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Protecting and conserving the southern Gulf Islands

Website discovery and community engagement

The Islands Trust is a federation of 13 local government bodies, representing approximately 25,000 people in a geographic region encompassing 13 major islands and more than 450 smaller islands between the B.C. mainland and southern Vancouver Island. While each island is culturally and historically unique, the communities share common needs and goals, particularly in regards to environmental issues facing the region. The Islands Trust was established in 1974 to unite these communities and support their goals, including through planning and regulating land use, managing development, supporting education, fostering cooperation with other agencies, and promoting land conservation.

Given that one of the Islands Trust’s strategic priorities, as determined in 2015, is to “[improve] community engagement and participation in Islands Trust work”, the Islands Trust was considering a complete rebuild of its websites (i.e. three, inter-related websites: the Islands Trust (IT), the Islands Trust Conservancy (ITC), and the Map Islands Trust (MapIT)). Each of the three websites is an essential means of community engagement and information, but particular issues were limiting the efficacy of the sites.

Islands Trust hired Be the Change Group to undertake a discovery process of its web presence and its users to determine if a website rebuild was supported and necessary, and, if so, what features would be required to ensure it is redeveloped in a way that works for the community. The resulting discovery process and research plan consisted of various assessment and data collection methods, including a visual and content audit; a Google Analytics review; two community focus groups; 11 key informant interviews with various stakeholders; an online survey of the island communities; and an online survey of Islands Trust staff.

The resulting summary report presented the collective findings of our discovery process, including overarching themes in terms of impressions, uses, challenges, and areas of improvement with regards to the Islands Trust websites and communications. These findings informed our recommendations for a strategic rebuild of the Islands Trust websites as informed by the collective voices of Islands Trust’s many valued stakeholders. The work was presented by our team at an Islands Trust Council meeting, and ultimately informed the decision to go ahead with the website rebuild.

Once this decision was taken, Be the Change Group supported Islands Trust’s search for a vendor. Due to procurement rules for public sector and governmental agencies, we could not bid on the website build. To make sure that recommendations and the new site reflected community engagement findings, our senior strategist assisted the Islands Trust team with the development of a request for proposal (RFP) for the website redesign and development, and the procurement of a qualified vendor. Once proposals were received, our team provided assistance with vendor selection by attending pitches, rating vendors, and helping ask the right questions to find the perfect firm for the website development phase. Our senior strategist and support team continue to provide support to the Islands Trust team and the selected vendor to ensure that recommendations from the discovery phase are reflected in the website redevelopment.

SECTOR

  • Climate change
  • Population health
  • Sustainability

SERVICES

  • Community engagement
  • Research
  • Strategy

Impact

The change

  • After presenting our findings to the Islands Trust Council, the budget to redevelop the Islands Trust websites was approved by council.

 

  • The site is slated to launch for summer 2020

Discovery

Our process

We conducted key informant interviews, an online survey, and focus groups in all areas of the Islands Trust region to produce a comprehensive report on how Islands Trust could improve its websites.

Discovery

Visual and content audit

Our team’s visual audit of three Islands Trust websites, examined visual and brand consistency; usability and user experience, including navigation and responsiveness; information hierarchy; and overall design, including the amount of content pages. The content audit across the Islands Trust websites focused on the cohesiveness, engagement, and clear and consistent messaging of the copy; compliance with the current brand guide (APA style); and clarity, accessibility, style, and engagement with intended audiences.

Discovery

Google Analytics review

Our team conducted a Google Analytics review of the three Islands Trust websites, which included a review of site users, bounce rates, and the technology in use (devices and systems); a review of site content and pages viewed; and a content drill-down (determining which sections of the website are most used).

Discovery

Focus groups

We conducted two focus groups with community members: one on Gabriola Island and one on Salt Spring Island. Questions assessed participants’ knowledge and awareness of the Islands Trust and its services; their impressions of the IT and ITC websites, including how they would describe the sites in one word; how they would rate the sites out of 10; what the sites are used for; what they like and dislike about them; and how the websites could be improved.

Discovery

Key informant interviews

We conducted 11 interviews with stakeholders representing Islands Trust staff, Islands Trust Conservancy staff, Trustees, donors, and land surveyors. The interview guides included questions about informants’ roles; knowledge and awareness of the Trust and its services; their impressions of the websites, including how they would describe the sites in one word; how they would rate the sites out of 10; what the sites are used for; what they like and dislike about them; and how the websites could be improved.

Discovery

Community and staff surveys

To ensure that we capture the input of key stakeholders across all communities representing the Islands Trust, we developed and distributed anonymous and confidential internet-based surveys to community members (550 respondents) and Islands Trust staff (37 respondents). Questions focused on respondents’ impressions of the IT and ITC websites, including how they would describe the sites in one word; how they would rate the sites out of 10; what the sites are used for; what they like and dislike about them; and how the websites could be improved.

Our Solution

Discovery report and website recommendations

Based on the information gathered and analyzed in our discovery via the key informant interviews, focus groups, the community survey and/or the staff survey, our internal visual and content audits, and our Google Analytics review, we presented Islands Trust with a designed 183-page report complete with appendices of survey responses. The report included recommendations for the redevelopment of the Islands Trust websites.

our Solution

Council presentation

Our team presented the report and recommendations at an Islands Trust Council meeting. Following the presentation, a vote was held and the decision to go ahead with the website rebuild was made.

Our solution

Strategy

Due to procurement rules for public sector and governmental agencies, Be the Change Group could not bid on the website build. To ensure that recommendations and the new site reflected community engagement findings, our senior strategist assisted the Islands Trust team with the development of a request for proposal (RFP) for the website redesign and development, and the procurement of a qualified vendor. Once proposals were received, our team provided assistance with vendor selection by attending pitches, rating vendors, and helping ask the right questions to find the perfect firm for the website development phase. Our senior strategist and support team continue to provide support to the Islands Trust team and the selected vendor to ensure that recommendations from the discovery phase are reflected in the website redevelopment.

Be the Change Group provided top-notch service during our website discovery process. Their commitment, passion, attention to detail, and high standards resulted in record-level responses to our survey. Their well-researched, compelling report and Brandy’s dynamic presentation led our previously-reluctant Council to strongly support a budget request for a new website. All this, and the Be the Change staff were fun to work with!

— Clare Frater, Director, Trust Area Services

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