“I really like working in education and knowing that, in some way, I’m benefiting school governors across the country so they spend less time doing mundane admin tasks. That’s a waste of their time .. GovernorHub allows them to focus on the things that really matter.”
Joseff joined the GovernorHub team as a developer four months ago and we didn’t waste any time setting him to work. Jo from GovernorHub caught up with Joseff recently to find out how his first ‘assignment’ went, what he learnt and why he loves working with school governors.
Joseff, your first job has been to update the personal profile page on GovernorHub.
Tell me a bit about that.
Well the personal profile page looked a bit old fashioned and was in an outdated framework. We decided to update it and focus on making the data look presentable and pretty – and, in a change to the original layout, we put the editing forms in the background so you need to click on an edit button to make changes to your details in a new window.
We also decided to remove the list of someone’s groups and boards on the side of the page. That turned out to be a bit more controversial (...more on that shortly).
How much collaboration was there in the design process?
I came up with the initial layout myself. Then Kyle (my boss) talked me through what could be done differently so it better matched the other parts of the website. After that, the plans went out to James, Hannah, Ellie, yourself – most of the team gave some input. We discussed removing the boards at this stage and talked to some customers about it.
How many weeks were you working on it before it went live?
About a month. Not solely working on it, but largely.
What else did we have to do to prepare for it to go live?
We had to create a product tour which guides new users around the page when they see the change for the first time. We also had to update all of our help articles – which I did. Then we set it live and waited for the feedback!
Did anything break?
Yes – this often happens with a new software update. We try really hard to preempt any issues, but inevitably one or two crop up. A few customers who hadn’t added their personal details were then unable to do so, but fortunately that was quite easy to fix.
We also had an issue at our end, with the help desk team not being able to see everything, (this allows them to help with customer queries) – but we also fixed that quite quickly.
It was a lot more complicated making changes to this page than we expected – the ability for a user to restrict their personal details made it more challenging – but we’re happy with the final result and the updated presentation of the page.
What sort of feedback did you receive when it went live?
We did get some feedback from our governor services teams that they weren’t happy with the fact that we removed the list of boards and groups on the side of someone’s profile.
We have a special admin site that we have designed for Governor Services people to access this information and were very surprised to hear that they sometimes do this in a completely different way. On this occasion, we will be bringing this feature back until we can come up with a better solution for these users.
In the long term, our goal is to update the governor services admin site and make it more user-friendly.
Did you find the whole process useful as a way of understanding how GovernorHub customers use the site?
Yes definitely. When I first went about the design, I focused on the page as a way of individual users editing their personal details.
But we soon realised that admins and clerks use this page to copy postal addresses. We had actually made copying a postal address harder in the update, so after some feedback we quickly amended that.
As a developer, what have you learnt?
This was my first feature update and I guess I’ve learnt about the whole cycle from the start to finish and how it all fits together.
I’ve also learnt about the need for speaking to the people that use our website the most and finding out how they use it before making any assumptions – often the two don’t match up.
I didn’t know how to do a lot of the back end development work either, so I’ve learnt a lot about how we communicate with our back end database and about how well our data is structured and regulated there.
Is it a satisfying feeling – you’ve made something that people are using.
Yes it’s been really nice to see how it’s being used by people and hopefully it’s going to improve their experience. Even getting mixed feedback was quite useful as it allowed us to improve the product in ways that people want. The feedback doesn’t just affect this part of the website either – it affects everywhere.
So you’ve been with GovernorHub now for four months – how are you finding it so far? What’s it like working with governors in education?
I’m loving it. I like the way that our team is set up so that we can take ownership of the things we work on and that we can see things through from design, completion and then getting feedback from our customers.
I also really like working in education and knowing that, in some way, I’m benefiting school governors across the country so they spend less time doing mundane admin tasks. That’s a waste of their time .. GovernorHub allows them to focus on the things that really matter.
You’re hoping to become a governor too?
Yes – I recently applied to a school but didn’t get the role. They were looking for someone with construction experience. I’m still looking though, so if there are any schools in Islington or anywhere in London with vacancies, I’d be happy to get involved. I’ve had no luck so far!
Joseff has passed his probation at GovernoHub and we look forward to seeing more of his work in the future. Thanks Joseff!