Weeknote w/c 1st March 2021

Rose Anderson

What we did

  • We ran a Steering Group meeting with our charity partners to update them on the progress of the product (the app). We had some interesting discussions together about how we might improve our data and buy-in and where we might go next.
  • We caught up with Lambeth Council, who offered to introduce us to their Young Advisors programme.
  • We had an internal scoping session where we thought about the next steps for the app and how we might work on our business plan.

What we’re thinking about

This past week has been focused on discussions of how we test and scale our app. Our Steering Group had quite a few suggestions for additional features, such as links to the services’ social media pages, not just their websites. They also had ideas for an ‘Invite a Friend’ function for young people to recommend a service to a person they knew, and an ‘Alert Me’ function where we could ask for the young person’s permission to contact them in order to follow up on whether or not they heard back from the services they approached.

From testing the app with young people, we’ve recognised the importance of trust. The points at which young people ducked out were points at which they felt they didn’t trust the information given by the app—perhaps because the quotes from young people were ‘obvious’ PR quotes lifted from the website, or the website itself felt ‘off’. We want to refine our app and make sure we’re not making any mistakes that would make the app look untrustworthy.

In our Steering Group, it was suggested that we could get in touch with schools in Lambeth, who would be able to connect us to young people for usability testing. This could be promising, but we’re also aware that schools are already facing numerous Covid-related difficulties (for example, there is uncertainty over whether all teachers will have been vaccinated by the time all pupils return). So we should perhaps manage our expectations and wait for things to settle down before we engage with them.

An alternative might be Lambeth’s Young Advisors programme, as suggested by Lambeth Council. Young Advisors, aged between 11 and 20, are paid by the Council to do remote youth work, going out to meet other young people where they’re at (often in the so-called ‘hard to reach’ areas) and signposting them to helpful services. When the app is launched in May, there could be scope for us to train the Young Advisors to engage other young people. They could download the app, receive a bit of training in how to use it, demonstrate it to others, and ask what they think of it and whether or not they would download it themselves. It’s definitely an opportunity to keep an eye on.

Challenges

Looking forward to the long-term management and maintenance needs of My Best Life, we’re intending to run an internal session to flesh out our plans for scaling the app. We want to keep people interested in My Best Life so that development can continue and there isn’t a drop-off in engagement or investment. Our aim is to get to a place where we better understand who we want involved in future development. Currently, we’re hoping to eventually secure buy-in from lots of different places, not just one local area.

However, we’re concerned about trying to make the app a nationwide product too early. We could be spreading ourselves too thinly. And the app itself is not yet in a position to be scaled that widely, especially as we’re currently only using static data. For now, we’ll keep things focused on Lambeth, and concentrate on developing the app to make it as good as it can be (such as by enabling charities to input their own data). If we do decide to scale up, it might be to the whole of London, rather than the whole country.

We’re working on setting the parameters for the scale of the product. We need to discuss what ambitions we want to set for the app, and the milestones for how we will get there. Do we want to start small and gradually accumulate the developments, or do we want to seek funding for the full finalised version? Once we have this plan in place, we’ll be in a better place to make decisions about who will take on My Best Life after us. It could be a local authority, or a national charity.

Wins from this week

  • The Steering Group liked our prototype so far—they thought the layout was intuitive
  • We’re moving ahead with plans for a more regular newsletter—coming soon!
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