Accelerating the impact
The NHS is one of the most cherished British institutions. The growing demand and strain on resources is however, threatening the overall impact on the service it can offer. Volunteers offer an invaluable resource across varying health and care organisations, lessening the burden on key services, whilst offering much needed relief and support for both staff and patients.
Helpforce partners with health and care organisations across the country to increase volunteering opportunities and help accelerate their growth and impact. By forming an online network of volunteers and leaders, they are able to build frameworks with the ability to measure the impact of volunteering within the NHS and across social care.
When recruiting thousands of volunteers for one of the biggest organisations in the country, you need a robust system to manage it all. We worked with Helpforce to improve the stability and scalability of their core online platform. Looking forward, we helped them with future plans to combine disparate, silo products that would help drive a consistent brand experience and deliver relevant content across the entire Helpforce network.
Understanding the community
Before we started out building a new product, it was important to recognise that we needed to get direct user feedback before we committed too much time to the rebuild. User interviews, prototyping and user testing were a main priority during the early stages of the project. This helped us gain valuable insights into what and how the users will engage with the end product, enabling our team to work in collaboration with users to reach the best result.
User interviews allowed us to understand the challenges users faced, whilst enabling us to make initial design decisions based on these findings moving forward into the focus group.
There were three main goals of the focus group - understand user goals and behaviour, provide additional feedback on current site and conduct usability tests through using prototypes. This allowed us to observe how users interact with the newly designed wireframes, whilst challenging and validating assumptions of features devised from the user interviews.
A wealth of knowledge
The core values of Helpforce needed to be displayed across the site. Using graphical UI elements, we were able to bring each page to live, making sure users knew the care, compassion and impact Helpforce have upon people's lives
Helpforce Connect offers a wealth of knowledge and information from volunteers and leaders across the country. To make this information easily accessible, the site has been split down into activities, forum and resources. This not only enables the data and materials to be found, but also give credit to those hard working users who take the time and effort to share their knowledge.
Building the infrastructure
The current Helpforce products weren’t fit for purpose. The separate instances made serving content to users effectively, extremely difficult. Alongside that, they were fraught with performance and scalability problems. We needed a centralised system that could give Helpforce complete control over their products and scale as quickly as they did.
The platform has been built using Craft CMS. This modern piece of technology offers flexibility and adaptability with the use of selected and custom plugins, whilst future proofing the site to allow for functionality to be added at any given time in the future. Nuxt JS was used to implement server side rendering across the site. This allows Helpforce to gain a site-wide SEO boost, improved user experience and greater opportunities in comparison to traditional SPA.
Setting the tone
Our design approach followed a similar principle. We wanted to combine all these isolated experiences into one seamless product. To Helpforce’s core user base, they didn’t see the products as different – they were all Helpforce. To combine these different features and use cases, we create a consistent user experience with branded components and visual design.
Tying all this together in an organised navigation, users are able to access the Helpforce Connect via the main Helpforce website. By utilising navigation elements, their journey from entering the site to reaching their end goal has become more streamlined.