Forums changes - updates thread!
Really excited to reach out today with an update about your forums. To cut to the chase, we’re undertaking significant work to upgrade and re-design the platform to be a space that better supports you and your needs.
I’m aware there have been some announcements like this in the past, which haven’t resulted in the change you were hoping for, and we appreciate that can be very disappointing.
However, while there is always the chance that things don’t work out as planned, this time around we are confident that we’ll be able to deliver significant improvements to your online experience. This has us really excited here at Beyond Blue and we’re so happy to start sharing with you more about what we’re working on, how we’re working on it, and when you’ll be seeing changes.
What we’re working on
Simply put, we’re setting up a brand-new technology platform to power these forums. We’re working with a great technology partner, who specialise in forums, to deliver a more modern experience with improved features (many of which you have been asking for for a long long time).
In setting up this new technology, we have a lot of work to do to make it align to your needs, to make it a safe space and to make it really valuable to you. But at the end of this process, we hope to launch with a fresh, modern website which looks and feels like a warm, supportive space, and which allows you to really get the most out of your interactions here.
To say we’re excited about this, truly is an under-statement 🙂
How we’re working on it
We know we cannot do this without your input and feedback. Beyond getting deeply acquainted with the existing feedback you’ve provided in these forums, we’ve also set up a ‘community group’ with seven of your peers to support this project. At the moment, we’re meeting weekly to talk through a range of questions, workshop out ideas and ensure we’re really representing community need with the work we’re doing.
From this point on, we’ll be using this space in the forums to provide updates on the work that’s in play, to get your feedback and comments and really bring you along this journey.
While we know we won’t get everything right the first time with this work, we know that involving you along the way, will help create a much better outcome in the end.
Please look forward to seeing more posts (hoping to update you all weekly) in this space!
When you can expect changes
At this point, we’re hoping to deliver the new platform in 2022 and are working hard to reach that goal. We’ll of course be updating you along the way if that changes.
Although there will be new things to learn and explore, we’re confident that the platform will provide much improved functionality and really improve your experience overall.
Interacting with this thread
We would love to hear your thoughts, feedback and questions! While we can’t respond super quickly to all questions, the aim is to send answers to any questions we’ve received weekly on Fridays - so be sure to check back in then
Next week, we’ll share some early updates on some of the new features that are coming with this platform and start talking about what we’re currently working on.
Thank you so so much for your support and we’re so happy to be finally making improvements to this space for you.
Looking forward to the changes, and all the best to implementing it!
To answer Amberlite's question, there is the "Young people" section that's for people ages between 12-25 to post about any questions they have regarding life and well being. I'm not sure about internet etiquette for adult/child. I try to answer with as much understanding, and not dismiss any questions/concerns they have, regardless of the simplicity/innocence of the question. It's like, "How would you answer if it was your child speaking to you?". Hopefully that helps.
I would guess that you’re not alone in not realising there are children as young as 12 years old participating on the forum.
I didn’t realise it for awhile also. Once I did, I started to think more about how I worded my responses when talking to someone who seemed young because it’s impossible to know the age of who you are talking to.
I talk to children and young people here like I would to my own children. I do my best to provide responsible support with care and kindness.
I like your suggestion about a tool to help guide adults in talking to kids and young people about mental health. Content really needs to be age appropriate to mitigate the risks of forum participation for children and teens.
Kind thoughts to you
I hope you've all had a good week. With so much of Australia in lock-down at the moment we know this is a really tough time for a lot of people.
Writing today to provide another update on how our forums upgrade project is going. But before that, I'm taking a moment to write back to some of the questions that have come through 🙂
Sleepy21 - you asked about unsubscribing to threads. Yes, you will be able to both subscribe and un-subscribe to threads. You can also subscribe / unsubscribe to entire boards - though I suspect doing this for threads is more useful?
We're still in the throws of working out just how to manage this on the platform.
I'm at risk of getting a bit complex here, but there is a 'my threads' type feature on the new platform, which does act a little different to the 'subscribed' threads feature. We're working through how to set those up, so that what you're viewing continues to stay relevant, and so that you (hopefully) have more control over what you're seeing.
Summer Rose - thank you so much for the feedback on the design goals. You're spot on about safety and you're right that should be made explicit. We've talked a lot about this internally, and our community advisory group on the project is really passionate about this too, so I'm confident this is being well represented in the process.
Thank you also for the more specific feedback about young forum users, it's great to see conversation around this, and thanks for the feedback about notifications, choice and managing change at individuals' own pace.
Project update coming next!
Update on the project
We've spent the last two weeks working with our designers to develop concepts for the experience and visual design of the platform.
When we talk about 'experience' we're meaning how do various parts of the website link together - how simple is it for you to find your way through the website, how well does it meet your needs.
When talking about visual design - we're looking at the colours, spacing, illustrations and 'feel' of the website.
It's been a really productive and valuable few weeks! We've regularly caught up with the community advisory group to get feedback and 'test' the designs, making multiple updates and changes based on this feedback.
Where we are now, is we have really great design concepts for the new platform that we'll look to build out, as well as many great ideas for future development, that address some of the feedback and comments that the community has made on these forums.
Over the next few months, we'll be looking to implement these designs, and get our community group to start using the platform, testing it, and again providing more feedback.
We're still investigating all the constraints around the technology we have, to understand exactly what we can, and can't do... but when we're feeling a little more confident around exactly what we can and can't build into the platform, we'll aim to share some sneak peeks!
Aside from this, our team has been working hard on some of the more technical aspects of the project - helping the new platform to integrate with our existing systems and websites here at Beyond Blue - complex, but really important work.
An open question
Interested in your feedback on the following: if you were talking to someone and said:
"Check out the anxiety ______ on the beyond blue forums"...
.... what would you call that "______".
Do you call it a board? A topic? a forum?
We're interested in this so that the language we use on the platform makes sense to the people using it!
Thanks and talk again soon
BB Project Team
Even saying 'Check out' suggests leaving before one even arrives!
Perhaps more interpersonal terminology could include:
'Chat room on Anxiety'
'Conversations about Anxiety'
'Feeling Anxious, join us here for awhile'
'Talk with us about Anxiety'