Improving the experience of joining UNISON online: day one of our design sprint

Eight UNISON staff. From four regions and four departments. Together in one room, for five days. With one challenge: deciding what a future experience for joining UNISON online should look like.

Day one focused on a review of how online joining works at the moment for UNISON members and what kind of vision and goals we might set for a new online join experience.

Objectives and goals

We started the day with a discussion on what our objectives and goals might be for a new online experience. This included:

  • Very specific desires like better integration of the form with support on how to complete it (things like our new live chat service, for example) or a form that is more flexible and can be optimised over time.
  • Some broader, stretching aims like “not losing a single member as a result of joining problems”, creating “the best experience of joining a union in the world” and an “enjoyable experience [for members] that suprises and delights”.

When considering goals it is also sensible to consider what might stand in the way of reaching them. What questions do we need to ask ourselves as we are working through things to avoid failure. The list was long but some key ones were “how can we keep all stakeholders involved and supportive” and “how can we keep things simple”?

Review of the current join online experience

Last week every person participating in the design sprint spoke to at least one recently joined member about their experience joining UNISON online. We also asked them what were their reasons for joining UNISON. A report back of the interviews helped set us up to think in detail about the current joining experience.

We reviewed and mapped the current join UNISON process and received reports on which parts of the current form cause most people to ‘abandon’ the form and why this might be.

  • Just under half (46%) of people who click “I’m ready to apply now” don’t actually make it through the form. This figure might sound high but high drop-outs on forms are relatively common. Also around a quarter of those who abandon actually come back and make it through to being members.
  • Of those who don’t make it through, just under a quarter (24%) abandon on the first page (which asks their personal details) and 28% abandon on the last page (which asks their brank details).
  • On the first page, the captcha field was the source for the vast majority (84%) of abandonments – this is the question that proves a potential member is not a robot, but the way it works does tend to confuse lots of people at present.
  • On the fourth page, the salary input caused 57% of abandonments.

Through this review we identified questions to ask of four groups who came to present to us late in the afternoon:

  • Assistant General Secretary Liz Snape and Director of Communications Lucie Hyndley, who talked through their vision of what a join experience should be like. They highlighted the importance of looking at the experience of other organisations and how they make people feel valued, informed and supported throughout the join process. We also discussed future changes in how we ask people to join political funds and the impact that might have on the design of the join experience.
  • The Head of Membership Operations and a team member who has worked on processing the submitted current forms. They talked through the practical issues we have with data that is submitted by members, in particular things like incorrect or incomplete employer data.
  • A team member from UNISON Direct, our contact centre who outlined the help that members request using our online chat or on the phone in completing the form. They highlighted particular problem parts of the form – reinforcing the data we’d seen before. They also highlighted the kinds of support questions and information that people who complete the form often need – for example questions around whether and when UNISON can help new members who have a pre-existing issue at their workplace.
  • The team who run UNISON’s recruitment advertising campaign who talked through some of the ways in which potential members might arrive on the online form based on advertising, the kinds of messages they will have seen, and the issues they’ve encountered in tracking why and how people join UNISON through to how long they stay in UNISON.
What next? Priority areas to work through in the week ahead.

The first day left us all with a tonne of post-it notes, each entitled ‘How Might We’? For example, we came up with some along the following lines:

  • How might we… help people give employer and workplace information that is accurate with minimum effort and thought?
  • How might we… make it easier for members to give their salary details if they don’t know their gross income per year?
  • How might we… present messages that persuade people to join when they start, help them while they’re completing the form or offer them things to do now when they’ve finished in a more effective way?

What is the Join UNISON design sprint?

We’re working with an external agency, The Shop, on a ‘design sprint’ to review, design and build an early prototype of a new online form for joining UNISON.

For this sprint we’ve brought together staff from the North West, East Midlands, Greater London and a few HQ departments to spend the week in a room together, working through as many of the issues and concerns around the online joining process as it stands and as it could be as is humanly possible.

By Thursday we should have enough to start actually building together – drawing and working with developers – a prototype of a new online form. The prototype we design will help us to produce detailed requirements for a permanent replacement of the current online form.

We’ll make sure we keep you updated here on the blog! If you have any questions or comments do tweet us on @UNISONDigital


2 thoughts on “Improving the experience of joining UNISON online: day one of our design sprint

  1. Nina says:

    I had a difficult experience updating my details. This may be helpful to feedback here. I think, at the time, I asked your Twitter team and you directed me to a helpful colleague in the contact office.

    Can an option be put on to change membership to student? I had to phone head office, cancel my membership and rejoin as a student – only to be told a week later that I needed to be a lowest salaried member. So then I cancelled my new student membership and cancelled my cancellation of my old membership. Maybe this is something that can be signposted better on student memberships?

    Secondly, every time I tried to update job titles (which happens often as a casual worker!) the input box just buffered after I typed in three characters. I’m guessing it was trying to autopredict my job title? It just meant that I couldn’t finishing updating my details.

    These are very minor things, but they are related to online processes so it would be great if they could be considered in future focus groups.

    1. Nick Scott says:

      Hi Nina. I think there is probably also lots of stuff to do around changing your existing membership preferences and details more effectively. Perhaps this could be a useful subject for a future design sprint, I guess – however right now we’re focusing on the new member join process. However the point you make about autopredicting job titles is very interesting – we need to avoid anything that doesn’t work well on slow connections or when the server is busy!

      Hopefully will have more to share soon – perhaps late tomorrow, all being well!

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