service Standard, etc. Such records should include details of services that have been merged, or even removed, as a result of policy or other design improvements.
  • Include internal digital services too. Public employees are essential users too, relying on government technology on a daily basis to operate and deliver our public services. Develop a lightweight method of including internal digital services and organisational improvements, not just external ones.
  • Let users rate their public services. Routine public sector employee, citizen and business feedback should be a standard part of all services to help inform and improve them. These data should be openly and routinely published too.

… rise of a renewed performance platform?

feedback smallGood data, and routine user feedback, form an essential part of understanding the way services are operating and how they could be improved. The effective use of data lies at the heart of most modern, successful organisations. It’s important that the next government commits to the routine provision of open data, and re-energises the performance platform.

By updating the performance platform and ensuring better data that clarifies what has been delivered, the standards it meets, the quality of the citizen/business experience etc., it will become much clearer how well the digital government agenda is progressing and with what value to citizens, businesses and public sector workers. It will help enable inflight corrections and improvements. 

The performance platform and the open data that feeds it is an important function for a central team to oversee, helping drive visibility on cross-government progress. Without the publication of objective, routine data, it’s hard to assess how much of what has been done, or what is planned, tackles the real issues of improving policy, organisational and service quality. The performance platform is an essential tool in helping meet the challenge set out by the Minister in his evidence – of whether end-to-end digitisation is being achieved or simply yet more digital interfaces.

Original source – new tech observations from a UK perspective (ntouk)

If you’re a user of mySociety’s Democracy-focused sites, such as TheyWorkforYou and WriteToThem, you may notice a few changes during the election period.

Generally speaking, the sites just work. Sure, there are a bunch of tasks we’re managing on a daily basis behind the scenes, but none of those need bother you, the user. To employ a tired old metaphor, the sites glide swanlike, while under the water there’s some busy paddling to ensure that the latest debates, votes and representatives’ contact details are all present and correct.

During an election, though, that paddling becomes a bit more visible, and some services may be interrupted.

WriteToThem

You want to contact your MP? Here’s the thing: officially, you don’t have one at the moment.

Parliament has dissolved. The representatives formerly known as MPs are no longer allowed to refer to themselves as such, and their parliamentary email addresses have been withdrawn.

So when you visit WriteToThem, you’ll see this message where we normally provide the link for writing to your MP:

What WriteToThem looks like during an election

Note that you can still use WriteToThem to contact all your other representatives, from local councillors to MSPs, Assembly members, MEPs, etc — provided that your issue is relevant to them (you’ll see a short list of the types of issue each representative deals with, on the site).

If you’ve got something to say about the current political situation or a matter that you’d like your MP to vote on, though, you’ll just have to wait. Even if your former MP is standing for re-election, they’re most likely dedicating a lot of their time to canvassing, and of course they won’t be taking any issues into the debating chamber just now because Parliament is not in session.

Where it becomes a little more tricky is if you have a constituency issue you want an MP to help with. Perhaps consider if it’s something your local councillor/s may be able to help with instead — it’s always worth asking them, anyway. If not, and if it’s an urgent matter, it may be worth calling your former MP’s office, as some (especially those standing for re-election) will still be running a bare bones service.

If your issue is not urgent, then wait until a couple of weeks after the election. In particular, if you find yourself with a brand new MP they’ll be finding their feet, setting up staff and office equipment, etc.

TheyWorkForYou

You’ll see the word ‘former’ used a lot, if you visit TheyWorkForYou over the next few weeks. For example, the homepage generally has a prominent link to direct you towards your own MP’s page. These days, it looks like this:

TheyWorkForYou showing the woird 'former' during an election

And if you do click through to any MP’s page, you’ll see that they now have this below their name:

On the page where we list all MPs, you’ll see this factually accurate message at the top:

If you want a list of who the MPs were, it’s still there, you just have to click the link.

And then there’s one more thing: of course, as there are no debates taking place in Parliament, we’re not sending out Westminster email alerts (you’ll still get those from Scottish Parliament and the London Assembly, though).

