Building a website with the residents who use it
As you will have hopefully noticed, the Phoenix Community Housing website has recently undergone a bit of a makeover.
How does something like this happen? Who decides how it should look? What should it do?
Web design “standards” dictate a large portion of the fixtures and fittings for any organisation's website. However, we at Phoenix need to provide the relevant content to our core 12,000 residents who make up our target audience, while making sure our customers enjoy their experience across the whole site.
This position affords some opportunities for creativity, both in terms of design and in terms of content.
As far as design is concerned, I'd like to think it's clear to anyone who comes into contact with Phoenix that we have a strong and vibrant identity, on which all of our digital media is based. But in addition, threaded throughout the website you will stumble across photo after photo of residents, staff, community spaces, events, properties, and more! This is a deliberate decision intended to show our visitors that residents and people are at the heart of the Phoenix community.
Feel free to have a browse and see who you can spot.
What makes my role different
In recent years you would have been forgiven for assuming that the web developer role would have little to no contact with the customers who actually use the end product (or with the outside world for that matter). Fortunately for all, this is no longer the norm.
In step the Residents Communications Group (RCG).
Everything I have mentioned above, all the decisions, all the changes. These are ideas that have been proposed, considered, discussed and delivered with the RCG (a group of resident volunteers with a keen interest in how we deliver communications).
At a recent RCG meeting I was asked to come along to present the plans for the Phoenix website update. To talk about what we felt needed changing, updating, moving around and so on. The discussion and feedback was fantastic. The meeting allowed us to have an open and engaging conversation that led to decisions about what the new site should look like, which bits of content were important to the residents, how the content should be structured and so much more!
That ability to go further, to get feedback from users who are invested in the site, and then to be able to deliver what they are asking for. That is what makes creating websites in an environment like this so interesting and effective in my opinion.
If you have any thoughts or suggestions about things you would like to see this website do, or if you like the idea of getting involved in groups at Phoenix like the RCG, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
I hope you enjoy the new-look Phoenix site.