Development / Users

Checking and balancing

Every project needs a place to sense check. We’re at the stage with the digital outreach portal that many, many decisions that will shape the portal need to be made swiftly. In the next few weeks we’ll be making further steps forward in our plans for content, branding, visual identity, site design and more. With so much happening at once, we’re lucky to be able to sense check ideas and learn from the potential portal users that make up our consultative group.

As we blogged after our first group, we’ve brought together a group of 14 young people with the help of Into University’s centre in Blackbird Leys in Oxford. As the weeks go on, we remain delighted with our young people’s enthusiasm. They’ve picked up our brief and needs quickly, and they’re certainly informing our decision-making through a combination of debate, voting and individual written feedback.

Last week we asked them to consider the pros and cons of ‘gamification’ of the site. They told us how they like to feel like they’re achieving things and a part of a bigger community, but there were some that were not convinced by some attempts to engage them. They also told us what they liked in terms of ‘look and feel’. It isn’t surprising that ‘digital native’ young people have some very particular thoughts about the style of the digital resources they interact with. They are also helping with the ongoing task of choosing a name for the portal.

This week they worked in smaller groups and were able to interact with wireframes of some concepts. For the first time, I think they were able to see how their ideas have already been listened to, and they were able to see something tangible. They were asked what they liked and didn’t like about each design.

Some of the things that they liked included some of the innovative interface features (more to be revealed soon) and the ability to see what is newest on the site. Interestingly, they preferred scrolling down to scrolling across a carousel. Not only is their feedback detailed and specific, but it is clear that our group take their responsibility seriously. Discussion was considered throughout, and most groups worked without even taking a break between designs!

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Thumbs up for scrolling down.

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