When will everything be back to normal?

Our friends at Democracy Club collate the election results as they come in, producing data that we can then import. Thanks to them we’re generally able to update TheyWorkForYou pretty much in real time. So, when you wake up in the morning you’ll hopefully be able to:

  • Check who your MP is;
  • If it’s someone new, sign up for alerts so you get an email when they speak.

For a little while, of course, new MPs will have very little content on their pages: you’ll see a message to say that data will start to appear once they’ve done a bit more.

WriteToThem takes a little longer to get back up to speed: that’s because we need to import all the MPs’ email addresses, and these can take a while to come through. If we’re using an official parliamentary email address, experience shows that they may not even be set up by Parliament for a short while.

So please be patient — as we mentioned earlier, it’s probably best to wait a couple of weeks before contacting your brand new MP in any case.

Meanwhile…

While mySociety sites are fully operational in the periods between elections, there are other organisations who swing into action and do their best work during this time.

So here are a few things you can do, thanks to those other orgs, while you wait for mySociety’s democracy services to return to normal.

  • Visit WhoCanIVoteFor and WhereDoIVote from Democracy Club to discover who your local candidates for the General Election are, what they stand for, and where to find your nearest polling station.
  • Upload scans of the political mailouts coming through your door to ElectionLeaflets, and help build a permanent archive of promises that elected representatives can be held to account for further down the line.
  • Get the Who Targets Me extension on your browser to see clearly who is behind the political ads you’re being served on Facebook.

And finally: if you have questions about the whole electoral process, read the beginner’s guide to the UK General Elections we put together in 2017. While the names and dates have changed since then, the facts are still the same.

Image: Reproduced with the permission of Parliament

Original source – mySociety

When speaking to people about Facebook Ads one of the questions I get asked the most is ‘what should my budget be?’.

The average small business spends between $1000-$2000 per month on Facebook Ads but minimum spend is just £1 per day so even the most frugal of budgets can afford to consider it in their campaign mix.

Starting from this minimum to try it out, and test what works is definitely a good first port of call when adding Ads to your campaign, but setting a budget beyond this means understanding how Facebook Ads work best for you. First let’s set the scene with some benchmarking.

Average costs for Facebook Ads

One place to start getting a feel for budget is by looking for benchmarks in similar industries. This table by Wordstream shows the 2019 benchmark for cost per click on Facebook Ads – the nearest category to the public sector is the People and Society grouping which is $2.01 (or around £1.56 per click).

Looking across the categories we can see this CPC rate comes somewhere in the middle – finance is highest with an average CPC of $3.89, and food and drink the lowest at $0.42. Knowing this and looking across the estimated size of your target group you can start to get a feel for how many of them you can reach (and hopefully entice to click on your Ad) with the budget you have available.

It’s worth checking out the full post from Wordstream here.

Get your content right

Before moving to Ads it’s worth taking a good look at what is working for you already, and doing some work on defining your target audience really clearly.

However far your budget will stretch putting money down on poor content or something mis-aligned with your audience won’t magically generate success. You need a great idea of your audience and what works for them EVEN when you have cash to splash.

This is where boosting posts from the Page can work well for you – testing out what resonates and gets results against what doesn’t. You can improve your content while also starting to reach new people. And that’s the first type of Ad and Ad spend we’ll look at.

Facebook for new audiences

There’s a load of people who already Like your page, if you’re content is good they perhaps even still see it. But how do you reach beyond this and get to the people who aren’t aware of you, or aware of your relevance to them?

You can do it through Boosting posts from your page to increase reach and engagement – and this is perhaps the type of Ad you’ve already tried on Facebook. As little as £1 a day and you can start to grow that audience and raise awareness, so a budget of £30-£50 a month to boost a handful of Posts and see what works for you.

Think of Facebook as an amplifier – find the right message for the right people, put a bit of money behind it and Facebook will help you reach more people who are interested in what you’ve got. The wrong thing, the wrong people and you’ll still see tumbleweeds – just ones which drag your money away with them this time.

