Set up great online consultations the easy way using engage.vic

We really need to get the first step done well and try to understand the stakeholders.

Engage.vic is a purpose-built platform for running consultations. Michael Baranovic, Product Manager of Engage.vic, shares his team’s insights on what makes some consultations more effective than others.

Engage.vic makes it easy for consultation managers and citizens

‘Engage.vic allows citizens to identify what the consultation is all about, who it’s for, why they’re doing it. For the consultation manager it allows them to build a page and manage it in one spot,’ said Michael. ‘In the past (before we had Engage.vic), some used departmental platforms, some had ad hoc websites, which meant they couldn’t see all the activity across government.’

‘They like being able to use Engage.vic’s content management system, as it’s easy to use. The training needs are low. With that ease comes the need for standards around good content, starting with style guides, so we’re looking at adding a user guide for the site. We already provide guidelines and a strategy template for the consultation manager to complete.’

'However, as people see the Engage.vic tool as digital and easily changeable, they just want to jump straight into the software and play around. You don’t want to stifle that, but its important to get the first step done well, try to understand the stakeholders, and draft content with a clear call to action to make sure it’s an effective consultation,’ said Michael.

The Engage.vic strategy template will help clarify your consultation's intent

‘We’ve simplified our mandatory strategy document. It’s detailed, but it really helps people get their thinking down on paper. It definitely improves the quality of your consultation, as you’re not trying to piece together something from multiple sources,’ said Michael.

‘We also notice if the consultation manager has a good comms strategy it makes it helps them deliver on the consultation’s intent. It also helps to keep them on track through each phase. It’s a source of truth to go back to,' Michael said, ‘Getting your page up and running is just the first step, you need to let your participants know your progress, what you heard and how you used their feedback. We're here to make that as easy as possible for consultation managers.’

Publishing your consultation’s results can attract major web traffic

‘Citizens become invested in the results of your consultation. When the Bail Review posted the outcomes of its work, we could see on Google Analytics that a lot of people visited the site that day. The biggest day for traffic on Engage.vic so far.’

Final tip for successful consultation

‘If your consultation affects people directly, they’re more likely to participate. If you make it easy enough and clear enough, you’ll get people to contribute.’ Michael said. ‘But you do need a good a comms strategy. We notice visitation results are higher for those using the well-thought-out consultation strategy template.'Refer to the How-to Guide, How to set up a public consultation for templates and guidance.