Delivering digital change that provided sports coaches with critical resources on mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
About UK Coaching.
UK Coaching is a charitable organisation that champions and supports sports coaches across every discipline and at every level in the UK.
Through collaboration with large sporting bodies, like the English Cricket Board, UK Coaching pools resources to make lasting improvements to sports coaching in the UK - from grassroots through to elite performance. UK Coaching has made a positive impact on society by informing Government policy, as well as supporting and inspiring the dreams of countless people across Britain.
Supporting a membership organisation through digital change.
We've been the digital partner for UK Coaching since 2017, when we were commissioned to redevelop the core web estate. Since then we've continued to help the organisation expand and improve its digital services offering.
In 2019, we identified the need to move the training and services online in order to reach more of their members – the pandemic expedited this.
With the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the UK in 2020 and the nation entering lockdown, UK Coaching was forced to completely halt the training it offered – both face-to-face and at national events.
There was a drastic need to rapidly move these services completely online and to accommodate promotion, sign-up, and purchasing for these sessions. UK Coaching also wanted to be able to provide support for those in economically challenged areas that were disproportionately affected by COVID-19, and to deliver critical information on mental health to those suffering from the many mental and emotional strains of life under lockdown.
Laying the foundation for digital transformation.
The early phases included comprehensive discovery and the use of a range of forums such as user workshops, qualitative interviews, sector-specific research, and a review of technological architecture. Through this, we validated the need for UK Coaching to provide training online.
Thanks to this research, several phases of work had already been completed before the pandemic. Using Kentico CMS, our experts delivered a powerful content editor experience, enabling a contemporary and responsive design.
We implemented numerous technical features to help ensure the onsite experience was smooth for both UK Coaching and users, including:
- Implementation of a Single Sign-On (SSO) mechanism between the main website and the LearnUpon Learning Management System (LMS) where courses are held
- Creation of an API integration with UK Coaching’s workshop system - IRIS
- Adding a booking engine for courses held in the IRIS system.
Continuous improvements to sustain change.
These completed elements provided a strong foundation for the necessary work required to swiftly transition UK Coaching from its traditional business model into a digital-first model.
The next tranche of work would need to make it simpler for users to engage in their core services – so they can find the right information quickly, and easily book training online.
With a host of different training providers delivering different workshops and learn-at-home courses, improving the search functionality on the site was integral to helping users to find results most relevant to their search criteria. This was further supported by the integration of a Recommendation Engine AI
To be able to fulfil UK Coaching’s desire to provide support and services to economically challenged areas, we completed a post-code validation project. This allowed users to enter their post-code when searching for courses to see if they could qualify for free training courses.
Working in concert, these new implementations enabled users to access course information and book their places much more efficiently, enabling a scale of delivery that had been previously impossible, entirely remotely via their digital platform.
The impact of becoming digital-first.
Working closely with the UK Coaching team on a sustainable digital roadmap, underpinned by a user-centric and data-driven approach, allows us to continuously evolve the platform and adapt to user needs. The COVID-19 pandemic was a rigorous test of this approach, one that has ultimately proven to be successful.
By identifying the need for digital services early through the discovery process, we ensured that UK Coaching was not left on the backfoot when the pandemic hit and the country was forced into lockdown.
Transforming the delivery of UK Coaching’s core services has seen the organisation survive an incredibly challenging period, and continue to thrive as a digital-first service provider. Since the pandemic, UK Coaching has seen:
- 4k free enrolments from economically challenged areas to the Mental Health Awareness for Sport & Physical Activity eLearning course.
- 6K enrolments in total to the Mental Health Awareness for Sport & Physical Activity eLearning course – a 3760% increase on pre-pandemic figures.
- 6k enrolments to a new course – Sudden Cardiac Arrest eLearning – a free course teaching people how to respond to sudden heart failure, such as what happened to Danish footballer Christian Eriksen during Euro 2020.
- 5K subscriptions to the UK Coaching Club - a 14% increase from the previous year
- The overall number of sessions of the website has increased by 50% compared to the previous year, totalling 930,000.
- 3K registrations to UK Coaching.org – only a slight decrease from pre-pandemic levels, meaning that the lack of in-person events in the last 12 months have barely affected these numbers.
The delivery of this valuable work in communities across the UK was enabled by the many modules and projects delivered by Reading Room over the course of the past 18 months. We look forward to continuing our partnership with UK Coaching and evolving its digital platform.