Every Labs project has learnt lessons about how to build digital products that help young people. In this article Rob Trounce of Find Get Give shares some of his biggest learnings from the site’s trials and triumphs.
What Is Find Get Give?
Find Get Give helps young people find mental health support in their area. It’s based on a very simple concept:
- Find help
- Get help
- Give feedback
Find Get Give (lets call it FGG) was built by Right Here Brighton & Hove, a partnership of youth and mental health projects funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. Rob managed the FGG project. As someone who comes from a charity background and started off with little experience in startups and digital products Rob’s learnt a lot in the last 14 months.
Here’s the best of Rob’s and Find Get Give’s learning.
Create A Network Of Young People Around Your Product
Several times we came up against a big issue that had us temporarily stumped. Sometimes our core group of young people got stuck or just didn’t have the experience to get an angle on a problem.
We found that having a network of young people that extended beyond formal definitions (e.g. ‘advisory board’) helped generate better ideas, workarounds, and eureka moments.
For example, early on in the project we couldn’t get our heads around part of FGG’s core functionality so we met up with some of our young people in Sheffield for a different perspective. Within 10 minutes the freshness of their approach had helped us overcome the problem.
Create A Network of Advisers Around Your Product
It wasn’t just networks of young people that helped us. John Willshire from the Smithery brought lots of insight and ideas to each moment and raised our awareness of issues we were likely to encounter later on. His advice helped us plan better, avoid many unexpected issues and refine the app in small, well informed increments.
John’s insight was underpinned by the foundational support provided to us by the Lab initiative itself. Our training and get together days helped us understand lean processes and the world of digital startups. This helped us see where we needed to act and think in a different way to how we would delivering real world services. Not every digital project has this backing but it really helped us.
Do Early Marketing
Our early conversations with young people and our networks helped us build a good audience platform who have shared parts of the FGG journey. Not only did they help validate FGG but also helped us gain credibility with two Clinical Commissioning Groups, both of whom went on to contribute extra funding.
Get Developers And Young People Together Regularly
We weren’t able to do this. Instead I acted as the middle man between the two.
Had we been able to it would have:
- Enabled developers to get close up insight into young people’s experiences
- Helped them get a better understanding of our specific user group
- Saved time
- Enabled us to take a more agile approach to FGG’s development.
By not doing it enough we ended up relying on a mix of agile and traditional waterfall techniques whereby I delivered insights to the developers who used them to inform a detailed specification.
Within this approach however we were able to get young people’s feedback on pdf designs and wire frames. This helped us explore FGG’s core functionality and work through some of our problems. It helped us to nail user functionality required by young people.
Remember Your Needs As Product Owners
Our approach meant we didn’t have a digital product to test until February 2014. When we got our hands on it we realised we had failed to give enough consideration to our needs as product owners. As a result adding content and managing the site is not as intuitive as it is to navigate it as a regular user. This affects how long it takes to add new service listings to the site.