The Power of Digital Storytelling – Part 1

Hey, I’m Leigh. I’m a digital designer at Comic Relief and this is my first post for the Comic Relief Tech Blog! I’ve just started working on a new digital storytelling product and thought it might be interesting to blog our journey, through our processes, what’s working, our challenges etc. In this first post I’ll start by giving a little context to the work.

The story so far

Digital storytelling is a technique we have been using to educate people about the issues that Comic Relief supports. Not only to raise awareness about the problems but also talk about where the money goes and celebrate the progress. We have delivered this through films, personal stories, editorial, case studies, photography, infographics, stats, maps, interactive stories and social media takeovers.

Women in tech at Comic Relief

‘A lack of women in technology jobs is not just a problem for women, it’s a problem for the whole sector.’

That’s the conclusion reached by the Tech Partnership and Founders 4 Schools, who recently published research into diversity in the sector. Alarmingly, this research also found that only 17% of technology staff are female. Worse still, fewer than 10% of these women are in leadership positions.

Digital storytelling: The next generation

Kids are my favourite kind of user. I haven’t yet met a user with more honest feedback than a pre-teen. And there’s no shortage of it: they always seem to have a lot to say for themselves!

This year our tech team created Comic Relief’s third version of a digital interactive story for teachers to use in primary school classrooms – and it’s the best one yet (not that I’m a proud Product Manager or anything).

My team are my product: How to develop a high-performing team of product managers (or anyone else)

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In my role as Head of Product at Comic Relief I currently have one overarching goal: to embed Product as a way of working. This is in order for Product to provide value to the organisation and it is underpinned by developing a high-performing team.

Motivating your team – so simple, so powerful, so underestimated

Have you ever experienced a situation where your employer has done a bad job of motivating you? I can think of quite a few situations where an organisation’s attempt has failed, or even had the opposite effect. Despite this, the same motivation practices continue to be used, even though much more powerful solutions are available. Here’s a simple example of one.

Engineering

The Engineering team collectively takes care of the development, maintenance, quality and performance of all of Comic Relief’s end-user facing digital properties. We are comprised of WebOps engineers, FROST & Digital Developers and QAs. We endeavour to use the best open source tools and processes appropriate to the teams and constantly evaluate the strength of our products.

We plan ahead to scale our infrastructure to handle exceptional amounts of load during media events and the Night of TV so that our sites stay up and gather maximum donations. We undertake adequate quality control measures with each piece of completed work and ensure it meets the standards of our users. We work closely with Designers and Product Managers who drive the shape of what we build.

Welcome!

Hello! We’re kickstarting a new blog at Comic Relief to showcase the way we use technology to support the core aims of our organisation. Comic Relief’s vision is of a just world, free from poverty. Our mission is to drive positive change through the power of entertainment. If you want to know more about Comic Relief you can watch this short film.

In its 30 year history Comic Relief has raised over £1 billion and has changed the lives of millions of people around the world. The money we have raised has been used to fund projects that have a lasting positive impact on people facing significant challenges both in the UK and abroad. 

With the changes in user behaviour and the move to less linear and more digital forms of communication we are facing increasing challenges in continuing our good work. Technology is a key enabler for us to prosper in a rapidly changing world.  If we want to continue to be successful we need to embrace new ways of working and thinking.

To achieve this we are trying to move towards a user-centric, product-focused way of working, utilising agile delivery practices to stay nimble and responsive to the changing landscape. Through the power of data and evidence-based decision making, metric-driven product development and a deep understanding of our users and their behaviour we hope to revolutionise the charity fundraising landscape and create digital experiences and products that delight and enthuse the public. Ultimately this will allow us to remain relevant and raise the next £1 billion to help fund the worthy projects we support all around the world. We will do all this while continuing to create award winning work such as our interactive story for schools

We will be sharing our challenges, joy and learnings through this blog, while giving you an idea of what we are working on and how we are approaching it. We aren’t perfect and this will be a long journey, but we value your feedback so please, be free, kind and open! 

Zenon Hannick, Chief Technology Officer