Plunket is a national not-for-profit organisation well known to New Zealanders as a key service provider to children from birth to five years old. Plunket was founded over 100 years ago and provides a wide range of services. Many services are offered directly to parents and children; home visits by health professionals, a free phone service to answer parenting questions, car babyseat rentals, and fostering community support groups. In addition to direct relationships with parents and their children, Plunket also actively works with government and other institutions around research, policies, marketing campaigns, education, and other initiatives to advance the well-being of young children.
The Plunket website, www.plunket.org.nz was substantially revamped in 2007 and continued to provide a visually appealing and professional looking website, that to a large extent provided a lot of valuable content. Website traffic and use of social media such as Twitter and Facebook has also grown quickly over recent years. Plunket was seeking to build on this, and asked SilverStripe to help their organisation meaningfully improve the effectiveness of their website. Plunket is a forward thinking organisation, and wanted to lead the way with innovations not generally expected with non-profits. This was an interesting concept for the SilverStripe team, as we love innovating - and with Plunket challenging us to ‘show us what you’ve got’, we gratefully accepted.
What we did
Using a human centered design approach to solving the above challenge meant spending time upfront doing research, including talking with parents and finding out how Plunket could help them to better care for their children. Plunket also ran a short survey to gain valuable feedback from their existing users. The Plunket team absorbed our consultants into their daily work life so we could better understand their organisation's history, work culture, needs, and goals.
We suggested addressing the web as a whole in this project; not just the plunket.org.nz website alone. In other words, having talked with parents, we could identify how Facebook and Twitter and other websites factored into the equation. The plunket.org.nz website then became a fundamental part, rather than the entirety, of this project.
From there, we approached the design with solid information as to what the users of the site wanted to see; simple, clean and well signposted essential information. A main issue for users was that although a lot of valuable data was available on the Plunket site, there were many layers of navigation to find what you wanted.
What users can do now
We helped the Plunket team go to where their online community were already discussing Plunket, versus making people go to them solely, and gave them a way to provide advice easily to several forums, which was then presented on their own site. This encouraged the same kind of community care and participation as demonstrated by Plunket Centres and Plunket nurses.
A further bugbear from users was about finding your local Plunket information - on the previous site, there was no way of finding specific services easily. We provided an interactive map for which users could sort quickly to find any or all services in their area. A clever function of this map, is the ‘Closer to you’ function which finds your position via your IP address and then shows you the closest services within 5km of your position.
Another new feature to help with navigation, was introducing a ‘mega-nav’ drop down, so that users can clearly see what is in each subsection without the need to click through.
The incumbent CMS was difficult to manage and did not enable Plunket the flexibility to change quickly with their business needs. The SilverStripe CMS has given Plunket website administrators an easy to use, flexible solution to this issue.
Measures of success
Our goals for this project was to help Plunket:
- Improve quality of life for 0-5 year olds and more effective parents, based on defined measurables
- Increase frequency of contact between parents and Plunket, especially in focus areas (such as Maori and Pacific Islanders, and immigrants.)
- Improve the awareness and perception of Plunket
- Offer an improved web strategy that will serve Plunket to better understand appropriate investments and initiatives on the web.
- Provide easier to find content and a website richer in online services that parents find useful
- Increase participation of Plunket on websites other than plunket.org.nz
SilverStripe believe the result satisfies and exceeds these expectations, and provides a valuable and powerful platform from which Plunket can extend their proposition over the coming years.