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Homeless Link

Homeless Link is the national membership charity for organisations working directly with people who become homeless in England. They represent homelessness organisations among local, regional and national government. As the national collaborative hub for information and debate on homelessness, Homeless Link seeks to improve services for homeless people and to advocate policy change. Through this work, they aim to end homelessness.

The Challenge

Homeless Link had previously worked with a large global digital agency but had had very mixed results with both the quality of the work and relationship. They needed to find and work with someone they could trust.

Initially we were brought on board by Homeless Link to help redevelop their existing Drupal website. There were three primary aims:

  1. Bring it in line with their brand and make it beautiful

  2. Make it fully responsive for mobile users

  3. Make it as easy for the general public, Homeless Link staff and relevant stakeholders to use

On brand, responsive and designed for users

Following a careful rethink of Homeless Link's brand identity comprehensive brand guidelines were produced.

We developed a fully responsive design in keeping with these updated brand guidelines, extending them to cover digital (incorporating accessibility and usability issues, relevant to screen layouts and design).

We also tackled the worst of the backend site build - reworking the most important and regularly used editor tasks so as to make them easier and more understandable.  

Homeless Link website viewed on laptop

You guys have been brilliant

Martin Reed, Editor & Web Manager Homeless Link
Homeless Link mobile screens
  • Year 1 total traffic increase
  • Year 1 increase to mobile traffic

Having onboarded, stabilised and upgraded the Homeless Link website, we then began to improve specific site features including some of Homeless Link's business critical services - including the Homeless England directory.

The Homeless England Directory

This online directory of services across England for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, is the only national source of information on homelessness support. It covers more than 2,000 services, detailing the range of support services available: from accommodation and day centres to local authority housing options and homeless health services.

The directory averages over 65,000 pages views a month and is a critical tool across the sector. It is used extensively by housing and homelessness professionals to help signpost their clients to the most appropriate services that can help in their area as well as by individuals who are homeless or threatened with homelessness themselves.

Tincan's expertise and understanding were invaluable when we were redeveloping our Homeless England directory. From UX design through to technical development, their team quickly grasped an understanding of what we were looking for.

Gareth Thomas, Information manager

We ran a UX (user experience) workshop, which covered user surveys and wireframing exercises. These focused on the most common user tasks and journeys. The findings from these resulted in rebuilding the Directory functionality from the ground up and running agile user testing exercises.

This work also improved internal workflow, making it easier for staff to add to content and lowered their external costs and reliance. 

Screenshot of the Homeless Link Directory

Tincan listened, asked questions, made appropriate suggestions, and produced a much improved user experience that has had great positive feedback from our users.

Gareth Thomas, Information manager

StreetLink

We have also worked with Homeless Link on their innovative StreetLink project. Via their telephone or online, anyone can act when they see someone sleeping rough. Submitting this report is the first step someone can take to ensure rough sleepers are connected to the local services and support available to them. 

In 2016 we extended the service to cover Wales. This extension into Wales included app development, general debugging and some level of refactoring of the underlying platform.

  • Increased usage 2016 vs 2014
  • More referrals Jan > Apr than the whole of 2014

As coverage, awareness and unfortunately homelessness have increased, so too have the number of reports and referrals: in 2014 there were 11k+ referrals, 2015 saw 15k+ referrals and 2016 saw 32k+ referrals - a 102% increase over 2015 and a 191% increase over 2014. For the first four months of 2017 (Jan > Apr) there were more referrals than for the whole of 2014.

In 2017, with the platform migrated to SalesForce, we developed a new user centred design to improve both the usability of the service (for both the website and the mobile app) and to help improve the quality of submitted reports.

 

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