This is the second pick for the City of Nedlands in just a few months. The first time we highlighted the consistently brilliant preparation of their consultations and the idea of 'informing projects'. While this project is another example of a great project setup, this time we really like the approach to the overall engagement. Read below what grabbed our attention in particular.
Client: City of Nedlands, Western Australia
Publish Date: 22 August 2016
Topic: The city is upgrading playground equipment in a local playground and is asking the community on feedback on four different proposed designs.
Tools: News Feed, Quick Poll, Q&A, Guestbook
Widgets: Signup Banner, FAQ, Document Library, Life Cycle, Who's Listening
- Quality of project setup: As we have come to expect from the City of Nedlands, this is another high quality project. It ticks a lot of boxes and there are no gaps. What we are looking for are dead links, empty widgets and the like. None of this can be found in this project, which is testament to the attention to detail and the thorough process the city has established to ensure a high quality of all projects.
- Use of Quick Poll: The Quick Poll is rarely the 'hero tool' of consultations, but often used as a secondary tool to capture quick feedback. In this case, the Quick Poll is in the heart of the consultation and allows the participant to get involved quickly and easily.
If you publish a lot of projects, try using all tools at least once. This will give you a better understanding of their function, but also provides a bit of variety to your regular visitors.
- Mix of tools: The project was designed to engage the participant in the decision making, giving them the opportunity to contact the project team and to be kept up to date with the progress. The mix of tools chosen to achieve these goals is ideal. The Quick Poll and Guestbook ask for feedback on the proposed designs, the Q&A tool offers transparency and make the team approachable (see point 5 below) and the News Feed is there to keep the community informed about the progress.
- Key document availability: The project description features images of the four proposed designs and, being in the middle of the screen, this grabs the visitors attention straight away. The document library also features each design as a high quality file download. It's crucial for consultations around draft documents or plans to make sure these documents are actually available, easy to find and the file size allow a quick download.
Having said that, the documents in this case do have a downside. They are in different formats and different sizes. Ideally, all four design proposals should have been made available in the same format (in this case either jpeg or PDF) and in a similar file size. While one can download proposal two in a few seconds, proposal three is more than ten times bigger and hence takes much longer to open.
- Approachable team: Great to the see that the City of Nedlands have gone to length to ensure that the team behind this consultation can be contacted. There is a Q&A tool which allows participants to ask a question and the project officer is introduced via the Who's Listening widget with a friendly image.
For further consideration:
Project title: The project title is rather dry and long. While it perfectly outlines what this project is about, we like to see shorter titles (certainly should fit on one line) that ideally are also framed as a call to action. The tools have been renamed and include calls to action, which makes the lack of a call to action in the title a little bit of a surprise.
- Links to other projects: An opportunity has been missed here to link to other live consultations. In particular since there is at least one other project published with a similar topic ("All abilities play space"). This should not be underestimated. Getting people to your site is half the job done. Once they are there, make sure it is easy for them to move around and find other opportunities to get involved.
OVERALL: We have come to expect excellent consultation from the City of Nedlands. This project was chosen as a staff pick because it involves participants on multiple levels, informs them about the progress of the consultation so far and promotes transparency and personal contact. It is the perfect mix for a consultation about a playground upgrade.
NOTE: The article above is based on a visit to the site on 30 August 2016. Changes made to the project after that date may have altered the appearance of the project.