Our first staff pick for 2016 is also Gladstone Regional Council's first project. What a great start! The council wants community input about the reshaping and reimagining of the area's Central Business District and are using EHQ's engagement tools in very innovative ways. This project is well worth a click through and a closer look.
Client: Gladstone Regional Council, Queensland, Australia
Project: Help us jumpstart our city heart
Publish Date: 20 January 2016
Topic: Gladstone Regional Council is asking for community input on the renewal and revamp of Gladstone's CBD. The results of the consultation will help with the development of an Urban Renewal Strategy and Implementation Plan.
Tools: Forum, Brainstormer, Mapper, Q&A
Widgets: Photo Gallery, Document Library, Key Dates, FAQ, Related Projects
The simple introduction: Clear project descriptions are key to a successful engagement campaign. Ideally, an introduction sets up the context of a project, provides background information and guides users towards the engagement tools. In addition, the description should outline the expected outcomes of a project as well as clearly state the consultation close date. Gladstone Regional Council does this right in addition to containing the engagement close date in the Key Dates widget on the right-hand side of the screen instead of in the introduction.
Innovative use of tool I (Discussion Forum): Gladstone Regional Council is our first EngagementHQ client to use the Pinterest photo board in a Forum. The photo board provides great visual imagery and also serves as inspiration for participants to visualise their ideal CBD. This really breaks new ground and we are interested to see how effective it is as we think it is a great idea.
Innovative use of tool II (Brainstormer): Brainstormer is the second engagement tool used in this project and the second tab. Note how the call to action is phrased: "$1000 spaces - what would you do with the money?" We love the clarity and call to action. What a great way to get the participants in the right mindset to start sharing their ideas.
Also, it is great practice to rename the tool tab with a call to action, in this case 'share your idea'. Perfect!
Innovative use of tool III (Practice): Looking at all the engagement tools used in this consultation you will notice there are many comments, ideas and map markers only a few days into the project. Looking closer, you will observe that most of them come from the same set of users, called 'ExpoStall' or similar.
Why is this the case? The engagement team at Gladstone attended a range of community events with tablets in hand to collect ideas and comments (and registrations). These community responses were then entered directly to the site providing a great starting point for conversation and archive of comments collected. This is a fantastic way to combine real-life community engagement with online engagement and a fabulous method to introduce their freshly launched EHQ site to an interested audience.
Documentation: As alluded to in point one above, projects that provide simple background information and clearly set up a consultation context are usually the most effective. This can be achieved through the description, but usually only in conjunction with a well-organised widget space. This project is evidence of this. The Key Dates, Document Library and FAQ widgets on the right are simple to understand, have all the necessary details and the files small enough to download even on limited mobile data plans.
For further consideration:
Too many tools: Gladstone Regional Council has been very innovative in their tools use, however, there may be just one too many in play which could dilute the responses. Whilst the tools choice are good, including a mapping tool and the Q&A tool to increase transparency and build trust between the project team and community, there may not be a large enough audience to generate a wide response rate. Something to consider for future projects.
Faces: We love seeing good imagery and colour on project pages. And this project contains a lot with images in the gallery and description, as well as on the Pinterest boards. The only thing missing is a few human faces! We always recommended including shots of people to give a project a human touch.
OVERALL: Congratulations to Gladstone Regional Council for jumping headfirst into online community engagement! Trying to be innovative is difficult. Being innovative with your first project takes a leap of faith and sets the bar high for future projects. We can't wait to see what's more in store from Gladstone.
NOTE: The article above is based on a visit to the site on 26 January 2016. Changes made to the project after that date may have altered the appearance of the project.