The Argentina's Ministerio de Desarrollo Social (Ministry of Social Development) contacted Giro54 to enable anyone to have access to information on social plans from mobile devices.
We immediately saw what this could mean: a chance to help people without computers get the aid they needed, in real time, from their homes.
Just like when Juana Paso had her fourth child, a baby daughter named Estela, she could barely leave home to do her errands, much less take the two-hour trip to Formosa city to get her social benefits.
More than 18 million people — one out of two Argentines — receive social plans in Argentina, but those are also the people least likely to own a computer. Their only internet access is through a smartphone. In some communities people even share one phone among several families. The phone, in these cases, is not just a personal item, but a shared community resource.
The Ministerio de Desarrollo Social controls 6% of the Argentine GDP, and is responsible for 13 social plans that reach out to all corners of Argentina. The complexity of the networks and the diversity of plans was tremendous.
At the time we entered the project, the Ministerio also wanted to change the “tone” of the website so, instead of simply “government talk,” the website would be an instrument to improve the lives of people, making communication more human and approachable to people who have received only a few years of schooling at most.
One of the main problems for the Ministerio was that the people who were supposed to benefit from the site, were also the ones who were the most discouraged to use it, mostly because the site did not adapt well to mobile devices. So, instead of going online, these people resorted to calling the 0-800 number which could only attend a few dozens persons per day. It was a terrible bottleneck.
The Ministry had launched a new website about a year earlier, but that version only supported desktop and laptop computers. We analyzed data logs and found that visits from mobile devices were growing at a rate ten times faster than for traditional computers. However, the abandonment rate for these visitors was 30% higher than for those using desktops and laptops.
It was important not to throw all that work away, so we came up with an approach to keep and expand the existing Content Management System in a way that would allow the site to adapt to mobile devices, not only the high-power, high-resolution tablets and smartphones but also the simpler and economic feature phones that were common among the plan’s beneficiaries.
Between 2013 and 2014 we set about designing and building a responsive website that, with a device detection on the server, made all the information adaptable to a wide range of mobile devices.
We worked hand-in-hand with the Communication Team at Ministerio to use words that would resonate with people and empower them to find what they were looking for more easily. We placed standard and prominent links for “How do I access this plan?” and “Where is the closest office?” that could be found at a glance.
The navigation also had to change, so we designed a mobile-friendly easy to spot structure that allowed people to reach program specific information in just a couple of clicks and simplified the structure of the sections.
While implementing the new website, we guided and trained the IT team on how to integrate mobile detection in the existing content management system.
And we passed along the know-how, so they could make improvements to the site on their own in the future.
When the project was finished, all the applications were integrated to the existing content management system, which helped working class Argentines like Juana access all their social benefits information and plans from their phones.
For us, this was a way to prove that technology can help all strata of people, and especially those who benefit from it the most. Giro54 created a way for a lot more people to live a lot better.
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