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Going the extra mile in website design collaboration

Young volunteers call the shots

Web designers are a funny bunch. Give us a complex code to write and we will knock one out no problem. Search engine algorithms? No sweat. Ask us to inspire a room full of young people armed with a flipchart and a marker pen. Well, now you’re asking.

That was the challenge Talent Match Staffordshire set when they contacted us with the idea for a new website. We eagerly accepted. After all, this exciting challenge would take our collaborative approach to a whole new level.

As a brand new project run by a third sector organisation, Talent Match Staffordshire were still in the process of establishing themselves, however they were determined to get across a specific vision for their website. The strange thing was, the vision wasn’t technically theirs.

No, that vision came from a team of young people. You see, Talent Match Staffordshire is a Big Lottery funded project that helps 18-24 year olds who are furthest away from the job market, into work.

When creating the project, Talent Match decided that the best way to know exactly what young people need is to ask them directly. So they set up ‘youth action teams’ made up of volunteers who would, in a way, call the shots, steer the project and interestingly for us… design the website.

It’s not always about technical expertise

We knew immediately that this wasn’t just any project. This will be a true test of our collaborative skills and will prove once and for all, that our service transcends 1.

Our first action was to find out exactly what the young people wanted for the website. So focus groups were arranged made-up of young people who would be the end-users. These young people were volunteers and were not getting paid to come up with good ideas or had a need to impress the boss. That meant two things;

  • If we bored them or confused them with jargon, they wouldn’t be very impressed and;
  • We needed more than just use our expertise in web design. We needed to inspire them and build trust. We needed to use our great people skills to draw out ideas.

Thankfully that is exactly the reason that makes our creative team so successful and why Talent Match selected us in the first place.

With the use of careful questions, simple explanations and encouragement, the focus groups soon became very successful. The young people enjoyed identifying websites that already inspired them, and would happily engage with us during the sessions.

We know what we want, and we want it now

With the young people soon firing ideas at us, we were able to put together a plan of action and requirements for the website design;

This is what the young people said:

  • We want people to know the website was designed by young people
  • We want young people to want to visit it – it should be fun, and interactive
  • We want to be able search for jobs on it
  • We want to know what we are entitled to
  • We want to be able to download things that will help us get a job
  • We want to message our mentors privately through the website

This is what the Talent Match office said:

  • We need a space for employers and partners to engage with us
  • We need it delivered in a tight deadline
  • We need you to stick to the set budget

And what we said;

  • No problem

Getting back to the technical bit

It was crunch time. Our team set to work analysing and devising the best possible approach to meet the brief.

We decided on using an ‘open source’ code to future proof the website. That way we could grow and incorporate new ideas, such as a forum where young people can post questions and receive answers. This also meant that the website would be cost effective and fit in with their budget.

As enthusiasts for modern technology, the young people wanted the site available on smartphones and tablets. So we worked carefully at making sure the design translated well across each of these.

If your customers are happy, we are happy

Soon the website was ready. We continued to work collaboratively with Talent Match staff and the youth action teams to test the website functions and to meet their needs exactly.

We did this by continued communication and making sure one of us was always just a phone call or email away. We also ran robust tests to pick up any anomalies before the official launch date.

The commendation we received from the Project Manager speaks for itself;

“…WE THOUGHT THIS WOULD BE A COMPLICATED PROCESS BUT YOU’VE MADE IT SO EASY FOR US ALL. THANK YOU FOR YOUR FANTASTIC WORK.”

Amanda Newbold, Talent Match Staffordshire 

Solutions that inspire

The interesting thing about this project is that Talent Match didn’t just need people to do website design. They needed people willing to go the extra mile. People who could inspire young volunteers and were happy to try new ideas. People who could deliver an honest, transparent service. People like us.

The service we gave to Talent Match is the same service we extend to all of our customers. So if you think you are just going to get some aloof computer technician at the end of an email address, then think again.

We view all our customers as partners and in the case of Talent Match, we continue to work with them in keeping the website current, in supporting them with their bespoke messaging system and in providing advice as we continue to work together in partnership.

Maybe you have a website idea that needs that extra mile? We are happy to meet your challenges. Visit our web design page or contact us to find a solution that inspires.