A site for sore eyes

For the past year, CLBC has been talking to individuals and families to build a new and improved website. The image above is a preview of how the new homepage will look when the site is launched in the coming month.

A year ago, several parents gathered at the head office of the Family Support Institute in New Westminster for an informal focus group. They had agreed to take time out of their hectic schedules to give some feedback to CLBC’s communications team. The topic? CLBC’s website.

“It was so helpful to hear frank, honest feedback,” said Randy Schmidt, CLBC director of communications. “We heard loud and clear that learning about CLBC services can feel overwhelming. We needed to help individuals and families feel welcomed, supported and empowered. The best way to do that was to make it easy to get answers.”

In today’s connected world, visiting a website often marks the beginning of a relationship that people have with an organization. When CLBC consulted with individuals and families for its strategic plan, they said they felt stressed when entering CLBC supports– they were unsure of the process, and anxious about getting the supports they needed. As a result, one goal in CLBC’s strategic plan is to strengthen relationships, and one focus for achieving this goal over the past year has been building a more user-friendly website.

CLBC’s current website, built in 2009, had room to improve and better meet the needs of the people who visit the site. For one thing, the older technology means people cannot read it easily from their mobile devices.

Parents attending the workshop at FSI offices had simple advice: the web site should answer four questions, quickly: 1. Am I eligible? 2. What supports can I get? 3. How do I apply? and 4. Who can I talk to?

Those parents’ four questions, validated through more interviews and surveys, became the framework for CLBC’s new website, which will be launched in the upcoming month.

Listening to our audience

To help develop the content of the upgraded website, CLBC looked at its current site to understand what was working well, what wasn’t and what was missing. We spoke to many people to understand how the site could better meet the needs of individuals and families. This process included interviews and focus groups with individuals and families, sessions with CLBC’s Editorial Board, as well as an online survey with Community Council members across the province and members of the Vancouver Parents Transition Group. CLBC staff also provided feedback on how the site could better help them support individuals and families.

“I think it’s a vital part of the process to talk to family members like me, and to get our perspective. We’re the people who are going to visit the website to look for information when our sons and daughters are leaving high school and we need to learn more about CLBC,” says Yuko McCulloch, whose son Charlie is supported by CLBC, and who is also a coordinator of the Vancouver Parents Transition Group. “Content is important, and also the way you navigate the site and find information. Making eligibility information easy to find, for example, helps families know right away if they are eligible before they spend time reading through the rest of the site.”

Individual, family and staff input led to key recommendations as the project moved into the design phase. In addition to simpler navigation, these recommendations included clearly explaining CLBC processes and providing content that is welcoming and supportive.

As the new design and updated content of the site were developed during this past winter, individuals and families continued to play a key role. They helped finalize the navigation structure through a card sorting exercise to prioritize key content, they tested the initial wireframe designs and most recently completed user testing of the development site.

“It was an engaging way to collect people’s feedback,” says Yuko, who was involved throughout the process, from early consultations to final user testing. “Once I had the test site in front of me, and I was going through it, it felt like a natural progression. Using the top headings to search for relevant information is very user-friendly. The site really helps people understand what CLBC does and how it works with people.”

New features to meet your needs

When the upgraded CLBC website site launches in the coming weeks, we look forward to sharing a number of key improvements with you. These include:

Simplified navigation: The top-level navigation menu of the site is built around three key questions individuals and families often ask: “Who does CLBC support”; “What support is available?” and “How do I get support?”

Improved information:More user-friendly, clear information has been created to better explain eligibility, the welcome and planning process, and the way to request services. The new web site has pages to introduce visitors to CLBC facilitators, and describe CLBC assessment tools and how funding decisions are made.

Easy-to-access contact information: One key question people often ask CLBC is, “Who can I talk to?” CLBC’s toll free number and public email account appear right on the upgraded homepage and a new map feature helps you find your nearest CLBC office using just your postal code or community name.

Enhanced accessibility: The new CLBC website aims to meet industry accessibility standards under the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. On every page of the website, accessibility buttons appear to right-hand side, allowing you to increase text size, print the page or listen to the page content using a tool called ReadSpeaker. Every top level page also includes a plain language “What this pages says” summary.

Mobile friendly: More than 30 percent of visits to CLBC’s current website happen on mobile devices. The upgraded site is built using responsive design and will adjust automatically based on the size of your screen to be easily readable from a tablet or mobile phone

News and Stories: An upgraded News and Stories page lets you read stories and learn tips from other individuals and families in  B.C. who are accessing CLBC supports and connecting with their communities.

Keep your eyes on www.communitylivingbc.ca later this month when the new CLBC website will go live.

“I am grateful to all the individuals, family members and staff who shaped this new website,” said Randy. “A lot of people care about providing strong support, and we have sought to honour their input. We hope the new website makes it a little easier to find the information people need.”

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