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‘Beta Blogger’ – Reflections on the ALISS beta launch

Written by: Douglas Maxwell, ALISS Programme Manager, the ALLIANCE

Published: 25/04/2017

Douglas reflects on the process which has led up to the launch of the ALISS programme's beta website.

Over the last few weeks we in the ALISS programme have been busy testing areas of our beta website and we want to share our learning and next steps.

Our story begins at the letter A, but don’t worry, I’m not going to use every letter of the alphabet here. You see, we had a problem where we needed to open up and let go. You know the problem, as a team you discuss an issue and while all options are valid, you keep going round and round without ever quite getting there.

Well, we were like that with the question of what solution to use in our “location” feature.  So not to get too technical, we wanted local services such as the “Double H Lunch Club” which operates from a single location in Paisley, to be findable in the same way as the Food Train Renfrewshire service, that delivers across a whole area.

But let’s get back to A, well actually, A and B. We’ve been carrying out A/B testing with a range of people, from professionals and practitioners to citizens and “silver surfers” technology groups.  Some of this involved people coming to the ALLIANCE and some of it was carried out with partners in a couple of different local communities and we really value the support of everyone who got involved.

One of the tests was carried out in Renfrewshire with the support of Renfrewshire Health & Social Care Partnership.  This sort of testing is really valuable as it’s through their local knowledge that we can really test our beta website in a “real-time” environment.  Here’s how it works;

  • We had two different beta websites with one of them called “A” and another called “B”
  • We kept them exactly the same except for changing just one thing and for our test we changed how the location was added
  • We set a range of tasks to the people taking part and recorded their actions
  • We collated all the raw information and used it to help us make a decision
  • I almost feel a drum roll is in order here, but after weeks of external testing, and weighing up all the pros and cons we’ve chosen our “B” website.

This means you can search for great resources that are located in a local community and search for regional and national resources all in the same place.  We’ve learned loads from these A/B tests, especially around co-production and about running tests in the future.  Being open and honest about where you do well and where you need to improve is a key part of any development process.  It’s also the first time we’ve done A/B testing like this, so when we do it again we will:

  • Define a series hypotheses so we can really focus on our test areas
  • Look at software packages to help us automate the testing, collection of data and the interpretation of results
  • Never underestimate the hard work that goes into co-producing ALISS

With every sprint that goes by we get closer to our end goal of having a great website and service that helps people find and share resources that support health and wellbeing.  Our next focus of work is to develop a feature that allows the people who deliver great services to “claim” their information and control it in a way that works for them.  Our agile way of working allows us to be flexible in our working and transparent in our challenges and our approaches in solving them.  Our blogs will keep you updated on the work we are doing and how we’re working hard to help people live well.

To add a resource and help someone live well, visit aliss.org (this link will take you away from our website) and try our new beta website.

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