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.
- 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
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.
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