We were asked to develop a national fostering website, alongside 22 individual websites for local authorities across Wales.
Every year, hundreds of new foster families are needed across Wales. In 2021 over 1% of all children under 18 living in Wales were looked after by a foster family. That’s over 7,000 children.
The need for willing foster families has increased by 41% in the last decade and is set to continue to rise.
This is what makes Foster Wales so vitally important. In this first-of-its-kind collaboration, the Welsh Government has invested in helping all 22 local authorities to combine together to form a unified fostering service in Wales.
Enlisting the expertise of the Illustrate Digital team, Foster Wales has launched a number of digital journeys to encourage and enlist foster families in Wales..
Let’s take a look at how we helped to plan and launch this huge project that’s making a big difference to children across Wales.
When all of the local authorities in Wales, empowered by Welsh Gov, set out to launch a national fostering service they were looking for a digital agency that could do more than just design and develop a website. They were seeking an agency with strong experience in user research and stakeholder engagement.
The project at hand was to launch a main national fostering website, alongside 22 individual websites for each local authority across Wales.
Since there were [number] stakeholders identified as needing to be consulted in total across Wales, it was recognised that the needs and desires of each local area may be wide ranging.
In addition, since this was the first project of its kind from a marketing perspective, market research would be important to address the needs of the audience: potential and existing foster families in Wales.
As a business headquartered in Cardiff, Illustrate Digital was identified as the most skilled agency in Wales to help plan and launch Foster Wales’ digital experience.
Before 2021 the fostering network in Wales was made up of individual efforts from each local council with little in the way of shared resources or a strong digital presence. This meant the number of stakeholders – from child services, to marketing, to IT – was quite significant when combining the preferences of all local authorities.
To help make this project a success, communication would be key and it was our responsibility to bring everyone on board. The first step in this process was to understand their needs and desires for the project.
We held virtual interviews with [number] stakeholders over the course of [number] weeks, recording our findings in detail. Presenting back these findings helped decision makers to agree upon the most important aspects of the end-user experience. These decisions were then fed back to the stakeholders to keep them engaged and in tune with the direction of our work.
Now, whilst internal opinions are fantastic, they don’t quite compare to the needs and desires of your audience and end-users. We combined the findings of our stakeholder interviews with our market research to help make the most effective decisions and ensure the most impactful website features and content would be included.
Looping back to our body of internal stakeholders at several stages throughout the project was crucial to avoiding surprises and objections when nearing launch.
When it comes to planning and outlining the user experience of any new website, interactive prototyping is a really useful way to engage as many people in the process as possible.
Prototyping the Foster Wales experience allowed us to consider and test how a user will flow from a local website to the main website and vice versa.
Despite working with several different marketing teams across Wales, the feedback and sign-off for the suite of new Foster Wales websites was straightforward as a result of clear and engaging prototypes.
In any project, prototypes provide us the easiest opportunity to test and make changes before heading into development.
As a team we’re huge advocates of building digital experiences that are accessible by all.
Having already produced a number of websites that align to Welsh Government Accessibility Standards, we were well positioned to design and develop all 22 Foster Wales websites to a high degree of AA compliance.
We placed a particular emphasis on the mobile experience and making sure the journey would be easy to navigate across a wide range of devices.
With the involvement of all local authorities across Wales, this would become the most in-depth external accessibility validation of any website we’d ever built. We’re proud as punch to say we quickly gained the approval of every local authority and also Welsh Government.
One of the main drivers of success on a project like this is finding an agreed focus for both our team and the organisation we’re working with.
It was agreed that our joint focus would be placed on educating potential foster parents, encouraging them to enquire about becoming a foster parent and additionally providing resources for existing foster families behind a private login section.
Foster Children helped each year
We’re not big fans of launching something and leaving an organisation alone to fend for themselves! Websites should be ever-evolving and learn from how tbrjr users interact with them.
Launching the Foster Wales network of websites was only the beginning of our relationship. Our team at Illustrate Digital continues to maintain, develop and improve the experience on offer with Foster Wales.
Together we aim to encourage more and more families to sign-up to look after children in Wales who are in need of long term care and a family to belong to.
We’re incredibly proud of the work we continue to do to make Wales one of the best, most resourceful and strongest nations in the world for ensuring children receive the highest quality of care.