What did you need external support for?
We needed support with three things on the Rape Crisis England & Wales website.
- Refresh of the brand
- Redesign of the website
- Rebuild of the website
We were getting loads of website traffic. We had lots of links from people like The Guardian, BBC and Eastenders. But the website wasn't meeting our needs and user needs.
We also needed to upgrade the version of Umbraco which would have meant a full site rebuild anyway, so we decided to revisit which CMS would suit us best too.
We needed something new.
What kind of organisation were you looking for?
I wanted a collaborative relationship, where we could treat each other as partners. I'm not a developer, but I'm technically minded enough to understand our needs. I know I need to respect the partner's expertise but they also need to be able to understand what we do.
I wanted us to be able to get on and have a fun relationship. It makes these projects so much easier, it's a long term relationship. You're not going to build something and get somebody else in 2 months down the line.
On the technical side, we were using Umbraco. It can do lots of things, but it felt too complicated for us. We wanted something a bit fresher and easier to use. So it was a good time to get that sorted. The CMS that we use now is Wagtail.
What was your role in finding an partner?
All of it.
The first stage was making the business case and educating the CEO, making her realise that this wasn't a £5,000 project.
I was collecting analytics data, showing how many more people we could reach by working on our SEO, and using on-site surveys to collect feedback directly from users – showing the team users’ own words was very effective.
After the budget was agreed, I wrote the brief.
I circulated the brief, shortlisted and interviewed partners with the CEO and another colleague.
I managed initial contracting and was the main point of contact for the ongoing relationship.
What did you use Dovetail for?
Basically I was looking for people that could build a website.
The thing that was really helpful was seeing budget range. I know that sounds silly, but it's such a practical thing. It's almost embarrassing talking about budget, only for them (potential partners) to realise you don't have a £100k for a new website.
It’s also reassuring to know that people on Dovetail have experience within the sector.
Dovetail also helped me compile a long-list and then a shortlist.
Why is it important to find a partner that fits?
If you don't, it just doesn't work.
Especially if you might be working with a partner for 2 years or more.
I've been part of enough processes like this throughout my career. It's so nice to finally have lovely developers and joyous problem-solving conversations.
It’s really important to have shared values, speak the same language, have a shared understanding. Otherwise you have to do all that education work before you can even map your user journey correctly.
What are your top 3 tips to people at charities who are looking to bring in a partner?
1. Consider what’s right for you
Really think about what kind of partner is going to be right for your organisation. I really didn't want an agency that was going to deal with me through support tickets. This is something you’ll need to talk about with potential partners. It’s related to ways of working.
2. Culture and relationship
This is as important as technical skills. There's plenty of people that can build your website. But can they do it in a way that really meets your needs? And can we we work together in a way that is engaging, interesting and collaborative?
3. Shared understanding
Ensure your partner has a shared understanding of what your organisation is trying to do. The designers and developers that I've worked with at Hactar really care about the work we do. It means we have a shared passion and drive to make beautiful things that really work.