Our last Young Person Steering Group (for now)

Rose Anderson

On 22nd October 2021, we held our last (for now) Young Person Steering Group. It was a chance to show off how far the app had come since its initial prototype, gather thoughts on what we should do next, and thank the young people involved for their contributions.

Feedback on the app

The Steering Group felt the app had come a long way since they’d last seen it! They described it as “clear”, “coherent” and “informative”, and they liked the broad range of things to do already on the app. They also appreciated the elements of personalisation, such as the quiz. From the first Steering Group session to the last, they could see a lot of thought had gone into the app.

Feedback on the process

Young people also told us that they found the process “exciting” and “thoughtful”, although it was “hard sometimes”, and they felt “valued” and “respected” throughout. Their ideas were listened to, and they felt we’d taken into consideration the voices of young people and how to make this app the best.

We wanted to create a safe space for young people to share ideas and critique our work, and they didn’t hold back, which is amazing!

Ideas for the future: Features in the app

The most important feature to add to the app (according to the young people we spoke to) would be the ability to chat to a provider. They felt this was key to understanding the “vibe” of a service and noted that it would also enable them to ask any questions they had about the service. A Direct Messaging feature would allow young people to get in touch by another way if they didn’t want to phone or email someone. By contrast, when we asked the Steering Group if they would like to be able to chat to other young people, they said they saw this ability as less important.

The second most popular feature to incorporate was the ability to book a place at a service. Young people were less keen on having to leave the app via the “Contact Details” links and expected to see everything they needed to sign up in one place. Some young people liked the idea of contributing content and submitting their own events (provided there were safeguards in place to prevent “dodgy” entries appearing on the app).

One young person suggested adding a search bar alongside the filter and quiz, for those who know what they want and just need a bit of help finding it. For example, someone looking for a youth club where they could play football could just type “youth club football” into the search bar. This is particularly interesting considering our own research. We had initially hypothesised that the filter would be best for young people who know what they want, but from our user testing interviews and focus groups, we now know the filter is more often used when young people don’t have anything specific in mind and just want quick results of things to do in their area. So, adding a search bar (and perhaps integrating it with the filter) is something we need to think more about.

Some of the young people’s suggestions were not for new features but for updates to existing features. For example, when we talked about the filter, young people said they wanted to be able to filter by date and time, which would make it easier to schedule their activities and see if they would be able to attend a service. They also thought it would be useful to be able to filter by cost, although this was less of a priority.

Ideas for the future: The look and feel of the app

For most young people, flagging which services were LGBT+ friendly was the most important change they would want to see. One person told us that the Urgent Help button needed to be more “obvious” so that other young people could more easily find it and use it.

Some young people suggested that we add more pictures and videos to the service listings so they could get a better feel for what the service is like and what happens there. The idea of a welcome video at the top of each service listing page was particularly popular—it would make them more likely to want to go to a service, whereas a generic picture wouldn’t have the same effect. Having a person talking on video would potentially be more suitable for people with dyslexia, obviating the need for lots of paragraphs of text. Young people also thought it would be good if we could allow users to personalise the app so that, for example, those with dyslexia can change the colours in whatever way they need to make the text more readable.

We wanted to ask the Steering Group about a suggestion we’d heard from one of our user testers. Their idea was to make the quiz questions more specific and ask different questions depending on previous answers. For example, someone who said they enjoyed volunteering could then see a question asking them what sectors they would want to volunteer in (with categories such as “the environment” or “healthcare” to choose from). When we explained this concept to the Steering Group, they liked the sound of it, as it would personalise the quiz even more. They added that it would be particularly useful to young people worried about mental health if they could specify the condition and what they need, be it information about schizophrenia or access to bereavement counselling.

We’ll be taking all these ideas on board as we consider the future of My Best Life. We haven’t yet decided whether we want to continue developing the app ourselves or pass the torch to another organisation, but the feedback we’ve received will be helpful for whoever takes it on.

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