ALISS Beta Blogger — our learning journey

Douglas Maxwell, ALISS Programme Manager

We’ve come a long way.

On 6th January this year we launched our beta website, which allowed us to test our new technical approaches in a way that didn’t affect our main website. To be honest we’ve had some pretty big challenges to deal with over the months, look out for our next blog which will explain more from a technical point of view.

One of the biggest challenges we had was the way our information was structured. We were always balancing the work a person needed to do to add a resource with the quality and relevance of the search result. After lots of testing and learning we have settled on an information structure that gives us the best chance to get the best and most relevant search results. It links an organisation to a service and then to a place and is called a schema (this link will take you away from this website).

As well as the technology, testing and learning we have been working hard to focus on our teams’ strengths and where we can really make the biggest impact first. That’s why, starting from today, we’re adding resources to ALISS, working from area by area and category by category in a phased approach. We’re planning to have coverage of the organisations and services who help people with money advice, housing and homelessness, mental health and food in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area by mid-October. Now we will never be able to commit to 100% organisation or service coverage in an area but we’re confident that by this new approach we will scale in a more methodical and systematic way.

Since January we’ve also carried out a range of smaller projects, looking at our audience/s, their needs and how we can help them. So from today:

The ALISS vision is we believe that the people of Scotland living with long term conditions, disabled people and unpaid carers should be able to access the information they need to help them live well.

And our mission, i.e. our shorter terms goal, is we help people living in communities with the highest levels of social and health inequalities find and share information to help them live well.

We’re also taking a phased approach in how we ensure physical coverage in ALISS, and to be clear, we will never be able to commit to 100% organisation or service coverage in an area but by going from area to area we will work in a more methodical and systematic way. If you listen to Masters of Scale (this link will take you away from this website) with Reid Hoffman (what you don’t?), then you’ll know that to build a sustainable and person-centred service you need to grow in a phased way with your audience at your heart. This is what we’re doing.

Our roadmap to delivery

We’ve defined our vision and are working to our mission, this means we are working within very clear boundaries. At this stage we are only focusing on the organisations and services that deal explicitly with the categories below:

· Money advice

· Housing and homelessness

· Mental health

· Food

These categories will grow over time and we’ll let you know through release notes when that happens.

We are planning to have coverage of organisations and services who help people, with these categories, in North and South Lanarkshire, Ayrshire & Arran and Grampian regions by end of December.

I’ve kept the best news till last. We’ll be switching off our old website on the 31st January 2018. On this day the beta website will become our only website and while it would be great to have some sort of button to press or ribbon to cut, we will still be learning, testing and developing through an agile methodology. So we’ll leave the celebrations for a little while.

We’ve got loads of other exciting things on the go and I’m really excited to showcase our work in developing an ALISS Community of Practice, with more information coming soon! If you want to hear more or have any comments of suggestions from our work we’d love to hear from you.

Oh, and one last thing! We need you to help us learn, go over to https://beta.aliss.org/ and search for services in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area. We’ll learn loads from all your searching and usage.

Thanks

Douglas Maxwell

ALISS Programme Manager

ALISS is an information service which aims to make health and wellbeing support and activities easier to find. www.aliss.org