Reaching those most in need: Adobe maps user experience

A Civic Bridge case study from the Spring 2021 cohort.

City Partner: Department of Children, Youth, and their Families
Pro Bono Partner: Adobe

The Department of Children, Youth, and their Families (DCYF) regularly awards grant funding to numerous programs and services aimed at supporting the families and youth of San Francisco, especially those most in need. However, connecting these community members with the available programs and services is an ever-present challenge. This challenge is magnified by disparate services and the lack of a solid feedback loop for engagement.

A Civic Bridge project with Adobe assessed the digital maturity of DCYF and identified gaps in the Department’s communication efforts. The Adobe team also mapped online and mobile communication strategies and built a framework to better collect feedback from community members. 

The challenge

How do you know what you don’t know? With over 100 million dollars in grant funding, DCYF regularly grappled with a variety of engagement metrics to know if families knew about services — and whether they were utilizing them.

DCYF knew they were reaching hundreds of families with email newsletters, Facebook and Twitter posts, and through their website. However, typical metrics like clickthrough rates for email newsletters or website page data did not reveal the deeper insights that DCYF needed to improve their communication efforts. DCYF needed new ways to understand their youth and families community in order to reach those most in need.  

With that in mind, DCYF teamed up with Adobe to evaluate the Department’s digital user experience and explore new ways to capture data and feedback from San Franciscans. 

The process

Adobe initially interviewed DCYF analysts, communication managers, and outreach coordinators to gauge the digital maturity of their existing communication efforts, and compared this with private industry standards.

After this fact-finding, Adobe created a framework for evaluating the readiness of a communication platform or strategy based on consultation with private industry partners, and iterated on new ways to reach community members, stay in touch, and link them with relevant services or programs.

Discover Phase | Gauging DCYF’s digital maturity

  • The volunteer consultants from Adobe worked with DCYF to evaluate the digital maturity of their communication channels, such as email, website, and social media. While it was on-par or above average in most cases, they highlighted:
    • DCYF’s databases and data management strategies were not optimally integrated or consolidated to personalize messaging

Define Phase | Optimizing available resources

  • The digital maturity survey identified that DCYF’s digital communication efforts were already sophisticated, but there was an opportunity to change its strategy for better cross-platform integration and user experience personalization by harmonizing currently separate communication channels
  • By consolidating contact data, DCYF could hone in on specific audience segments and effectively personalize their messaging to clarify engagement feedback loops

Design Phase | Community needs assessment toward engaging communities for the future

  • Adobe mapped community member experiences across DCYF’s communication channels to highlight opportunities for improvement
  • Adobe emphasized constant communication with digital events, follow-up emails, online surveys, and more personalized messaging
  • Adobe also evaluated several email messaging platforms, including ntropy — which DCYF was already using — to find the best solution for consolidating contact data and highlighting user feedback

Deliver Phase | Personalizing user experiences, reaching community members

  • Adobe delivered a digital maturity framework for evaluating the effectiveness of digital platforms in terms like: personalized content, consistency of experience across channels, content right-sized to message or channel, and more!
  • The team provided next steps for better integrating data between databases and communication strategies or platforms in the future
  • Adobe also provided guidelines for deploying new campaigns or expanding DCYF communication capabilities effectively 

Prepare to Launch | Communicating change

  • Adobe presented their findings and suggestions to the larger DCYF staff to help them better reach children and youth
  • Adobe led a walkthrough of the new ntropy framework to DCYF staff so they understood how to effectively use the new templates

DCYF was pleased with the findings and framework for evaluating their digital platform and communication strategies. Critically, opening these channels and maintaining a healthy feedback loop ensures that the services being delivered or the community based organizations being funded are actively engaging with the community’s most pressing needs.

The impact

With a new ntropy framework to better capture their community’s needs and feedback, DCYF will expand and evolve their communication efforts. The digital maturity survey, in addition to surfacing gaps in the Department’s digital strategy and engagement, will also track DCYF’s progress year over year as they work to implement Adobe’s recommendations. Whenever in-person events and gatherings return, these new tools bolster DCYF’s digital engagement, ensuring community needs continue to be met while meetings stay online.

Last updated May 19, 2022