Facebook for a target audience

Facebook knows loads about us all – not only the stuff we actively tell it on our profile and in our interactions on the network but from stuff we’re doing across the wider web (and in other, creepier ways too). This means there is a huge database of potential for those looking to advertise on the network and you can use that too.

Through Business or Ads Manager you can build a more detailed target audience than on Boosted posts, not only looking at the things people have put in their profile (job description, location, demographics) but also on their life stage, and other services, website and organisations they’ve looked at. You can also exclude people who might broadly match who you’re looking for but aren’t quite right in some way (people travelling through your location rather than living there, for example).

With these people you want to make them aware of you, plus hopefully get them to take an action such as Liking your Page, or visiting your website so you can tell them more. Spend a third of your overall Ads budget here – but make sure your Ads content and the pages on your site you’re sending them to are spot on.

Facebook for remarketing

Once you’ve started to see what content works and grow your audience via Boosted posts, plus get the right people interested and aware of you through targeted Ads, it’s time to think about how to keep people moving toward signing up or taking a desired action with you (that could be completing a form, taking part in a consultation, booking an event – actions with your organisation rather than engagement actions on Facebook).

Facebook works great for remarketing – reaching people who’ve already visited your website, viewed a video, or interacted with you in some way. They’re already warmed up to you (they’re aware of you) and so seeing an Ad about something they’ve already shown interest in is likely to land better with them and for you than coming at people cold. Knowing who these people are who’re already engaging with you can help you set your budget too.

For this activity head into Business or Ads Manager and you can start a basic budget at £1 for every 100 monthly visitors to a relevant web page, or £1 for every 100 opens on a relevant mailing list.

So, what’s my Facebook Ads budget?

The basic but not incredibly helpful answer is that your budget can go from that £1 a day minimum to as big as you like.

The more practical answer is to think about different approaches to your target audience, the different types of Ad you need to set up to make a successful approach, and then assign a budget to each of those activities.

  • for reaching new people and raising awareness consider boosting Posts from your Page. Start your budget at £30-£50 per month to boost a few Posts and work out what works best for reach and engagement with your desired audience
  • for remarketing to people who’ve already interacted with you in some way (even a passive way such as visiting your website) consider a starting point of £1 a day for every 100 monthly visitors, or 100 opens on a relevant mailing list. Scale up or down depending on the result you’re looking for and budget available.
  • for your target audience consider a starting point of a third of your paid campaign budget. If you’re spending £50 a month on awareness Ads on Page, and (say) £10 per day for remarketing to your 1000 monthly visitors, then add on one third of that spend to your overall budget for targeting a custom audience based on Facebook behaviour and insight (in this example £116).

In this example your overall budget for a month would be £466 on Facebook Ads. You could easily scale that up or down, or focus Paid activity only toward one audience stage, but it gives you an idea of where to start your budget estimations from.

Need a hand?

If you need a hand with anything do get in touch. I’m happy to take a look at what you’re currently doing, share my experience to help you build something new, or come in and share some of my knowledge and skills with you and your team. You can get in touch with me here and find out who else I’ve helped recently here

You can find the next dates for the Vital Facebook Skills workshops I run with Dan Slee here – I cover what you need to know about Facebook Ads plus we give you the low down on the algorithm, creating great content, engaging in Groups, the purpose of Pages, and knowing when to engage. 

Original source – Sarah Lay

When we experience certain kinds of hardship in life, it’s natural to turn to our councils for help. This is particularly true in the world of social care. Unfortunately, people often end up in a web of phone calls and assessments, unclear about the support options available. This can also create extra, unnecessary demand on already strained council services.

We’ve written before about complexity in adult social care and how providing the right content is key. With Buckinghamshire County Council, we’ve been working to untangle the different kinds of support on offer to adults in need and developed a new tool to help residents find support.

