We needed to make it easier and simpler for users to search for support services. Following user research, we changed the screens users see when they search for services and way users view and filter search results.

Adding a new start page

We realised we needed to have an additional start page (with a green ‘start’ button) at the beginning of the user’s journey. This fitted in well with the fact users were struggling with too much text all on one homepage, and were not reading the caveats below the postcode search button.

Adding a start page meant we could divide the introductory content the user needs at the start of their journey across 2 pages - the start page and the homepage that follows it.

We redrafted the content on the start and home pages to be more general. Family hubs are only mentioned and defined at the end of the start page, with more focus on what sort of services users can get.

This is because user research found some users may find an emphasis on family hubs and how they differ from cross family hub services confusing early in their journey. They only need to know they can find support, and a simple description of what a family hub is, at this point. We felt it would make more sense to distinguish between family hubs and services, and explain more what family hubs are, on the results page.

The new start page

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The start page explains:

  • who the service is for
  • that it's for searching in your local area
  • what kind of help, services and activities users can find

There is a 'start now' button.

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The homepage explains that users can use their postcode to search for services for babies, children, young people, including those with SEND, parents and carers. It gives some caveats that:

  • it's new and some areas may not have listings
  • some services may only be available to local residents

There is a postcode field and a 'Search' button.

Redesigning how users choose categories

We removed the category pages with their radio buttons. Instead, users now enter their postcode and go straight to the results page, where they select categories and sub categories using checkboxes. This way they can choose multiple sub categories if they want.

Up to this point, we have been testing an ‘example’ list of categories with users based on the types of services available to families and children identified through:

  • Department for Education guidance on family hubs
  • user research

The business analysts (BAs) have worked with the service listing data from our local authority partners to help identify a list of categories for our back end that's based on the Annex F service list detailing what local authorities should offer as part of a family hub.

While the back end list will drive data capture to populate the directory service listings in the front end, we need to use this list to support the presentation of service listings.

We've decided to test an initial list of level 1 and level 2 categories in MVP version 4. These are based on the card sorting activity and playback conducted by the user researchers across family experience and information sharing projects.

We'll align the front end categories on 'Find support for your family' and 'Connect families to support' until we identify a need to diversify. We have already identified a number of categories that will need either further descriptions or potentially a new name to help with user understanding. We are not planning to make these changes until we have further data analysis from the BAs on our local authority, data and have the results from the first round of testing.

Iterating the results page listings and filters

We added 'cost' to the listings and filter options at a simple level (for example showing most services as ‘free’ and a few as ‘£2 every session’). With our filters' wording we mirrored the 'Connect' prototype (‘free’ or ‘pay to use’ as the only options). We know displaying costs could be more complex with real data because there may be variation of costs for one service depending on the user’s eligibility or timings. This is something to consider further.

We more clearly defined the age range filters and divided the 12 to 19 age range to narrow it.

Moving descriptions within the search results

User research found that users were not reading the descriptions at the top of the previous prototype about what a family hub is and what a service is. So, for this prototype, we shortened these descriptions and moved them down the page. The family hub description is in the blue box displaying a family hub listing at the top of the page. The explanation about services is below this box, above the service listings.

While we will continue to make iterations to the text on the pages, the design in terms of pages and functions has now been passed to the development team to build.

Example search results

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The search results page has filter options on the left, and search results on the right.

Among the filter options for this example, users can filter by:

  • distance
  • age range
  • category

The search results on the right show the Central Family Hub, Salford. There's information about contacting the hub, opening hours and cost. There's also a short description:

This is your nearest family hub. You can drop in, meet others and find general services and activities in your area.