Photo by Jonny Gios / Unsplash

How a County Voluntary Council (CVC) used digital tools to communicate more effectively with its member organisations while keeping a human touch.

David from GAVO had support from Newid's Service Design Training to improve how they write and design engaging online content for community groups on funding and governance.

We were able to help with this and go one step further so that GAVO could reduce the time spent writing emails.

User Research

David conducted user research to write the best content for community groups. User research is a process used to help identify the needs of the people who access your service. At its most basic level, it is asking people questions, so you better understand what you need to do to be beneficial for them. The focus is on learning, building empathy and understanding before coming up with solutions. It's really important to keep solutions out of it at this stage; avoid asking what people want and instead find out what they need.

The type of questions that helped with David's user research were:

  • Who are the community groups?
  • What information do the groups need?
  • How did groups find information that was useful to them?
  • What did they think about the existing social media, web and newsletter content?
ūüí° TOP TIP: Avoid asking direct questions about what people want.

‚ĚĆ How do you want to receive information on governance for your community group? (bad example)

‚úÖ When you need information on governance for your community group, where do you go? What do you do? (good example)

With the research information, David began creating content based on the specific needs of the groups he identified. He then tested the information with groups and got their feedback to help improve it further. This started to improve communication with the groups.

David said:

One thing that came from the Newid Service Design training is that it made me explore using a newsletter and a blog in a way that considers what the users of the service may need and what would make my life easier.

During the training course, it became apparent to David that GAVO workers also needed support. Community Development Officers at GAVO worked primarily through email and dealt with a large volume of enquiries. They often had to answer the same questions but adjust for slightly different contexts. Previous attempts at creating shared knowledge sources had failed as using another tool was often more time-consuming than simply writing the response in an email. This volume of work made it difficult for them to try new ways of working.

We talked with David about which tools he already used, as we thought it would be easier to use an existing tool differently than convince people to use something else.

David told us that he used Grammarly - a spell-checking and grammar tool that works within your browser. This was good news to us as Grammarly has a brilliant but often overlooked function called Snippets. This function allows you to write template text that you can insert into the body of an email without changing tabs in your browser. This meant that GAVO staff could press a key on their keyboard and choose from various standardised responses. Crucially the staff could personalise and adjust the messages, so they kept the human touch.  

There is also an alternative tool to Grammarly called textexpander which carries out the same function as Snippets.

David is currently implementing the changes in GAVO and getting feedback to aid future development.

He said about his time on the course:

I loved the Service Design training. It gave me a chance to explore new ideas while considering what the users of the service may need and what would make my life easier.

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