British Cycling

Strategic Planning For Ambitious Membership Growth

British Cycling is one of the most successful sports governing bodies in Great Britain, with over 125,000 members. Over the last 3 years, Reading Room has had the pleasure of working alongside the British Cycling team to power the sport forward through digital.

British Cycling came to us for strategic advice on how to best organise and consolidate its expanding digital platform. The aim was to rapidly engage more members in organised rides, from fans and riders to cycling enthusiasts and professionals. With a mission to deliver international sporting success, and grow and effectively govern cyclesport as both a competitive and recreational sport, British Cycling measures its achievements in both membership numbers, and the number of non-members they can inspire and support to cycle regularly.

THE CHALLENGE

British Cycling wanted a clear, competitive and community-driven approach that would set its site apart from other cycling platforms and social sites.

To create a more effective social community, British Cycling needed the tools to engage members as people, rather than just users.At the heart of the community, Ride leaders needed to be empowered.

British Cycling experienced some immediate challenges with their existing platform, which encompassed a number of different technologies managed by various suppliers; the platform was both complex to manage and costly. Working closely with the British Cycling team, Reading Room helped to define the future vision for the high-priority ‘Let’s Ride’ platform. We also developed a 3-year roadmap to support British Cycling in attaining an efficient, secure, cost-effective and easy-to-manage platform, that has all the necessary features to engage its users. Our final challenge was to track all user engagement with the site and all other social interactions that was a direct result of user interaction within the ‘Let’s Ride’ social community.

THE SOLUTION

Our approach was to create a clear digital roadmap to visualise the future of British Cycling, with a focus on maximsing trackable online engagement.

We quickly onboarded British Cycling’s social ‘Lets Ride’ website, which was most critical to member engagement and also reaching the end of its existing support agreement. This meant we could complete user experience optimisation within a short space of time, and undertake the maintenance of the existing site in parallel with commencing the re-build project.

To understand new site requirements, we ran a comprehensive user and stakeholder research piece across a key audience group of members that participated in large-scale organised rides across the UK. Through this, we gained essential insights of user needs, previously unknown user experience gaps, and pain points that need to be addressed.

Equipped with our findings, we created the first iteration of the new website in Open Source technology that is API-based with custom CMS on the Laravel framework, leading the way for all future development practices in the new platform.

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We balanced internal stakeholder needs with the commercial objectives of growing user engagement.

We also focused on the short-term internal stakeholder requirements around the maintenance of the ‘Let’s Ride’ site. This allowed the current website and social community to continue evolving and growing, serviced by the British Cycling team, whilst we researched, created and built a brand-new ‘Let’s Ride’ community social platform in parallel.

Our new website fosters a more effective social community. We have introduced a comments system online, community groups through which users can organize group rides, and the ability for direct mail between users. To make members people, we ensured that users have easily-accessible profiles, and now include participant photos to show exactly who is booked on each ride. 

Ride leaders and Breeze champions, who guide thousands of cyclists along amazing routes across the country, can now administrate all their rides on the main website rather than having to use a separate system. We have built in functionality that provides visibility of participants both before and after rides, and facilitates direct communication with all riders.

We are delighted to give Ride leaders a better platform to boost their individual engagement: they can now build their own profiles and add qualifications to demonstrate their experience. In terms of safety, Ride leaders can now do their job better. Once a risk assessment has been performed on a route, the new site enables them to share any necessary details with relevant participants with ease.

THE OUTCOMES

Over 456,000 people participated in a ride organised by British Cycling in 2017, which is a record-high for the governing body, and a massive 62% increase on the previous year.