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Sport England on working to keep the nation moving ‘#StayInWorkOut’

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Cyber-Duck look back on the redesign process of Sports England's website and reflect that it was great timing.

If you’re like me, your exercise routine in March 2020 may have included running in your favourite park, taking the kids swimming and going to the gym.

Now we’re much more limited. A daily walk or run from home, Joe Wicks with the kids every morning and YouTube yoga when we need to relax.

But it’s never been more important to keep ourselves as healthy as we can, both to get through this crisis and to ensure that we’re doing our bit to support the NHS.

Sport England plays a crucial role in helping the nation stay fit. They’ve been focusing on helping to keep us active while we’re all at home, and supporting the sport and physical activity sector at a difficult time. It’s been a privilege to work with them at such a critical time and I’m really proud of the work we’ve done together.

What is Sport England?

Sport England is a public body that invests up to £300 million of National Lottery and government money each year to help people get active and play sport. A lot of its work is specifically focused on helping people who do no, or very little, physical activity.

What is the ‘#StayInWorkOut‘ campaign?

The ‘#StayInWorkOut‘ campaign aims to get people across England moving and to keep them active throughout the current crisis.

It has four key elements:

Get active at home

Curated fun workouts that cater to everyone, from families to older people. You can do a Disney dance-along, strength and conditioning with Anna Martin Fitness, Pilates with Rachel Lawrence or Cosmic Kids Yoga. There’s also advice for pregnant women and guidance on mindfulness and meditation.

There’s a new virtual activity finder too. It gives you a personalised timetable of activities based on your needs, interests or ability. We worked with the OpenActive data API on this – they’ve also pivoted to virtual and online activities.

Get active outdoors

It provides advice on outdoor exercise that follows government guidelines on social distancing and safe activities. It also points people towards programs such as Couch to 5k and Active 10, which help people build and maintain longer-term fitness.

The facts

The finder displays clear, concise information about the benefits of exercise, current government advice, health and hygiene tips, plus advice if you’re self-isolating, feeling sick or recovering from sickness.

Join the movement

Sport England’s communications always underline that exercise can and should be fun. At a time when many of us can’t be with the people we love, Sport England is encouraging us to share how we’re managing to ‘#StayInWorkOut‘ with our friends and family on social media.

How was Sport England able to adapt their support and advice so quickly?

With everyone spending far more time at home, Sport England has been focusing on helping people do try the types of indoor, family-focused and solo activities people could still do. And it’s had to do that at speed.

Fortunately, the organisation had recently come through a user-centred website redesign process in collaboration with Cyber-Duck. So when the coronavirus crisis hit, the team already had a very clear idea of:

  • Their target audiences and demographics
  • Those users’ needs (industry and end-user)

And they had the technical tools and infrastructure to respond swiftly too.

Here’s how we worked with them, before the coronavirus crisis, to get to that stage.

The challenge

An internal Sport England review had raised a challenge. Its main website was trying to be all things to all people. The navigation was not intuitive and the content lacked a clear purpose and hierarchy.

Our objectives were to:

  • Define the content architecture, governance and migration strategies to ensure information is accessible and easy to navigate.
  • Develop an intuitive, user-friendly, secure website CMS comprised of scalable ‘blocks’.

We took a data-driven, user-centred approach to consolidating their portfolio of websites.

User experience strategy

First, we immersed ourselves in the Sport England brand. We listened to representatives from across Sport England. Stakeholder interviews and workshops clarified Sport England’s goals. We explored Sport England’s understanding of their audience; then we challenged and validated this together through user research and analysis.

This revealed a better way to segment Sport England’s wide and diverse audience.

Content strategy

The user research showed clearly that the primary audiences for Sport England split into two groups, B2B and B2C, with different needs.

Sport England’s B2B audience needed a permanent digital platform that gave them information about their audience or helped them apply for funding.

However, when Sport England want to target the general public, the organisation takes a campaign-based approach and creates stand-alone entities such as This Girl Can.

We conducted a content audit to understand what was working and what wasn’t. This clarity meant we could propose an information architecture that would consolidate multiple Sport England websites and reduce technical and content debt.

We clarified and simplified the user journeys, using methods like tree-testing to validate changes. This eradicated content duplication. The Sport England team could then design content that they knew met the needs of their users.

Agile website design and development

Sport England’s project steering group signed off the user stories, content and service design strategy, which ensured all key stakeholders were on board.

Our team applied an agile approach to the design and development of the website. Fortnightly sprint planning and retrospectives helped us iterate swiftly, from low-fidelity sketches to UI designs and prototypes with real content.

We optimised as we built by applying findings from ongoing usability testing at each stage. We worked closely with Sport England throughout and co-located during key sprints.

This collaborative, agile approach was key to the project’s success.

Drupal CMS

We applied our ISO-certified test-driven development methodology to Sport England. This ensured we could deliver a stable, quality, secure website, in a flexible way.

Following a CMS feasibility audit, we recommended Drupal 8 for the website. It’s great for building websites that are complex, content-heavy and need sophisticated content governance.

Applying Drupal’s built-in taxonomies, we structured, designed and developed the content into flexible blocks. Migration was a challenge and involved a lot of manual work. Yet, with Drupal’s block system, the client could lay out new pages easily – even directly inside the content – through an intuitive CMS interface.

Further down the line, elastic search will enable users to discover content quickly. We used S3 by Amazon to store and deliver the images and assets at high speed.

The results

Sport England’s new website has empowered the organisation to respond swiftly and clearly during the current crisis. The team has been able to support the sport and physical activity sector with clear, targeted information to inspire us all to ‘#StayInWorkOut‘.

That agility and speed shows what can be achieved from a partnership between a user-centred, service design agency and a national institution.

It was great to hear Zjan Shirinian, head of editorial at Sport England, say: “Cyber-Duck’s expertise has really shone through – from helping us define our website’s purpose and developing user personas, to finding a way to distill all the content we have into a powerful and user-focused navigation.

“The team has guided and supported us every step of the way, bringing a wealth of knowledge and skill to the table and into every conversation.”

And judging by the exercise bike that’s now in my living room, the #StayInWorkOut campaign is working too – setting it up was a good 20 minutes of weights and cardio!

Danny Bluestone, founder and chief executive officer of Cyber-Duck.

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