National Trust

Client
National Trust
Outputs
Strategy, UX & UI Design and development
Platforms
National Trust

Business challenge

The National Trust is the largest conservation charity in Europe. With over 5 million members and places of beauty and significance. The National Trust is dedicated to providing public benefit through conserving special places forever and for everyone.

For our vision for the app to be truly meaningful and coherent, we sought to understand the National Trust’s vision and strategy for the next decade.

In the 10 year ‘Playing our Part’ strategy, the Trust outlined 4 areas of focus for the next decade from 2015 onwards as it seeks to nurse our weary surroundings back to health:

  • Looking after the nation’s special spaces
  • A healthy, more beautiful natural environment
  • Experiences that move, teach and inspire
  • Helping look after the places where people live
National Trust

The app has an important but indirect direct role in contributing towards objectives 1, 2 and 4, it was the third area of focus in particular – “experiences that move, teach and inspire” that really piqued our interest as mobile evangelists. Here was a key area of focus for the National Trust in the next decade that the mobile app could realistically make its own - an area of focus that mobile is perfectly placed to take advantage of but above all, truly excel at.

In 2017, Hi Mum! Said Dad (HMSD) was elected the preferred supplier for mobile apps for the National Trust and initially asked to evolve the National Trust mobile app, working towards wider National Trust goals.

A clear objective

Engage supporters with experiences that move, teach and inspire. And in doing so, help supporters make the most of their membership, and visit a National Trust place at least 2-3 times per year.

Achieving this goal means clearly demonstrate the value of continued membership (support) and ultimately reducing churn.

Solution

To achieve our goals we ran two distinct worksteams for the National Trust

The regular support and maintenance of the NT apps.

Maintaining the platform alongside a shifting technical landscape is essential for ensuring that members and supporters have a great experience in app and keep coming back.

An exceptional experience as standard requires a continual program of improving/enhancing the code base, preempting the latest devices and operating systems to be supported, monitoring general performance and eradicating pesky bugs.

The National Trust apps have been downloaded by millions of users who rely on the app to enhance their membership, thus support must be handled in a structured and robust manner.

In addition to technical maintenance, HMSD monitor user behaviour anonymously to ensure that our areas of focus are driven by insights on what supporters are doing in that app, and therefore represent the most value to app users.

The second workstream was focused on taking the app to the next level.

National Trust App

To determine how the app should be evolved in order to deliver experiences that move, teach and inspire, a comprehensive strategic discovery was completed.

This included closely analysing the audience by looking at usage behaviours in the app, running surveys, collating and cataloguing countless reviews and feedback and conducting interviews with members and visitors across multiple National Trust locations.

With this research in hand, we were able to ascertain what members wanted from the product, where frustrations could be alleviated and how we could translate common behaviours to improvements that would encourage regular app usage and an enhanced experience overall.

Hi Mum! Said Dad and the National Trust then defined a range of features against the insights gathered, that would take the app to the next level. But we know that it isn’t enough to simply dream up a set of new features, particularly for an organisation as large and complex as the Trust. We knew that active stakeholder engagement was an imperative for success, and so Hi Mum! Said Dad and the fine product owners at National Trust facilitated a collaborative end to end process, ensuring that technical and operational feasibility was kept in the frame through a series of working sessions and internal engagement initiatives.

Breezing through, we moved into concept prototyping and concept testing.

In this phase, we brought our proposed features to life via several concept prototypes. The prototypes represented potential routes and features.

Our aim was to determine which features resonated best with users and gauge what impact they’re likely to have on our goals. We then put our thinking to the test with real users. We recruited members from a broad demographic spectrum and ran structured concept testing.

The concept testing surfaced the winning routes and further insight to improve them. The winning routes were then developed into a complete design prototype. This phase is designed to test whether our implementation of the full solution is intuitive for users and ultimately a best in class experience. Running comprehensive user testing and tackling usability flaws prior to build makes for significant savings and assurance that we are onto a winner early on.

The culmination of the process is currently in development and will be launched in the coming months; the rigorous and collaborative process gave us the collective confidence that the new and improved National Trust app will hit the mark.

Results

As one of the UK’s biggest app propositions, the National Trust Days Out App boasts enviable results:

  • Over 2 million downloads across iOS and Android
  • 250,000 active monthly users (and growing)
  • iTunes App of the week in June 2018

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