One big design question for the team right now is: 'Should searches for family hubs and services or groups be separated?'.

We need to know if users see a difference between these, and if they care about it.

For the last few weeks we've focused on a coded prototype (MVP journey 1), in which users can choose, on the homepage, between searching for a family hub and services and groups.

We are building a prototype to test how users find searching for family hubs and services or groups in one results table with filter options. This will be MVP journey 2.

We will test both versions and see which users prefer.

Splitting family hubs, and services and groups

We have redrafted content from Alpha throughout, including the:

  • homepage
  • search pages
  • results pages
  • bad journeys

The main challenge from a content perspective has been how to make the separation of family hubs and services and groups make sense to users.

We've tried to strike a balance. We do not distract users with a policy-driven focus on family hubs, but we give some basic information to distinguish them.

Family hubs offer a ‘welcoming place to go’ and a ‘good place to start’.

Services and groups are what to search for ‘if you’re looking for a specific type of support’.

We hope this will help users pick one search or the other and be able to find the information they need. We will see how this goes in user testing.

The family hub search journey

  1. The user goes to the homepage from a search engine.
  2. They learn about what can be found in family hubs, and see the link to 'start'.
  3. They enter a postcode and select continue.
  4. They find a few local family hubs with contact information.

The services and groups search journey

  1. The user goes to the homepage from a search engine.
  2. They read about local services and groups, and see the link to 'start'.
  3. They read more about what services and groups can offer, and enter a postcode to find the nearest ones.
  4. They select the type of service they need from 6 categories and subcategories.
  5. They view the search results, which they can filter by search radius and age group.
  6. They can contact a service to book an appointment.

Adding caveats

We decided to test how users respond to some caveats on the search pages, under the ‘Enter postcode’ boxes. For example, the caveats on the search page for services and groups:

‘As this service is new, not all local authority services will be listed. If there are no services or groups listed in your area, you will be signposted to your council website. Some services are only available to local residents.’

Drafting the content for listings

We already had an existing user journey focused on infant feeding. We added a second user journey for testing, where the user searches for help with a child’s behaviour and sees a new listings page with services for behaviour support.

The content used for all the directory listings in the prototype so far is sourced from desk research into Salford’s actual family hubs and services wherever possible.

In some cases, we have had to simplify information for our minimum viable product (MVP). For example, where in real life there is only an online contact form or no email address to contact a service, we have made up a dummy email address. Where a service takes place in real life across a complex range of locations, online and offline, at different times and in different ways, we have made up simpler dummy information - as we can only display one address and ‘service’ for each listing at the moment.

Where Salford does not appear to offer something we think users might reasonably expect to find in a search result during testing, we have made up a service based on what another local authority family hub offers - for example, a behaviour support workshop for parents - using dummy contact details.

Other updates

We have:

  • added temporary placeholder categories based on user research and desk research in Alpha
  • added blank postcode and category error messages
  • decided to use the term ‘infant feeding’ not ‘breastfeeding’ - policy use ‘infant feeding’ and it seems more inclusive, but we will see what users say in testing
  • decided not to flag up childcare - which is not part of the family hubs service - for now (it wasn’t a big issue for users in Alpha - we will test without it initially)
  • made the ‘bad journey’ pages more consistent
  • made the search pages more consistent

We will document decisions around terms and words we use in our style guide.