The Level Crossing Removal Authority recently launched their EngagementHQ site with a bang and, just a couple of weeks into the consultation period, they are on their way to breaking all sorts of EHQ records. The number of visits, engagements and registrations are quite astounding and undoubtedly that is due to the marvellous setup of their projects (and probably the very important topic too!).
The team has published a whole range of projects pages and any of those could have made it as a staff pick. However, we chose the 'Edithvale Road, Edithvale' project because it has the received the highest number of contributions so far.
Client: Level Crossing Removal Authority, Victoria, Australia
Project: Edithvale Road, Edithvale
Publish Date: 06 September 2016
Topic: The Level Crossing Removal Authority is proposing to remove 50 dangerous and congested level crossings to transform the way people live, work and travel across metropolitan Melbourne. EHQ is used to open the conversation and hear the communities' thoughts on the removals.
Tools: Survey, Forum, Q&A, Quick Poll, News Feed
Widgets: Custom (map embed), Video, Key Dates, FAQ, Document Library, Life Cycle, Related Projects
1. Overall quality of site: Any of the seven open consultations could have made it as the staff pick. They all have been created thoroughly and with great attention to detail. It is evident the team has spent lots of time thinking about how to engage and what information to provide to better explain crossing removals in as much detail as possible, while keeping the language and tone simple.
2. Survey design: If you are reading our staff picks regularly, you will have noticed by now we like to emphasize that engagement is much more than just surveys. The team at the Level Crossing Removal Authority have certainly taken this on board and are engaging through a variety of tools. Having said that, the surveys they have published are designed smartly with a lot of best practice.
Introduction: One of the best survey intros we have seen. It gives indication of how long the survey will take to complete and, although by now probably commonly known, it explains that an asterix depicts mandatory questions.
Context: As people are asked to complete the survey, the team gives context and provides key information in the survey description that helps respondents to complete the survey with better understanding of the issue, hence providing more meaningful feedback.
Demographic questions at the end: The survey is split over three pages to break it into multiple parts and make it appear a bit shorter than it is. In addition, the demographic information is collected at the end. Good surveys are designed in such a way that you ask for specific feedback first, people want to get on with it, and then ask for any required demographic information towards the end.
3. Registration requirement: One of the most frequent questions we hear from clients new to EHQ is if registration is a barrier to participation. It is not, and this site is a great case in point. Over 1000 people registered within the first few days. When people want to have their say, the registration will not be a barrier and the benefits for you, the administrator team, will be immense. The team at Level Crossing Removal Authority is now building a solid database of contacts to communicate with when updates about the consultation are available or if more projects are published. This would not be possible if registration was optional.
4. Breadth of information: The amount of information and the very sophisticated widget column are great examples how providing lots of supporting documentation is a great way to educate participants and to give people enough reasons to spend some time on the site and understand the issues. There are three widgets we really like:
Custom widget: The custom widget features an embedded map, which shows what railway crossing is in focus in this project.
Video: If you look at just one piece of information on this site, make sure its the video. The team has produced a range of stunning videos for each project page, featuring members of the team, explaining in plain English what is proposed and why it is important. We are tempted to say these are the best videos ever featured in a EHQ project page.
Lifecycle: As you would imagine, consulting about railway crossings and finally removing the crossings is a big job. The Lifecycle outlines these stages nicely and gives a great overview of what will happen over the next few years before constructions starts. It also outlines what will happen to the feedback that is collected during the consultation.
5. Team involvement: The team has not only enabled the Q&A tool to answer questions directly, but they are actively joining in the discussions in the forum to reply to questions and potentially facilitate the conversations. While this is no doubt a time consuming task, it is fantastic to see and promotes trust and transparency among the community. In addition, the participants will see that their feedback and thoughts matter as the team is at hand to read and respond to comments.
For further consideration:
Document sizes: We have praised the variety of information that is available on the project page above. While the library is extensive, some of the documents are very large, up to 12MB. Other documents are available only in PDF. As we have mentioned before, efforts should be made to make sure that documents are as small as possible and available in PDF where applicable. Some people may not be able to open Word documents.
OVERALL: This is easily one of the best EHQ sites we have ever seen. The amount of positives highlighted above is quite outstanding and with fantastic response rates, it clearly pays dividends. The entire EHQ site is one to bookmark and follow over the next few months and years. An outstanding effort by the Level Crossing Removal Authority team, which we highly commend.
NOTE: The article above is based on a visit to the site on 30 September 2016. Changes made to the project after that date may have altered the appearance of the project.