Some bells and whistles

Throughout the summer, our technical development team have been working hard on the Oxplore site to add new features. These haven’t been released to the main site yet – we’re waiting until our national launch. We have been adding some new Big Questions to the live site over the past two months though – including Can money buy happiness? and Should under 18s be allowed to vote?

The first feature the developers worked on was a reworking of our homepage. In the current site the format was in block panels of 1 question, 6 questions, 1 question, 6 questions etc. Our focus groups showed that young people liked the principle of this design, but they wanted different ways to navigate too. They’ll soon be able to see new, trending or topical questions first as we have a way to pin questions to the top. They’ll also be able to navigate questions through themes (since as we’re nearing 35 questions, it can get a bit overwhelming). You can preview it in the short video below!

Under the hood, we’ve also developed user registration and a whole host of related features including commenting on Big Questions after voting, bookmarking resources you liked for later, controlling your contact and privacy options and navigating the homepage as a logged in user. We also needed to do a little set up for the live stream element of our national launch.

Plus, to allow us to make the Big Questions themselves more dynamic we’ve developed some new resource types like scrolling image galleries, pros and cons lists, and (better) ways to display images in existing resources like articles and lists.

And, finally, we’ve also been addressing bugs with how the site performs on different devices and enhancing the analytics we can gather to help us monitor the effectiveness of the portal.

It has certainly been a packed summer for the developers… It is exciting to see the site growing in this way, and to know that we have been building functionality that has been rated highly by the users we spoke to in our pilot (particularly our May/June pilot which fed into what we prioritised and how they work).

The last development sprint ends tomorrow – on schedule! Phew.

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About Alex Pryce

I manage Communications and Engagement for the digital outreach portal project. I am based in the Widening Access and Participation team at the University of Oxford.

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