KRAN (Kent Refugee Action Network)

Tanja talks to us about her user-centred design journey and how she redesigned the KRAN website.

Organisation Profile

What challenge did a human-centred design process help you address?

As a small local charity, quite busy and with a small number of staff, our focus was always on providing direct support to our service users, and without the IT department and marketing team our focus was never on the website. That is how we ended up with a very old, non- user friendly website. First problem was that when people look up for us in the search engines they can’t even find us - search results take them to our Facebook or Twitter or some old blog from KRAN.

Once people found our website, there was a lot of old information, navigation was not too complicated, but you would see some pages duplicated regarding information on it. All of it was not good enough. 

Our office was closed due to the pandemic, and we were open only for appointments. Communication with users was still happening over the phone, social media, etc. but we also realised there is a need to improve our website as another way for users to reach us regarding questions about their housing, education, emotional support, etc.

At the same time refugees and asylum-seekers were getting more and more attention in the media and that also increased interest of the general public for our organization.

'Volunteers, potential employees, donors, funders - they are all potential visitors to our website and I believe the website is the best place to provide them with needed information.' -Tanja

Working on the website is not something that would be part of my job, but with all activities on hold (because of covid-19) I was given a chance to work on something different and learn more about websites. I also decided to take a step into the unknown as I had a big fear of IT and everything technology and digital related.

What were the key steps in the process?

We had three main phases in the process:

1. Discover

At this stage we tried define our users needs and to prioritise the problem to work on. As our service users were used to walk-in into our offices to seek help, we feared once offices are closed they will believe we cannot help them – that is why we need more visible and user-friendly website. They need to be able to find us, reach out and get in touch with the relevant staff member to help them with their needs.

We also looked into what other small charities are doing regarding their services and users especially during the pandemic to get some inspiration. It became clearer than ever that we are in the need of new website.

Between lockdowns we were open at times and we managed to record short videos for unaccompanied minors (new arrivals to the country) in seven different languages to welcome them to the UK and to tell them about services and support KRAN can offer them to improve their life in the UK. That means we already had some new and fresh material for our website which was a nice start. Also, we thought colourful videos with friendly faces in users' languages would be the next best welcome after a face-to-face welcome that they would usually receive in our office.

We also have illustrated asylum guides made with a few other charities and organisations that in a very simple and clear way shows these young people what the asylum process looks like in the UK.

I conducted a small research project with 5 young people (KRAN users) and few staff members about our website. From asking how often they visit our website to what changes they would like to see. 

2. Define

After the small research project I tried to organise research findings and see what the most interesting and useful comments people made were. It was confirmed how hard it is for visitors to find our website. Potential visitors whose first language is not English found the website too wordy and most of them would leave the website without trying too hard to find information they needed. Comments were made about how the website doesn’t keep the attention of the visitor and it is not interesting, nor clear enough or simple to navigate. We are lacking accurate updates on activities, lessons and other services – and it is not very clear how our services are benefiting our young people. 

3. Develop

With all the feedback from our service users, staff members, and partners on this project organised by Refugee Action we decided to create a new website. It all resulted with ideas how we want our new website to be. I shared this ideas with people from the Refugee Action project and also my line manager and CEO.

What were the main learnings from the work?

When I joined this project, I had some expectations of how it might be and lots of fear of teh unknown as I never worked on a project like this. I was not relaxed hearing about Trello, Miro, Slack – all the tools I had never used.

'As soon as we started with the project, Zoom meetings and workshops I realised all this tools are very user friendly and simple to use.' - Tanja

I learned how to use them with confidence and with each coming session I enjoyed this project more and more.

Refugee Action team was amazing and supportive. They would answer any questions participants had on Slack, they offered 121 sessions that I used to get more support. I learned a lot and I got to see this whole process from the new perspective. I decided during the project that I want to be in charge of creating a new website for KRAN and I got support from Refugee Action team and approval from my CEO to do so. We are moving from the WordPress to SquareSpace and I am confident once our new website is launched I will have no issues of maintaining it and making the most out of it so that it can be representation of great job KRAN does.

What did you end up doing or creating?

The final phase of the project was putting ideas together and creating prototypes for what we wanted. I got in touch with one person who has a lot of experience with creating websites for charities and we are now working together on the new KRAN website. We decided to simplify the website, make it less wordy but with all information that our service users need. At the same time there will be space with more details about our services for general public, funders and donors who might be interested in our work but not as service users. 

I am also learning a lot in this process as we are creating written content, working with a photographer on new photos, etc. and once the website Is launched I will be maintaining it.

'I am looking forward to it as it is something I have never done before, but at the same time I have gained so much confidence through this project that I am confident I will do a good job – and if things start going in the wrong direction, I have support available.'-Tanja

Has this work had any impact? If so, what was it?

The idea about our new website was welcomed by the KRAN staff and the whole organisation. Everyone is included in creating content, I asked all staff members a few questions about their role in KRAN and what are the benefits of that service for young people.

Our service users will benefit from this new website as it will be easier to find, it will have videos about KRAN, housing, budgeting, etc. and if they still need our help after checking info on our website we will make is more simple for them to get in touch with specific staff member who can help them.

We are just few weeks away from the launch and we cannot wait to see it in its full light, to track and compare how it works compared to old website etc. At the same time we already have so many ideas about what to add to our website. One of the things we like is the successful stories of young people who got support from KRAN and then managed to reach their dreams or follow their passion in their jobs and careers or personal life. We would like to use our website to help young people in need but also to show different stories from the ones we see in the media about young refugees in the UK.