As you may have seen, last week we did a call for feedback, asking for your first impressions of the site – what you liked and what you didn’t, and where you thought the service could be improved. After many a phone call and email with Casserole members new and old, we’ve compiled a collection of first impressions to help us move forward with Casserole’s development.
We think it’s really important to get honest feedback from our members, and to be honest with ourselves about what’s gone right, and what’s gone not so right in order to grow Casserole into a great service. With this in mind, we want to be as open as we can about our thinking, admitting our mistakes, and working together with the community to keep the service on the right track.
Now, onto the feedback! We have to thank those of you who took the time to chat to us and tell us your thoughts. Lucky for us, pretty much all of you were on a similar page – we saw a trend in things you liked, as well as a trend in things you found confusing or lacking – which means what works and what needs work at this early stage is pretty clear to us. For this first bit of feedback, we asked people about their first impressions of the site, how they found the sign-up process, what they thought was missing from the site, and what they wanted to get out of Casserole on a whole.
We are chuffed to say that there was an overwhelmingly positive response to the look and feel of the website. People liked the design and how clean and straightforward it is (we have our incredibly talented design/development duo Jase and Ed to thank for that). Given that this was one of our key goals for this Beta site, we’re glad to see people generally think we got it right.
They found the sign-up process easy, and not too tedious – although there was some question about how much and how little information should be required (one argument being that more information helps foster more trust and community, with the other being that asking for too much information can create a barrier for people signing up).
In terms of the functionality of the site, most of the people we spoke to had yet to share a meal, so they commented mainly on more general aspects of the site. For those who aren’t currently in an area with many Casserole members, there was an overwhelming desire to be able to see a big map of all of Casserole’s activities – something visual that shows that even if there is little or no Casserole activity in your area, it is happening elsewhere! The other main comment we received is that while members are prompted to cook a meal on a regular basis, how to order a meal from a neighbour is less prominent, and there is a need for a bit more clarity on how exactly people should use the service.
When it comes to content, this is the area we received the most confusion, and definitely the space we can improve on the most. While our aim with this Beta site was to trim down our message into its simplest form, we seem to have missed out on communicating some of the most important bits of what Casserole is about. We received some initial criticism from a few people who have been along for the Casserole ride from the start – pointing out that the new website had lost sight of our social message and core value of connecting communities, and especially older people, through shared food. The launch of our website does not mean that we’ve pushed our community and social ideals to the wayside – on the contrary, with the new site enabling people to sign up and serve meals themselves, it has freed up more time for us to work more closely with older people and those offline who can benefit most from Casserole. However, our website does not currently reflect that, and it’s absolutely right that we need to make this a much larger, and clearer part of our online message (and we are already working on a new about page that expresses this!).
Another pitfall to the new site is that there is yet to be a space or option for people who want to be involved in more regular, one-to-one relationships between Cook and Diner, rather than offering up meals for anyone and everyone. We designed this Beta site in the hope that it would become a gateway into more regular involvement in the service and in creating a space where communities can come together. In its current form, it is a space for people to “give it a go” on their own terms, and in that sense, we think it’s doing alright. That being said, it has left little room for these more lasting relationships, where uploading dishes to share is an unnecessary task when the meal is already meant for a specific person.
Given this, we are looking to develop a branch of Casserole that will help foster and support these one-to-one relationships in a much more offline and light touch way, which will hopefully let those who wish to take part in Casserole in a more ad hoc way through the site, and those that wish to build individual relationships to use the service in the way that is best for them.