“Find support near you”

Residents are surrounded by community and voluntary organisations that are ready and willing to help, but it can be hard to find them. Councils often provide directories, or lists of available services to residents, for example when families of young people with special educational needs require information on the “local offer”, or when helping adults find activities and support in their local area. These directories include internal council-provided services, but the bulk are often provided by the voluntary and community sector: charities, support groups, youth centres and so on.

Despite being vital in connecting people to support and reducing demand on council services keeping accurate lists of information about local services is hard. Services change frequently, which means they’re often incomplete or out of date. It’s not unusual to see teams facing this challenge with very old technology, that’s not fit for the 21st-century.

We’ve built a tool with Buckinghamshire County Council that aims to simplify this search for services and help keep the information up to date.

(The ‘find support near you’ tool)

Using this new tool, residents can:

  • answer simple questions about their needs
  • specify a location where they’re interested in looking

The tool will then provide options for support groups, activities and organisations active in their local area that are filterable by venue accessibility, age group and more. Each service is actionable, with a website or contact details so users can go directly to the source if they only need a particular kind of support.

When doing user research, we found that many people research these services on behalf of someone they care for. With this in mind, we added the ability to save services to view again later or send them to a friend via SMS or email. Users can also submit feedback to amend service details or suggest entirely new ones, to help us improve data completeness.

(Prototyping and usability testing for the Find support near me tool)

Thinking in the open

With Buckinghamshire, we’ve started reimagining how these directories could work, starting with a fresh open data foundation. Applying open data principles here means the data is stored independently from the front-ends that use it. Meaning that in the future, we can drive other user experiences from the same data set, without needing to duplicate work.

A centrally maintained dataset, connecting to user-facing services with open APIs.
(What directories of services could look like)

Once we’re happy with the breadth and depth of data, the API can also be opened up to third parties, inviting app developers to use the data and build more, creative solutions. This is similar to what Transport for London does with its data that led to innovations like Citymapper.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the same logic that underlies GOV.UK Registers: durable, maintained open datasets that can be repurposed to solve many user-facing problems.

This tool is really just a small demonstration of what could be possible. The real power of this approach comes not from what this single tool can do, but from the possibilities inherent in liberating data from a single tool and making it open for all.

Please visit the new tool and tell us what you think.


Helping citizens find support was originally published in FutureGov on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Original source – FutureGov

Shortlist LIVE pic black and white.png

The wait is over – the UnAwards19 shortlist has been published

by Darren Caveney

It’s not an exaggeration to say that it’s been a massive task for the UnAwards judges this year.

342 entries is a pretty astonishing return.

Huge thanks for the time and effort which all entrants took this year.

If you have made it onto the shortlist you should be really proud, it’s a major achievement.

And if you didn’t make it onto the shortlist you’ll of course be sad. We’ve all been there. But that should not detract from you being proud of your work.

Many on the shortlist this year tried but didn’t make it in 2018. So please don’t give up – try again next year.

You can view the full UnAwards19 shortlist HERE.

BEING AT THE BIG DAY…

Each year the publication of the shortlist sparks a run on the remaining tickets.

I am going to limit ticket sales to two per organisation so that I can get as many shortlisted people to the big day as possible.

Ticket availability is limited and is first come, first served.

You can buy up to two tickets HERE.

SAYING THANKS

Finally a big, big thank you to the team of external judges – all 20 of them:

Dave Worsell, Matt Johnson, Ross Wigham, Phil Morcom, Carolyne Mitchell, David Grindley, Ian Curwen, Fran Collingham, Stuart Banbery, Rachael Richardson-Bullock, Matt Nicholls, Victoria Ford, John-Paul Danon, Phil Jewitt, Holly Bremner, Harriet Small, Madeline O’Phelan, Andy Carter and Ben Capper.

It’s been a huge amount of work for you all and I thank you so much for your time and efforts. I owe you all a beer.

I look forward to seeing many of you on 6 December.

Darren Caveney is organiser of the UnAwards, creator of comms2point0 and owner of creative communicators ltd

 

Original source – comms2point0 free online resource for creative comms people – comms2point0